Synopsis: “Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford), a woodcarver, delights local children with stories of a mysterious dragon that lives deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. His daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) believes these are just tall tales, until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old orphan who says he lives in the woods with a giant, friendly dragon. With help from a young girl named Natalie (Oona Laurence), Grace sets out to investigate if this fantastic claim can be true.”
Review: Old-fashioned and heartfelt, Pete’s Dragon is a one-dimensional adventure that fails to take flight. Updated from the 1977 half-live action, half-animated Disney feature, this remodel is sincere to a fault, feeling narratively antiquated from go. A quiet film, Pete’s Dragon finds objective moments of tragedy and beauty – the loss of one’s parents, the bonds of friendship with a beloved pet – and uses its Disney-backed treasure trove of funding to make everything look like a million bucks but there is little to it that feels inventive or new from a visual or storytelling standpoint. Instead, everything is a degree of black and white with very little nuance or gray area in between. The good guys are good. The bad guys are bad. Until they too are kind of good. The sleight stakes and been-there-done-that feel keeps the appeal limited even if strong performances and visual splendor keeps it largely watchable throughout. In the end, Pete’s Dragon may not be a fire-breathing winner but is nevertheless just about as unoffensive as they come and is sure to be a score for the younger kiddos in the crowd. (C)
Notes to Self: A Director’s Diary (7:31): Director David Lowery‘s muses about the making of the film.
Making Magic (2:12): A brief featurette on how Elliot the Dragon came to life including the VFX work necessary to bring him to the screen and how Oakes Fegley interacted with puppeteers in green suits or a tennis ball on a stick.
“Disappearing” Moments (9:12): A series of deleted and extended scenes.
Welcome to New Zealand (1:56): The cast and crew talk up shooting in one of the world’s most beautiful locations and its untouched qualities. Bryce Dallas Howard talks about the various sporting activities the cast and crew involved themselves in.
Bloopers (1:28): Standard but short blooper reel sees the cast and crew goofing around.
Music Video “Nobody Knows” by The Lumineers (3:12)
Music Video “Something Wild” by Lindsey Stirling Featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (3:45)
Bonus Clip: “Action Sequences”
Verdict: Without a ton of interesting features and by and large a movie that will not inspire repeat watches, Pete’s Dragon isn’t worth the purchase. (Skip)