Magical Release Date: August 12, 2016
Flying Time: 1 hour and 42 minutes
Directed By: David Lowery
You don’t survive out in that forest for six years alone.
When Pete was four years old, he was reading a book while traveling along the Pacific Northwest with his parents and tragedy ensued. Alone and scared, Pete blended into the forest with the help of a mythical creature named Elliott who has served as a protector and friend to Pete. Six years later, Forest Ranger Grace Meacham is searching for evidence of a creature described by her father whose tales have become legendary over the years. Instead, she finds a young boy named Pete. When Pete is injured and taken to a local hospital, he and Elliott are separated. Grace’s fiancé, Jack, runs a milling company that is taking down trees near Pete’s and Elliott’s home when his brother, Gavin, discovers Elliott. While Pete is recovering from his injury, he opens up to Jack’s daughter, Natalie, about his concern for Elliott who is now alone. Despite her father’s firm belief in dragons, Grace, Jack, and Natalie struggle to believe Pete’s secret. As the two desperately attempt to reunite, Gavin is on the hunt to make a name for himself.
He says that he wasn’t alone.
Soaring through a lush subtropical forest in New Zealand is quite possibly the most breathtaking product of Weta Digital thus far. Known for their five time Academy Awards for visual effects on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong, and Avatar, the brave genius minds at Weta Digital have created the most adorable version of Elliott that I could ever imagine. Add a sprinkling of Disney magic throughout, and you will find yourself immersed in a high quality family film that is a definitely a ‘re-imagining’ of the classic 1977 film.
As opposed to the 1977 musical Pete’s Dragon, David Lowery and Toby Halbrooks have only borrowed the concept of an orphan whose only friend is a dragon that generally only he can see due to the dragon’s ability to become invisible at will and that someone wants to capture the dragon for their own benefit. In order to modernize the tale, they have dismissed the concepts of adoption slavery/abuse as told in the song ‘Bill of Sale’, the rapping of knuckles by the schoolteacher for lying about a dragon, and the dreadful things that Dr. Terminus wants to do to Elliott in his song ‘Every Little Piece’. Don’t get me wrong, 39 years later, I can still recite every song in that movie due to its relentlessly upbeat and catchy tunes.
Instead, the story explores the bond between a human child and an anthropomorphic magical creature, the concept of family, and the heartbreaking choice to have to choose one over the other. Lowery and Halbrooks perfectly blended the characteristics of a dog from the children’s book that Pete is reading when he became an orphan with the 1977 hand drawn animated Elliott. The visual effects are so stunning that I could see Pete run his fingers though Elliott’s fur and was reminded that the eyes are the windows of the soul in his expertly crafted facial expressions.
If the spectacular visual effects and heartwarming story isn’t enough to make this a box office hit, the superb casting of Robert Redford (The Natural), Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Karl Urban (Star Trek), and the very impressive young Oakes Fegley (Fort Bliss) should help draw in audiences of all ages. The cast and crew’s efforts to bring action, adventure, and a whole bunch of magic to the big screen should not be kept a secret. Some secrets are truly to big to keep and this is one of them. Take a leap of faith and experience the magic of Pete’s Dragon for yourself. ~Movie Buffette & A.S. McLeod
For more information and a down loadable activity pack visit:
Bryce Dallas Howard as Grace Meacham
Oakes Fegley as Pete
Levi Alexander as Young Pete
Oona Laurence as Natalie
Wes Bentley as Jack
Karl Urban as Gavin
Isiah Whitlock Jr as Sheriff Dentler
John Kassir as the voice of Elliott
and Robert Redford as Mr. Meacham