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Pete's Dragon
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63 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

It may not have much in common with the original, but it's a joy of a movie for people of all ages

Author: john schneider from Austin, Texas
10 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Aah, where to begin. I was five years old when the original came out and it was the first ever film I saw on the big screen. For that experience alone I'll treasure the "old" 'Pete's Dragon' forever.

Now to the "new" film. I'm not normally into family movies, but because I hold such a deep love for the original, I just couldn't resist to go to a pre-screening of this remake. If they didn't honor the original, at the very least I could voice my opinion afterwards on the internet. I needn't have worried - although it may come as a shock to some viewers that the film doesn't have much in common with the original at all. But this new 'Pete's Dragon' is about as far away from a cheap cash grab as it could be.

Unlike the original, the new film starts on a somber note (think the beginning of The Jungle Book, Tarzan or Bambi) in that a little boy is orphaned by an accident and left alone in the woods. But just like the best fairy tales, I feel a good story often needs some darker themes: for without those, the joyous moments wouldn't feel as intense and rewarding. And this is very true here, for what follows is a tale of friendship, adventure, magic and wonder like I hadn't seen since those wonderful Spielberg films in the eighties.

The story is sentimental - but never cheesy - and that is one of its greatest strengths: it dares to have a heart but it's not the kind of over-sugary tripe we so often get from big studios. The film's biggest asset, though, is easily Elliot. I had feared (because I had seen a trailer) that Elliot would be a cringe-worthy CGI creature of the worst kind, but the trailers really did the special effects wizards a bad service: the dragon design is perhaps the most beautiful (and I'm not ashamed to say it: cute) I've ever seen.

It blends perfectly with the natural surroundings (gorgeous New Zealand forests) and while this particular dragon has more traits of a playful, over-sized dog than of a dinosaur, it looks so realistic you believe you can touch and feel Elliot's fur (the 3-d works great for this film), and his face is so expressive you forget you're watching a CGI character.

All in all, this really is a film I can whole heartedly recommend to people of all ages, but if you have kids, watch it as soon as possible, you won't regret it. Despite going down a very different route than the original, it's still a throwback to a different era when Disney made the best quality family films (which were so good they are still immensely popular today), utterly devoid of the now so common cynicism, and full of heart, joy and wonder. 9 stars out of 10.

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67 out of 117 people found the following review useful:

Pete's Big Green Dog

Author: svorva from United States
28 August 2016

I worry about taking pot shots at a movie like Pete's Dragon. No one wants a twentysomething's jaded take on a kid's movie. I am aware I am not the target audience. The ticket vendor's surprise at my selection was no surprise to me. What can I say? The other option was an anthropomorphic hot dog. I took the chance because a children's film can be a light fantasy. Disney has taught everyone that "fun for the whole family" is not a death sentence. So when I criticize Pete's Dragon, understand I am not assailing aspects of the genre, e.g. the simplistic plot. That's not the movie's goal nor should it be my point. Pete's Dragon fails because it is utterly devoid of wonder.

True, wonder is a pretty squishy concept. Fortunately for me, my sense of wonder need not go on trial. That's because of my official co-reviewer, the kid who sat immediately next to me in the otherwise empty theater. He looked about the same age as Pete, our protagonist. I regret not asking. Regardless, I understand why this story could be appealing to my new colleague. Pete is tragically separated from his parents, but is rescued by a forest dwelling dragon. Pete names his new friend Elliot and together they spend their days playing in the woods and sleeping in a tree/cave/house. It is an idyllic existence, but it is ruined by the interference of other humans. Pete is threatened by greedy loggers and, the Nazis of family movies, child protective services. However, our hero finds some allies in ranger Grace (Howard) and her storytelling father (Redford). The entire movie scored two responses from my associate. First, a chuckle when Elliot gets a dosing of soot from a chimney. Second, a genuine chortle when an EMT dropped a stretcher. That part was my favorite too. Almost Two hours, two laughs. I refuse to believe this is the best Disney can offer. Admittedly, my second did applaud at the close, but this reaction was not half as enthusiastic as when his dad bought him a Slurpee.

Now hopefully I can take over explain what went wrong. First, the titular dragon. It is a dog. Elliot the big green dog. Elliot chases his tale. Elliot sneezes on people. Elliot is a dog. Whyyyyyyyyyyy? This is one of the most pathetic attempts at satisfying the boundless imaginations of children I have ever seen. Even the flying shots are derivative, all rendered in CG that just screams "I was meant to be seen in 3D." Well I'm cheap. All the other characters were equally tedious. Any idiosyncrasy or characteristic would have been appreciated. You can learn all there is to know about these personalities in 15 seconds. For the remainder of the movie, they will never surprise you, or charm you, or do anything worthy or remembrance. Part of the reason I attended Pete's Dragon was to gather data on the condition of Redford's career. I dread saying this, but this another performance suggesting he is washed up. Then again, in the role, Redford might never have stood a chance. Watching him mug like he was witnessing the second coming because a dragon turned a lighter shade of green was embarrassing. Another sad waste of talent was the cinematographer. The forest itself was the most magnetic character in the film. The natural beauty set a tone, only to be beaten down by the ham-fisted elements. So yes, I guess there was some wonder. Not enough to be redeemable. Pete's Dragon is a soulless morality tale on the importance of the nuclear family. Its grand aspiration was being inoffensive enough so you could bring your children. Disney can do better and we should watch better.

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16 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Kid again

Author: bp96-137-679777 from United States
18 November 2016

Liked this a lot. I was 4 when I first saw Pete's dragon way back in '83 or whatever back in England. I remember how much I loved the idea of Pete's dragon. I watched the original a few years back and realized that it was a fairly average musical with an animated dragon. But still!!!! I remember how great the story or idea of a personal dragon was. The modern spin is very sentimental, but never cheesy. Everything was great; from casting to special effects. I really enjoyed this movie. If you remember the old Pete's dragon from back when you were a skid, you'll love this movie. To be completely honest, there were several tear jerker moments. I guess they really nailed down the aspects of a child becoming suddenly orphaned. They also did a really good job if propelling the story so that it never sat idle. Robert Redford played the integral old timer part, but played it exceptionally well as to be expected. It is also relevant to mention that I typically do not review movies I have just seen immediately after I have seen them. This film made an exception for me.

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44 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

A boring and bland tale

Author: mohanvijay
20 August 2016

I was pretty underwhelmed after watching the movie. Disney needs to rethink what live action movies they are making. The jungle book was renown and popular and almost everyone knew about the same and it was a good retelling of the story nothing spectacular but enjoyable. Pete's dragon at least for me was a film that I had no prior knowledge about and after seeing the film the content of the original story seems to be pretty bland. This is a film purely for kids below 10 years. The dragon is very well animated but the acting by the child actors is average at the best. the "villain" is shoehorned just for the sake of it. The content just was not riveting enough and it is a boring and bland 2 hour movie with some moments which will draw out an emotional response and those are very few and far between. If you have kids go watch it with them they would surely enjoy it. The theater I went had majority of the audience in the 6-10 year group and there were enough giggles and awes to know that they were enjoying the movie. Only recommended for kids.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: Peter Lewys Preston
20 December 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed 'Pete's Dragon' because it made me remember that there is magic if you dare to believe!

To be fair, there were a few things that were not too great (like some of the actors), but for some reason I could see beyond that. Thanks to the beautiful story itself, the magnificent cinematography, the lifelike CGI animation of Elliot (the dragon) and the superb acting of Oakes Fegley as Pete.

David Lowery did a good job directing the movie, and casting Robert Redford as Meacham was a smart choice.

I can only recommend this movie - and not only to families and kids, but to everybody who's open to fairy tales and magic.

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11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Packs some emotional heft

Author: jezfernandez from United Kingdom
14 November 2016

This updated version wasn't quite what I was expecting, though surprisingly good. The dominant theme is friendship and family and they explore this through a rather subtle tension. Pete loves Elliot, but he also needs a family (which he finds in surrogate form through Bryce Dallas-Howard, her fiancé and his young daughter).

The threat feels shoehorned in, as Karl Urban's inexplicably vengeful logger decides to hunt down the dragon and do...well, he hasn't really thought that one through. It's a weak plot device that sells the story a little short, but is ultimately forgivable. I had a sizeable lump in my throat at several points in the film, and I'm not one for sentimentality. Director Lowery handles the emotion well, particularly through an inspired folksy soundtrack.

There are distinct shades of ET here, as a boy comes to terms with the impossibility of a critical friendship. Not a lot really happens in this movie, but what you get is well paced and thoughtful.

Well worth a watch.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable Family Entertainment

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
4 December 2016

The boy Pete is e traveling with his parents, however there is a car accident in a lonely road and only Pete survives. He runs to the forest and is surrounded by a pack of wolves, but a dragon saves him and Pete calls him Elliot. Six years later, Pete (Oakes Fegley) is found by the ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her family and she brings Pete home. He is welcomed by her father Meacham (Robert Redford): her daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence); and her husband Jack (Wes Bentley), but he misses Elliot. Meanwhile the dragon seeks Pete out and Jack's brother Gavin (Karl Urban) sees him. He organizes a posse to capture the dragon while Grace drives Pete, Natalie and Meacham to the place where the boy was found. What will happen to the dragon Elliot?

"Pete's Dragon" is an enjoyable family entertainment, with a lovely story of a boy that recalls "Mowgli" or "Tarzan" that is raised by a dragon. The special effects are top-notch and is impressive to see the interaction of Pete and the dragon. The target audience is children but adults will certainly like this beautiful film. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil: "Meu Amigo, O Dragão" ("My Friend, the Dragon")

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

For a re-imagining, 'Pete's Dragon' impressed much more than expected

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
10 January 2017

The 1977 'Pete's Dragon' was a favourite as a child. As far as by today's standards, while not a great film and not as good through adult eyes (plus there are better live-action Disney films, especially the timeless 'Mary Poppins'), it's still well worth watching.

Despite having some really talented names on board, expectations were both of great interest but feeling dubious. It did have potential to be better than the 1977 film, and still stand very well on its own, or it could have been a lazy and pointless cash-grab. While it is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it proved to be a better film than anticipated.

Not one of the best live-action Disney re-imaginings like 'Cinderella' and 'The Jungle Book' (much better than 'Maleficent' though), but still for a re-imagining 'Pete's Dragon' was a good one. It is let down by the final act, where the darker and more action-packed tone jars with what was happening before in the film and at this point the film starts to feel rushed. The villain just felt very shoehorned in and out of place, for the sake of "needing" an "obligatory" villain for conflict (that to me wasn't necessary), not helped by the hammy performance of Karl Urban that just feels out of kilter with the rest of the cast.

Where 'Pete's Dragon' especially soars is in the very charming and touching friendship chemistry between Pete and Elliot, essentially the heart of the film. Speaking of Elliot, he is a very lovingly crafted creature with not just beautiful details to him but also with a personality that wins one over in how endearing he is.

'Pete's Dragon', apart from some overly grim lighting in places, looks great visually, the splendid scenery being especially good complemented beautifully by cinematography that's atmospheric and picturesque. The music is lovingly whimsical and fits the film well when it could easily have not done.

Scripting serves its purpose well and doesn't hurt the atmosphere or the central friendship at all, weakening only with the villain and when the film gets darker. David Lowery directs very capably and balances the various elements well. Although it won't work, and hasn't worked, for some (with criticisms of it being thin narratively, slow-moving and either too sentimental or cold), for me the story (radically altered with a more sombre tone for example) was immensely charming and appreciated the calmer, straightforward, more gentle and deliberate nature of the story which allowed the friendship to resonate. Never found it mawkish and thought that there was enough emotion without it overshadowing things, though admittedly there is not much that is particularly new.

Urban aside, the acting is good. Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence are very appealing, while Bryce Dallas Howard is luminous and compassionate and, while not being on screen for long, Robert Redford achieves the right balance of the grizzled and the sympathetic. But essentially it is Elliot and the friendship between him and Pete that carry the film, and, as they should, captivate most strongly.

In summary, while with its foibles 'Pete's Dragon' was a much more impressive re-imagining than expected after mixed expectations. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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27 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

I really wanted to like this movie

Author: samyoung-82648
6 September 2016

This movie was a major let down. I really like movies with heart. However, this movie just reeks of bad acting, terrible dialog and weak story telling.

Robert Redford was unbelievably bad. His acting came across as insincere and his dialog was stiff. Dallas Bryce Howard was much better in this movie than Redford. However, the way she engaged the young boy (Pete) was more like a textbook than what I would expect someone to do.

This movie ultimately fails because the acting isn't genuine and the dialog is just plain terrible. It achieves feel good, but, it insults the intelligence of the audience. The Jungle Book was much better dialog. Don't talk down to kids. They are not stupid.

I hope Disney take more risks like this. However, they need to tighten up the dialog and acting a lot.

Ultimately, this movie is more like a C grade TV show. They need less insulting of the audience's intelligence.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Watchable but I expected Better! 4/10

Author: leonblackwood from United Kingdom
8 January 2017

Review: This is another bad live adaptation of a Disney classic! They definitely should have made the dragon speak, like Dragonheart, and I was surprised that Pete was able to fit into normal life so quickly, after living in the wilderness from 5 to 11 years old, with only a dragon as his companion. Anyway, whilst on a day out with his family, Pete (Oakes Fegley) survives a fatal car crash, which kills his parents and leaves him stranded in the wilderness. Out of nowhere, a big Green dragon saves Pete from a pack of wolves, and they instantly become the best of friends. From there, I would have liked to have seen how there friendship developed but the director chose to jump six years into the future, were Pete hears construction workers, chopping down some trees. He is soon gets noticed by Natalie (Oona Laurence) who points him out to her mum, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) and they decide to take him in. Whilst getting used to normal life, construction worker, Gavin (Karl Urban) sights the dragon, and he instantly sees it as his enemy, so he tries to capture the friendly giant, with his fellow workers. Pete, who named the dragon Elliott, misses his close friend very much, and Elliott constantly seeks for him in the night. When he finally finds him, he see's that he has settled with his new family, so he goes back into the wilderness longing for his close friend to find his way back to him. Meanwhile, Gavin is adamant about catching the dragon, so he continues to try and find Elliott, even though he has the ability to disappear. Anyway, Grace decides to take Pete to see his dragon, with her daughter Natalie, and her father, Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford), who tells stories to little children about seeing the dragon when he was in the woods. Meanwhile, Grace's boyfriend Jack (West Bentley), who happens to be Gavin's brother, gets a note from Gavin saying that they are going to the woods to hunt for Elliott, so they all head out to the wilderness with different intentions. After Gavin finally achieves his goal, Pete & Natalie fight to save Elliott, with the help of Mr. Meacham, and Pete soon realises that Elliott can only survive if he sets him free. A weird but magical tale of a sweet relationship between a dragon and a little boy, who lost his whole world at such a young age. Personally, I think this movie was a bit too serious, and with all of the technology that is available nowadays, the dragon didn't look that spectacular. I also wasn't that impressed with the plot, which seemed weak and lacked wit, and I did find the little boy slightly annoying. Anyway, it's worth a watch, because of the touching relationship between Pete & Elliott but it could have been much better. Average!

Round-Up: Although this movie made a profit at the box office, I personally think that people rushed to see it because it was based on the Disney classic, which doesn't mean that it's a great film. All of the actors put in a decent performance but Robert Redford seemed a bit distant throughout the film, which was surprising for such a veteran in the game. Anyway, this movie was written and directed by David Lowery, who also brought you Deadroom in 2005, St. Nick and Ain't Them Bodies Saints. I'm surprised that David was given such a huge project, because he hasn't actually had that much success in the directing chair. That's not to say that he done a bad job with this movie but I really think that it needed an experienced director to bring this magical story to the big screen. Anyway, is a great film to watch on a family day out but I was expecting more of a spectacular visual experience.

Budget: $65million Worldwide Gross: $142million

I recommend this movie to people who are into their adventure/family/fantasy movies, starring Bryce Dallas Hoard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Lawrence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Marcus Henderson and Aaron Jackson. 4/10

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