A reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film, “Pete’s Dragon” is the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon.
Pete (Oakes Fegley) has been discovered after living in the woods for the past six years. The nine year old boy credits his survival to his best friend, Elliot, who everyone treats as imaginary. Pete struggles with adapting to normal life, including school. Worrying over him are Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Grace’s father (Robert Redford).
The original film of Pete’s Dragon debuted in 1977. Elliot was hand-drawn which was the norm during production but made quaint and old-fashioned upon release since Star Wars came out six months before. With an estimated budget of 10 million, it’s made less than 5 million theatrically. However, it’s become a beloved children’s classic so Disney is remaking it with a CGI Elliot.
The new version of Pete’s Dragon looks like a mixture of Pete’s Dragon, The Good Dinosaur and Mama. In the original, Pete was fleeing an abusive foster family in the early 1900s. He spent just a few days by himself before being taken in by Nora, a lighthouse keeper whereas Fegley’s Pete appears to be an older version of Spot from The Good Dinosaur. Why? The first had Pete coping with fish out of water situations because his former family were poor mountain folk, but why make the new fish out of water situations so extreme? Why is he on top of a bus and jumping like Spider-Man? Is it purely to make children like him?
The quick tease of Elliot resembles a dragon more from Game of Thrones than the original Elliot. Will he communicate with his chirps and whistles that begin the Main Street Electrical Parade? Will he have anything resembling that goofy grin? Will there be any music like the Oscar nominated song sung by Nora, “Candle on the Water”? The original was a musical with no less than 12 musical numbers throughout the film.
Pete’s Dragon comes out August 12, 2016.