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'Pete's Dragon' a half-price heart-warmer

Published:Monday | August 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMDamian Levy
Damian Levy's movie ratings.
The dragon and children connect in 'Pete's Dragon'.

Pete's Dragon is a pretty well done family film. It's based on the 1977 original, but seemingly in name only. Yes, there's a boy named Pete and a dragon, but other than that, the narrative is different.

The best remake is one that takes the idea of the original, expanding on it in a meaningful way. Pete's Dragon gets this right. Mostly.

Pete has a ... different upbringing. His home is the forest, in a tree, with a dragon. After Pete gets discovered by his own kind, he's taken in by the closest thing he's ever had to a family. When the town hears of a dragon in the woods, the appropriate uproar follows, and Pete must choose between his love for his dragon and his new family.

Pete's Dragon deals with themes of belonging and fear of the unknown that were present in films like The Iron Giant and even E.T. The fact that the dragon's name is Elliot only furthers the E.T. parallel.




Like those movies, Pete's Dragon will draw forth your tears. You fall in love with Elliot, Pete, and their relationship. As the conflict continues, you can't help but feel the movie yank at your heartstrings.

Whenever Pete and Elliott are on screen, the movie is elevated. Oakes Fegley does an excellent job as a kid who has to deal with intense feelings of loss and fear. Elliot, the dragon, is yet another impressive computer-generated creature that conveys the feeling of the real thing. Without these two important elements, I dare say the film wouldn't work.

The scenes we do get with the rest of the cast are a little flat, with clichÈ dialogue. The performances aren't bad; the scenes just kill the pacing. You get the sense that these scenes exist to merely lunge the plot along.

The cast is decent. It's hard for people like Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford to be bad. More impressive is child actress Oona Laurence as Pete's first human friend.

Pete's Dragon is a movie with clear messages that resonate masterfully. The trouble is, getting to those messages is a bit of a hassle. I wish the characters that displayed them weren't so 'paint by numbers', but I suppose that's necessary for the movie to be so clear.

It's definitely worth seeing, but perhaps only at a discount.

Rating: Half Price