PETE’S DRAGON – A Review by John Strange

By: John ‘Doc’ Strange
In 1977, Disney premiered a movie about an orphan boy and his magical dragon.  The hybrid live action/animation film had the boy and his friend running from abusive adoptive parents.  The new Disney offering of Pete’s Dragon, screenplay by David Lowery and Toby Halbrooks from a screenplay by Malcolm Marmorstein, updates the story with a modern bent.
The story is set in the Pacific Northwest where an old wood carver, Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford), has delighted local children for years with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides hidden deep in those woods.  No one has ever believed a word he says, not even his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard).  As a Forest Ranger, she thinks she would know if a dragon was roaming the hills near them.
Unbeknownst to the people of the town, a young boy orphaned is orphaned when the car carrying him and his parents is wrecked avoiding a deer that runs across the road in front of them.  Following the wreck, Pete (Oakes Fegley) fills his backpack with what treasures from his life he can find, including his favorite book about Elliot the Puppy.
Six years after the car wreck, Grace and Pete’s paths cross.  This chance meeting in the woods is one of the triggers for the main action of our story.  Grace’s husband, Jack (Wes Bentley), and his brother Gavin (Karl Urban) own the local logging concern.  Their logging operation is getting close to Pete and Elliot’s home.
Jack is the settled one with a wife and child while Gavin is still looking for his purpose.  When Gavin finds himself face to face with Elliot all he can see is dollar signs and fame.  You would think that the man had read or at least seen one of the movies about King Kong. 
The story plays very well with action that both kids and adults can enjoy.  The special effects are first rate and the action is choreographed to a tee!  Elliot reminds me a little of Falkor, the dragon from The Neverending Story.  Elliot the dragon does not look like your standard image of the mythical reptile or Falkor that much but I think I like this version with fur better.
I have to say that following the ending credits I saw a lot of people wiping tears from their eyes but smiling as well.  This is a really good movie for the family.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that it will become a modern classic.  This film will be in family DVD libraries for decades to come.
Directed by: David Lowery
Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Robert Redford
MPAA Rating: PG (for action, peril and brief language)
Selig Rating: Full Price
Runtime: 102 Min.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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