<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by David Lowery. Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Isiah Whitlock Jr
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
The Ben-Hur remake has made me want to start a campaign against watching remakes. Thankfully, Pete’s Dragon has given me a wee bit of hope.
The original Pete’s Dragon (1977) was one of my childhood favourites. It was one of the first films to incorporate 2D animation with live action. Sure, the dragon didn’t look real but it was touching and wondrous, which you can’t say for most CGI creatures nowadays.
I don’t remember the story and I’m pretty sure the new version isn’t the same but it has heart. It’s subtle pace gives the characters time to develop and shine. Even though the dragon doesn’t speak – thankfully – his almost doggie like behaviour endears him to you from the get go. The relationship between the almost-Tarzan like boy Pete (Oakes Fegley) and Eliot the dragon is heart warming and sentimental.
Most CGI animals and monsters in films tend to look like, as if a template has been used and diligently followed to appeal to mass sensibilities. But Pete’s Dragon has a creature that is unlike most we’ve seen. A dragon that is furry and green with a face that’s almost like a dog. Sometimes it’s angry but at others it’s the cutest thing.
The film’s hero is of course Pete, played by Oakes Fegley, who lived in the forest for 6 years with his dragon buddy until a forest ranger played by Bryce Dallas Howard stumbles upon him. Of course, whenever humanity comes face-to-face with something they don’t understand they are hell bent on killing it or hunting it down for research or profit. As if destroying the forests isn’t enough, they displace and destroy the creatures that live in peace within its fold.
Pete’s Dragon is a short, simple tale that has so much heart in it that it’ll bring tears to your eyes and perhaps even rekindle the magic in your heart. This is the one to watch this week.
PS: Note the similarity in tone and feel with a Steven Spielberg classic. The inspiration is palpable but I’ll let you guess the movie.