The best thing about Pete’s Dragon is undoubtedly that it preserves the nostalgic element for the adults, whilst maintaining the sense of adventure that belongs in a children’s film. Sitting down to watch Pete’s Dragon, you might be expecting a rehash of the tongue-in-cheek 1977 original. Rest assured, this is a completely different creature altogether. If you’re hoping for the absurd humour of its predecessor, there’s none to be found here. But when you have tears rolling down your face, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Pixar’s Up, you’ll be relieved that this is the case.
Pete’s Dragon has all the indicators of being a flop, which is why it’s a very welcome surprise when it turns out to be warm, emotional, and highly enjoyable. But the main selling point is that it doesn’t feel like a blockbuster – it’s a children’s film for starters, but not one that’s been heavily anticipated. It doesn’t have a cult following, and – all-star cast aside – has all the markers of a low-budget, independent country film. The soundtrack helps here, tripping along subtly in the background, aiding the emotion that is rife throughout. The film touches upon tricky subject matter, such as parental loss, loneliness, and loyalty, without labouring the point. Basically, Pete’s Dragon has its work cut out for it. And luckily for us, it delivers.
The one downfall? It’s indescribably jarring watching Wes Bentley ride a dragon. There’s more than paper bags flying here.
Frankly, this is the best children’s film of 2016. Whilst it is reminiscent of the plotline of The Jungle Book, which hit cinemas earlier this year, this is undoubtedly better. Our only criticism? A stellar cast that seem slightly out of place in what should be a low budget ‘feely.’
CAST: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban
DIRECTOR: David Lowery
WRITERS: David Lowery, Toby Halbrooks
SYNOPSIS: The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just happens to be a dragon.