Pete’s Dragon (2016)
As a young boy, Pete (Oakes Fegley) is orphaned and left to live in the woods for many years, however, Pete is not alone. Pete is “rescued” by a mysterious and friendly dragon named Elliot who keeps him save from the dangers of the wild. After 6 years of living together, Pete is discovered by Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) and taken away from Elliot, but when Pete desires to return to the forest, Elliot is captured and Pete must do what he can to protect his best friend from harm.
I want to make this perfectly clear, this is NOT a remake! This movie is a reworking of the original idea because this movie is completely different from the original. I love the original. I grew up watching it and singing along to the many happy tunes and tearing up when Elliot lights the wick in the lighthouse. None of that is here. This movie is set sometime in the 1970s or 80s out in the middle of trees and a giant forest – far far away from any ocean. There are no songs, period. Other than Pete, the characters are very different from the original. Elliot is ALL green and acts like Pete’s dog. They should have made him Red and called him Clifford, making a whole different movie! Speaking of color, Elliot is green and PINK, yet no where on him is pink! They could have made his wings flesh-colored to give the pink look, or made the hair on his back lighter, but Elliot looks like a giant dog with moss growing all over him! I didn’t buy that dragon as Elliot for a second. They eliminated the hillbilly gang looking for Pete and the crooked doctor wanting to capture Elliot. They changed Nora’s name to Grace and the old man isn’t even drunk anymore! I really didn’t like this movie.
From the opening scene where we learn how Pete’s family dies and how Elliot rescues him from killer wolves (yup, it gets real) this movie is depressing and uncomfortable. Sure, this movie pulls at the heart strings when Elliot gets captured, but they turn Elliot into the BAD GUY! Seriously!?!? I mean, in the original, Elliot is a punk who plays jokes and is mischievous, but he doesn’t put people near death! The only saving grace that prevented me from protesting that no one ever see this version is the very end. They added something that I personally would have loved to see in the original film. The scene would have been a minor change for the original, but it was a saving factor for this one to prevent me for using the word “hate.” I don’t know who is giving this movie thumbs up, but they obviously never saw the original. I’m pretty sure if you showed this movie to a 12 year old, they would enjoy it, but that is in a vacuum.
At the end of the day, drastically changing the characters made me feel detached from the idea of “Pete’s Dragon” and removing the songs took away the happy moments that countered the depressing ones. This version of Pete’s Dragon is horrible, and it might have worked if they made it a stand alone film without ties to something we know and love, but they messed with something in the wrong way. The Jungle Book came out several months ago and they did that quite well. The characters felt the same and they even included songs! Ugh, avoid this mess. I need to go sing now! Co-starring Robert Redford, Karl Urban, Wes Bentley, Oona Laurence, and Isiah Whitlock Jr.
3/10 Stars – Maybe people who never saw the original might like this, but if you know anything about the 1977 version then you will have a bad taste throughout! It’s just depressing!