Pete’s Dragon was one of those films that I knew of but never watched all the way through. Aside from the recognizable animated dragon with a pink tuft of fur, I wasn’t familiar with the story. So, I made sure to watch the 1977 version to prepare myself before seeing the new one. They’re actually unrelated. The new live-action Pete’s Dragon movie is a completely different film! The story, characters, setting, and everything else (except for Pete and Elliot) have been drastically changed. The result? Disney’s Pete’s Dragon movie is a totally new and wonderfully charming film. It’s an instant family classic for everyone.
Pete’s Dragon Movie Review — Old VS New
The major departure from the previous version is that this Pete’s Dragon movie is not a musical. Also, though Pete is an orphan in this movie too, he’s not running from a cuckoo family who wants to use him for child labor. As a young boy, Pete was on a road trip with his parents in the forest. A terrible car accident leaves Pete as the sole survivor, stranded in a wilderness miles away from any civilization. Before he can fully process what’s happened, Elliot saves and befriends Pete. I should mention that, though the parents do die, the crash is not graphic at all.
Elliot is still green but now he’s HUGE, furry, has a massive wingspan, and can camouflage himself (as opposed to turning “invisible” like the old version). He actually fits in perfect with the environment. Well, as natural as a CG dragon in a New Zealand forest can. Elliot acts like a lovable giant dog who grunts, howls, and chases his tail. As a dog owner, I love this take on Elliot. The two become best friends and live together for six years.
Unfortunately, a lumber company is cutting deeper and deeper into the forest. The local forest ranger, Grace, is fighting the expansion. But, things get complicated since the owners of the company are her boyfriend and his brother. One day, while in the area, Grace finds Pete and takes him back to town. They try to unravel the mystery of how Pete survived in the forest for so long. Events lead to the exposure of Elliot. That’s when things start getting hairy (slight pun intended).
Pete’s Dragon Movie Review — Old VS New
This Pete’s Dragon movie instantly draws you into the story and creates an immediate attachment to the characters. Acting is seamless and the attention to subtle gestures and emotions work well. The film doesn’t feature a “good versus evil” storyline and there’s no actual villain per say. This was kind of refreshing as it makes the plot more light-hearted. Instead, Pete’s Dragon is focuses on family and many forms it can take.
Though being respectful of nature is touched on, I didn’t get an overly “save the environment” sentiment weaved in which, again, was nice. Sometimes you just want a nice movie to enjoy with the family with no deeper messaging or undertones. Pete’s Dragon is just that — a simple story, full of heart, being told in a whimsical and memorable way. FYI, I cried during the movie… a lot. If you’re prone to ugly crying at every emotional cue like me, then I would suggest you bring tissues.
Pete’s Dragon Movie Review — All-Around Family-Friendly
The live-action Pete’s Dragon movie is 100% safe for families with kids of most ages. There’s no foul language, no innuendo, and the characters all have redeeming qualities. Extremely sensitive children may not like the parents dying, when Elliot gets mad, or when they shoot tranquilizers at him. In general, though, I think kids ages five and up will love it. Adults will appreciate the superb acting and how the movie creates a feeling of nostalgia and wonder. I can’t wait to watch it again but, this time, I want to see it with my family!
Pete’s Dragon will be in theaters August 12, 2016!
- Visit the official website: http://movies.disney.com/petes-dragon-2016
- Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyPetesDragon
- Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneypetes
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney in honor of the Pete’s Dragon movie. All opinions are my own.