There’s nothing too wrong with Disney’s 2016 remake of Pete’s Dragon. But there’s little that’s exceptional and worth remembering too.
Five-year-old Pete is stranded in the forest after a car accident kills both his parents. He is attacked by wolves but quickly rescued by a green dragon, whom Pete names Elliot. Six years later, a lumberjack crew starts clearing the forest, and Pete is sighted by Natalie, the daughter of the foreman. Natalie’s family then retrieves Pete and attempts to reintegrate him into human society. Meanwhile, Gavin, one of the lumberjacks, is determined to hunt down Elliot.
I’ve mentioned in my other reviews that I’m not supportive of movie remakes. They just seem impossible to get right, wouldn’t you agree? Regurgitate too much of the original and the remake becomes dreary. Inject too much fresh material and even the most accommodating fan of the original would be incensed. Just what is the right formula, if any at all?
Pete’s Dragon (2016) doesn’t fall into either of these traps. In fact, I must say the new version of Elliot the Green Dragon wasn’t at all the menacing, Smaug-like monstrosity I feared CGI would transform him into. By practically rewriting the plot, and adding an updated backstory to Pete, there’s also a deeper poignancy. I feel this effectively broadened the appeal of the movie.
On the other hand, with the original movie no more than a run-of-the-mill orphan-ends-up-great story, there was little else that could have been done to further enrich the movie. You know what’s going to happen at the end. You’re never too worried by Karl Urban’s animosity, and neither do you expect any greatness from Robert Redford’s sagely elder. Pete’s Dragon (2016) ends up being a fun, occasionally moving, predictable small town adventure suitable for a family night out. You would enjoy it, but it’s unlikely to stick in your head. It’s unlikely to end up on most people’s lists of top kids movies too.
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