Thursday, August 18, 2016

[Review] Pete's Dragon

Between The Jungle Book, The Legend of Tarzan, Captain Fantastic, and now Pete's Dragon--there have been a lot of boys being raised in the wild this year. Director David Lowery remakes Disney's 1977 musical with live action and CGI, and the result is fairly lovely, for the most part.

After an off-road car crash, Pete (Oakes Fegley) is left alone in the woods until he meets a friendly, furry dragon (he's basically presented as big green dog with wings) who we'll come to know as Elliott. Eventually, a skeptical forest ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World) and her legend-telling father (Robert Redford) discover the hidden secret and work to preserve the beast.

It's part fish-out-of-water (more appropriately, boy-out-of-woods) adoption story. Part familiar E.T. and Iron Giant territory. Part Monster Quest. Part "FREE ELLIOTT." Along with a couple of majestic scenes of the dragon pal flying above the attractive horizon, there's also some pleasant montages of Pete curiously navigating his newfound life in town. The sequences are boosted with a prominent folk soundtrack, which often lends the quality of a narrative music video to the movie.

But amidst the beauty, there's a lot of bad dialogue and cringeworthy acting put up with. Karl Urban, who has displayed some great turns in stuff like The Lord of the Rings and the new Star Trek reboots, plays a one-dimensional prick of a hunter in this. You'll likely want to punch him in the face or hope that Elliott tosses him into the distance. That said, Isiah Whitlock Jr. aka Clay Davis from "The Wire" shows up here as a sheriff, and when he first lays eyes upon the dragon, he pauses and intently utters, "Oh my word..." If you've seen "The Wire", you'll probably imagine him saying something else. Whether it's a conscious nod or not, it's one of the better line deliveries in the film.

So despite some of the cheesiness in the midsection, Pete's Dragon is still a sweet and fantastical film for the family. (It could've used more Redford though.) It's all about bonding and friendships. I even got a bit of dragon mist in my eyes at the end. We sure love our creatures, don't we?

( 7.5/10 )

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