Disney’s Pete’s Dragon: Looks Can Be Deceiving

David Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon tells the story of young Peter (Oakes Fegley). When he’s in a car accident, his parents are killed, and he’s adopted by a dragon.

Pete’s Dragon (1977), for me, is an absolute classic. So when I heard that a remake was in the works, I was sceptical, and a little agitated that one of my favourite movies growing up was getting the live-action treatment. That being said, I said the same thing about Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book and that was phenomenal. The new imagination of Pete’s Dragon is really something great too. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this movie was. Like Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins, Pete’s Dragon (1977) is quite trippy in the way that it’s a cartoon live-action mongrel. Pete’s Dragon (1977) is probably the weirdest Disney movie in the whole animated canon, and that’s counting Fantasia too.

As Pete in the Disney remake of Pete's Dragon (Pete's Dragon, Walt Disney Pictures)

Oakes Fegley As Pete in the Disney remake of Pete’s Dragon (2016)
(Pete’s Dragon, Walt Disney Pictures)

This Disney remake is truly excellent. And coming from a sceptic, I have to say that I like this more than the original movie. In this incarnation, Pete is a low-key Tarzan living in the woods with his trusty companion Elliot The Dragon; big, green and winged. Elliot and Pete’s relationship is a bit like man and dog. Soon into the movie, the locals start to look to the forest in suspicion and wonder, about the tall tales of dragons from Mr Meacham (Robert Redford). Here, we see humanity at its very worst. Human nature comes to the forefront when they want to hunt the dragon for profit, to feed their own selfish ambitions as we see with Karl Urban (Star Trek: Beyond) as Gavin. Time and time again, there are examples of excellent cinematography and first class acting performances, most notably from Fegley (Boardwalk Empire) as Pete. He’s a fresh face and his performance is great.

From seeing Lily James (PPZ) in Cinderella in 2013 and most recently seeing Jon Favreau’s stellar Jungle Book remake in early 2016, Disney have my absolute attention. We have Beauty & The Beast coming out next March with Emma Watson as Belle and a reimagining of The Little Mermaid coming in 2017 too. You had my curiosity Disney, but now you have my attention. Disney’s CGI is masterclass as we saw with nearly all-CG Jungle Book, excluding Neel Sethi as Mowgli. Disney are capable of reinventing classic stories with a modern flare thus creating a new generation of fans in the process. They’re making movies that adults are going to see, even without their kids. Pete’s Dragon could have easily been a clunky botched job, but it’s anything but. The acting performances are first-rate and the CGI on Elliot is excellent, showing that yes…it is computer generated but with a sense of awe and professionalism.

The big and friendly dragon Elliot (Pete's Dragon, Walt Disney Pictures)

The big and friendly dragon, Elliot
(Pete’s Dragon, Walt Disney Pictures)

Pete’s Dragon is a masterpiece and Lowery brings audiences to tears at just the right moments and there’s many laugh-out-loud moments too. Many examples of physical comedy like when Elliot actions a dragon-sized sneeze all over Gavin. Like most Disney movies, it has good messages for the kids about morality and ethics about doing the right thing even if everyone else says “no”. When they say “no”, you say “yes”. Just because you’re in the mironity, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Stay true to yourself, and you will prevail. Stand firm and say “you move.” That’s evident with Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) and Robert Redford (Captain America: The Winter Solider) in their respective roles as Grace Meacham, her father, Mr Meacham with Grace’s daughter, Natalie (Oona Laurence). These are the heroes of our story who try to stop loggers from ruining nature and the green places of the world. With excellent pacing, great performances and that feel good vibe, Pete’s Dragon is one to watch for the masses.

Pete’s Dragon is a classic in the making