Pete’s Dragon 2016 | Movie Review

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🎥 Cinematography by Bojan Bazelli

👗 Costumes by Amanda Neale

🎬 Directed by David Lowery

🎞 Edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin

🎼 Music by Daniel Hart

📋 Produced by James Whitaker

📝 Screenplay by David Lowery & Toby Halbrooks

🌟 S T A R R I N G

🪓 Aaron Jackson as Abner

🌲 Bryce Dallas Howard as Grace Meacham

👮🏼‍♂️ Ian Harcourt as Deputy West

👮🏾‍♂️ Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Sheriff Gene Dentler

🌲 Jim McLarty as Ranger Wentworth

🐉 John Kassir as Elliot the Dragon

👨🏻 Karl Urban as Gavin Magary

🪓 Marcus Henderson as Woodrow

👦🏼 Oakes Fegley as Pete Healy | Levi Alexander as 5-Year-Old Pete

👧🏻 Oona Laurence as Natalie Magary

🪓 Phil Grieve as Bobby

📖 Robert Redford as Meacham

👮🏼‍♂️ Steve Barr as Deputy Smalls

👨🏻 Wes Bentley as Jack Magary

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The next Disney remake I’m reviewing is Pete’s Dragon. I’d never seen the original film or 2016 adaptation so I watched them back to back in release order:

•  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  S  P  O  I  L  E  R  S  •  A  H  E  A  D  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •

Starting with the 1977 film, the best parts were Elliot the puppy dog dragon, Mickey Rooney as Lampie the lighthouse keeper, & Helen Reddy’s angelic singing voice. Speaking of music, can I tell you a secret? I had absolutely no idea this movie was a musical! Color me surprised when the horrible Gogan family started singing while searching for Pete. I was aware of the famous song Candle on the Water but didn’t know there were other songs. Unfortunately this movie was not my cup of tea so there’s a golden opportunity for the remake to win my heart.

🌟 Rest in Peace Helen Reddy | October 25, 1941 – September 29, 2020 🌟 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Rx-B9KcIO8

UGH! It is so typical of Disney to start a movie by ripping out my heart with a parent’s death. In this case, two parents! Following the fatal car accident, little Pete picks up his backpack & wanders into the nearby forest where he meets Elliot. Elliot is a big, green, scary-looking dragon, but he immediately comes down to Pete’s level & reaches out to him, sensing that he needs him. Look at that, I’ve already used an entire box of tissues six minutes in. 😭

I want to be Jessica Chastain as a forest ranger when I grow up. That’s just a fact! 🌲 🐻 🌲 

Hats off to the special effects team! It’s amazing how they can make a boy playing with a dragon look so real. I have great respect for filmmakers who worked with much less before the 2000s & 2010s, but I also admire the strides that’ve been made in CGI. Absolutely incredible! 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻

 Politics in movies tend to earn an eye roll from viewers, but I really don’t mind the discussion about deforestation. It’s an important issue that has serious consequences, especially for animals who rely on trees. The contrast between the Magary brothers really makes you think. Gavin pushes the boundaries of ethics with his business practices, cutting down more trees than necessary. Jack believes there’s a way to run their family lumber mill without destroying the entire landscape of their home. In the end Gavin learns there’s more important things in life than greed.

Even though the updated scene has a more serious tone, Pete running through the town of Millhaven & unknowingly causing chaos is a nice callback to the very first Passamaquoddy scene in the original movie. I would suggest more tissues when Pete gets caught in an alleyway & starts howling. He’s like Mowgli in that moment, crying for help the only way he knows how. He’s been in the wild for years without supervision & doesn’t realize the adults are only trying to help him. 

• I know I shouldn’t have laughed, but the paramedics who dropped a patient off a stretcher at the sight of Elliot got a snort out of me. 😂 

Elliot goes looking for Pete as soon as he disappears. When his search brings him to the Magary house, he sees Pete with the family & leaves sad, thinking his friend no longer needs him. More tissues!

You have to watch the scene to truly appreciate the humor, but this exchange over the sheriff’s radio gave me the giggles:

👮🏾‍♂️ Sheriff Dentler: “Attention all units! We’re eastbound on Millhaven Road in pursuit of . . .”

👮🏼‍♂️ Deputy Smalls: “Dragon! It’s a dragon!”

👮🏾‍♂️ Sheriff Dentler: “You can’t say ‘dragon’ over the radio.”

• Being hunted by humans after so many quiet years in the forest confuses & scares Elliot. From atop the bridge, he starts breathing fire, something he hasn’t done the entire movie. The heat causes the bridge to collapse, putting Jack & Grace in danger. Pete pleads with Elliot to stop & help; his exact words are “I need them.” That’s all the green dragon needs to hear! He immediately snaps out of fight or flight mode & swoops in to save the day for his best friend. 💚

I would recommend another tissue box for the end. After the dust has settled from all the dragon hunting chaos, Elliot & Pete have a sweet exchange in front of the cave that used to be their home. They will always be friends, but it’s time to go their separate ways. Elliot needs to be a dragon, & Pete needs to be a boy. Have no fear! The Magary family still visits the legendary Millhaven dragon at his new home in the mountains.

💬 Closing Thoughts: This gorgeous movie with a sweet story may not land at the top of my rankings due to slow pacing in the middle & lack of nostalgia, but I’ll definitely rewatch it in the future. It’s a mix of Good Dinosaur in story & Twin Peaks in atmosphere. If you think the latter came out of left field, think again. Both are set in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s. Boom! Nailed it!

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🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 88% Critics | 72% Audience

❓ Original or Remake: This is an easy decision because I was not a fan of the original film. Remake!

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPOamb6d_20

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🎥 Stay tuned for another movie review tomorrow! 🍿 

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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