Months and months ago I saw the first trailer for Pete’s Dragon. My first impression was a little bit like, “what the heck did they do?!” We all have those classic Disney films we love and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the old saying, so that was my feelings. I suppose I felt a little protective of it. Then another trailer came out, then another and the more I watched these, the more excited I became. Disney wasn’t trying to remake the film, they reimagined it and in my opinion, made it better.
Disclosure: I was invited on a press trip for Disney Entertainment. My travel and accommodations were provided by Disney. All opinions are my own unless noted otherwise. No further compensation was received.
This new film stars Bryce Dallas Howard (Grace), Robert Redford (Meacham), Oakes Fegley (Pete), Oona Laurence (Natalie), Wes Bentley (Jack, Natalie’s father) and Karl Urban(Gavin, Jack’s brother) and is written and directed by David Lowery. The film has been drawing rave reviews from both audiences and critics ever since the Los Angeles world premiere. Here’s my opinion of the film and if you should bring your kids.
The film opens with a vast open forest and you instantly fall in love with the environment. Filmed in New Zealand so large mountains and greenery for as far as the eye can see. I know where I want to book a trip to visit, that’s for sure. It’s a happy time in Pete’s young life and everything is good in the world, or so he thinks.
He soon meets what will become his very best friend: Elliot. Elliot has some cute dog-like qualities to him and you can tell that was intentional as Disney tied in the relationship Pete had with his most prized possession: Elliot Gets Lost (also written by David Lowery). A book Pete’s parents had given him and he is sure to never let go of. So is Elliot imaginary or real? In Pete’s eyes, he’s very real and a friend that is there for him when no one else is. Pete and Elliot bond for years and years without a care in the world then something big happens.
The acting chops on this young actor, Oaks Fegley, is nothing short of perfection. The emotion he portrays in this heart-string pulling film made me feel like I was there with him. He made me scared for him, he made me feel sadness and happiness. I thought of my own kids and the “what ifs”. We’re not even 10 minutes into the film and I’ve already fallen in love and became hooked forever. I didn’t have the same emotions while watching the classic 1977 Pete’s Dragon.
Robert Redford helps to narrate the film but definitely not in an annoying way but the narration quickly stops and becomes about the film and less about the stories that Robert’s character tell to the town’s children.
By the middle of the film, I was already crying. I’m not even lying, if you have any sort of soul, bring the entire box of tissue to see this movie. By the end, I was a sobbing ugly-crying mess. The emotion hit me hard, I believe because I’m a mother so I could put myself in these situations and wonder how my kids would deal, if that was my daughter or son in that situation, etc. For me, the main thing I love is that the emotion connects and makes sense with the film.
Nothing feels out of place or forced which I look for in a movie I’m watching. I don’t like the “they really didn’t need to do that to make the story work” I sometimes feel. I didn’t get that with Pete’s Dragon. Everything they did worked and fit in.
Will I take my kids? Yes, I’ll be taking my 6-year-old and 11-year-old to see it tomorrow night after school for sure. It’s not scary at all. Elliot does get “mean” at times but not in a scary way. With my younger daughter having night terrors and bad dreams I think very hard before taking her to see a movie. Pete’s Dragon won’t scare her but I’m sure both girls will end of crying because they’re just like their mama.
Pete’s Dragon opens TOMORROW, August 12,2016 in theaters everywhere. AFTER watching the movie come back to read my interview with one of the stars of the film, Bryce Dallas Howard!
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