Photo Property of the Disney Company, http://movies.disney.co.uk/pictures/petes-dragon-movie-picture-gallery
Beginning with the 2015 live-action Cinderella, Disney has started releasing remakes of its oldies-but-goodies. With Pete’s Dragon, Disney departed from the technique they’ve employed so far of adapting animated movies as live action and instead simply replaced the animated dragon in the mostly live action movie with a computer generated creation. Pete’s Dragon was an interesting choice for a remake since it lacks the “classic” status Cinderella and The Jungle Book enjoy. That said, the movie did garner some attention in its day, particularly for its score, and Disney has adapted the plot to incorporate a timely message about caring for the earth and all its living creatures.
Pete’s Dragon (in both versions) follows the story of a boy named Pete and his protective, misunderstood, invisible, flying, fire-breathing dragon-friend, Elliot. Aside from that basic backbone, every other aspect of the film was changed (and, in my opinion, improved). Instead of a musical set in a turn-of-the-century, backwater fishing town, the new version follows the story of nuanced characters in a logging town dealing with an extraordinary situation. With strong acting and surprisingly seamless incorporation of the computer-generated Elliot, the new Pete’s Dragon is a decent film. I can’t say it was groundbreaking in any way, or even that I would go out of my way to see it again, but it was a sweet experience. I would recommend it for families with young kids or for devoted Disney fans, especially those who remember the release of the original. The aspect I found most fascinating was that the creators chose to set the film in the same era the original film was released – that is, the late 70s to early 80s. The nostalgic setting made the movie more appealing even for me – I imagine it would impact fans who grew up in that era even more so. Being able to see a Disney film at our local theater is always a treat, so I’m grateful for the film’s release and for the reminder that caring for the environment is another great way to keep the spirit of Disney alive at home.