There’s nothing too wrong with Disney’s 2016 remake of Pete’s Dragon. But there’s little that’s exceptional and worth remembering too.
Pete’s Dragon (2016) Synopsis
Five-year-old Pete is stranded in the forest after a car accident kills both his parents. He is attacked by wolves but quickly rescued by a green dragon, whom Pete names Elliot. Six years later, a lumberjack crew starts clearing the forest, and Pete is sighted by Natalie, the daughter of the foreman. Natalie’s family then retrieves Pete and attempts to reintegrate him into human society. Meanwhile, Gavin, one of the lumberjacks, is determined to hunt down Elliot.
I’ve mentioned in my other reviews that I’m not supportive of movie remakes. They just seem impossible to get right, wouldn’t you agree? Regurgitate too much of the original and the remake becomes dreary. Inject too much fresh material and even the most accommodating fan of the original is incensed. Just what is the right formula, if it exists at all?
Pete’s Dragon (2016) doesn’t fall into either of the traps highlighted above. In fact, I must say the new version of Elliot the Green Dragon wasn’t at all the menacing, Smaug-like monstrosity I feared CGI would transform him into. By extensively rewriting the plot, and adding an updated backstory to Pete, I feel there’s also a deeper poignancy. This effectively broadened the overall appeal of the remake.
The above said, with the original movie itself no more than a run-of-the-mill orphan-ends-up-great story, there was little else that could have been done to further enrich the plot. You know what’s going to happen at the end. You’re never too worried by Karl Urban’s animosity as well, and neither do you expect any greatness from Robert Redford’s sagely elder. Pete’s Dragon (2016) ends up being no more than a fun, occasionally moving, predictable small-town adventure suitable for a family night out. It entertains but is unlikely to stick in anybody’s head. It’s unlikely to end up on most people’s lists of top kids movies too.
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