Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pete's Dragon Review: Disney Remake Is A Charming Yet Tame Experience

Disney have been busy as of late with the likes of their retelling to their animated classics. This trend of films has been successful for the studio with movies such as The Jungle Book being a hit earlier this year. So perhaps it is easy enough to believe that Walt Disney would develop a straight up remake to one of their films. Such is the case for the latest adventure from Walt Disney Studios: Pete's Dragon. Pete's Dragon is based on the 1977 film about a boy named Pete who befriends a dragon that only appears to the young orphan. Judging from the remake's trailers, it would appear that the 2016 film would follow in similar footsteps to its predecessor; albeit with its own sense of direction. So is this remake a magical time at the movies or is Pete's Dragon unable to soar to great heights?

The film's story centers on Pete (Oakes Fegely): a boy who gets lost in the woods after an accident killed his parents. Yet Pete was able to survive thanks to meeting a dragon that he calls Elliott. For six years Pete and Elliot lived happily in the woods, but all of that changes when Pete encounters the forest ranger Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard). After Pete gets hurt, Grace takes the boy back to town where she hopes to find out more about Pete's background. With Pete not around Elliot finds himself in trouble when the hunter Gavin (Karl Urban) discovers the dragon and decides to catch Elliot in order to get famous.

The story to Pete's Dragon was as straightforward as it was simple. When it came down to it this plot was about a boy and his dragon; and there was nothing wrong with that notion. The only issue I found with the story was that it could be underwhelming. This was due to the story's concept of the world dealing with mysterious being like Elliot. This idea has been done again and again that it has come to a point where a movie such as Pete's Dragon could not do much to make this concept refreshing. However that is not to say the film's story was bad. While it may not change the wheel, the movie still tells a tale that was engaging and charming. It may not have had much of an impact but the story was effective enough to get the job done.

The cast to this fantasy adventure was definitely a solid one. Both Bryce Dallas Howard and Oakes Fegely had solid performances as the two leads, and the movie feature a good supporting cast with the likes of  Wes Bentley (Jack), Oona Laurence (Natalie) and of course Robert Redford (Mr.Meacham). However though the cast was good, I found the characters themselves to be lacking in certain areas. While the characters were good there was not much about them that made the group interesting; although they did have their moments. Take Karl Urban as Gavin for example. While his motives could be blunt, the character was effective thanks to his understandable direction and the fact that Gavin was not a mere villain.  I also cannot leave out the character of Elliot. Through his expression and the vocal sounds from John Kassir, Elliot was a character that I could easily enjoy, and this certainly helped the friendship between Pete and Elliot as it made their connection was all the more believable.

In 1977 Pete's Dragon got viewers attention by featuring a animated character in live action film. For the time this cinematic concept was a scarce thing so it certainly left impression for the original film. Yet we live in a age where animated and computer generated characters are seen on a regular basis, so this movie featuring a CG dragon is nothing new. However this is not to say the movie's effects were bad. While it may not have reinvented the concept the effects were still solid as movie's use of a cg dragon was both inventive and bit creative. Also working in favor of the film's spectacle was its cinematography which featured several beautiful shots. Another stand out factor was the movie's music. The score by Danial Hart was effective as it featured tracks that were soothing. However the more intriguing direction was the pop songs featured in the movie. The songs themselves were not bad as each of them did work in context in their respected scenes. However the movie would use these songs to excessive degree to the point where music would begin to detract from their presented moments.

Pete's Dragon certainly had a sense of magic to it, but this is not to say that this adventure did not have its share of missteps. When it came down to it there was not much to this remake that led to a lasting impression with me. Most of the film's factors such as story and effects have been done before and made this movie feel a tad underwhelming. Yet that is not to say that Pete's Dragon did not have its share of merits. While there is not much to it the movie had a sense of charm which was seen in the likes of its cast as well as its creativity. When it came down to it Pete's Dragon may not have soared through the skies, but this remake managed fly away gracefully by being an enjoyable time at the movies.

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