Quick Hit: Neither original nor terribly inspiring, it runs into the boring territory much more often than you would like for a family film.
One of the troubles with remakes is the fact that, most of the time (not always – look at the recent DFP review of The Departed) remakes cannot, by their very nature, be original. They are relying too much on the source material. This is becoming a problem that everyone is harping about, and I know I have too, so I won’t continue it here. I’m all for the live-action remakes of Disney classics – quite often they are a good bit of nostalgia for the generation that grew up with Disney constantly on. My problem with Pete’s Dragon lies further than its unoriginal turn of events and story. My problem is that they made it so boring.
Nothing happens in this movie that you wouldn’t expect to happen (aside from the kid being found by a dragon thing). Once we move into the meat of the movie, after the fun scene of Elliot and Pete living in the woods together, all originality goes out the window. I was so excited when I saw a cast that included Bryce Dallas Howard (who recently did another unoriginal, if better film in Jurassic World), Karl Urban, and Robert Redford. Bryce is known for playing characters that are a little different – Lady in the Water, The Village, etc. But here, she plays a watered down version of a typical character. Robert Redford falls into typical old man character, and Karl Urban falls into villainous southern hic guy. These actors' talents were all wasted in this film, which had a chance to be the rare thing: a remake that seems original and, dare I say it, magical.
I also wasn’t sold on the dragon. Why is it so dog-like? Just because the filmmakers are too lazy to think up other ways for an animal to behave. My fellow blogger Mr. Donahue brought up this recent trend in family films, and I really agree with him here. It’s getting a big overused.
The story was nothing exceptional either, but there is at least some emotion throughout. It’s that, and the scenery of the film that saves it from being a complete waste of time. The mill town is a typical small town (it actually looks a lot like the set from the original Thor), but the forest is very well done. As I stated in the beginning, the highlight of the film for me is the playful scene between Elliot and Pete. It speaks of a whimsy that the rest of the film fails to generate, despite the fact that the movie is about a kid and his pet dragon.
All these things come together to form a film that is pretty dull at times, and leaves you forgetting what happened almost immediately after watching. I’m only going to give Pete’s Dragon a “C-“ for being so terribly average.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"