Pete's Dragon Reviewed By Jon E Clist



The Premise
The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.

The Review
First up let’s talk up the fact that this film was done in good old kiwi land. Whenever the Americans come down under and film in our neck of the woods it makes for a great spot the location game as you watch the story unfold. Over the years Disney has actually made quite decent amount of films here and it always leaves me asking… where do they hide all of these American cars? Sure I can see them loading up a plane or container with costumes, but it is a bit harder getting the multitudes of cars down here to shoot a film over a few months.

Then there is “spot the local actor” bingo. In general, it seems as though Disney has done a great job of staying away from recognizable New Zealand actors in order to fit in with the story, with the exception of Karl Urban. Who incidentally is rather brilliant as the villain. With the exception of his role as a hitman trying to kill Jason Bourne, Urban has focused on good guys and it is refreshing to see him bring a bit of the old grump to a role.

Pete’s Dragon covers all the Disney bases in that it will make you laugh, cry and above all fall for a dragon and his boy. The characters are so well put together and the inclusion of Robert Redford in the role of the older wiser man, is genius. It plays so well off the back of some of his previous roles such as The Horse Whisperer. ON a side note, Robert Redford actually rescued an abandoned horse on the second day of shooting. Good on ya Robert, that’s how live like a kiwi downunder. Add into the fray the brilliant role of Bryce Dallas Howard as the caring motherly forest ranger and you start to see a collection of characters that cover all bases for empathy. Especially that of the role of Pete, man this kid is brilliant. Oakes Fegley, now that's a great name for an actor and he is destined to be a great actor, keep an eye out on this kids career.

Then there is the dragon, Elliot is brilliant and one of the reasons that he is brilliant is that he is hairy. Director David Lowery explained why Elliott is a furry dragon in an IGN article, saying that he'd rather have "the kind of dragon you really want to give a hug to" than a Game Of Thrones type dragon, which he described as "cool, but scaly and cold". That works on so many angles and rally helps to love the dragon and I can see loads of kids coming out of the movie wanting a dragon of their own.

The Verdict
Lovable, charming, dynamic and a fabulous win for the mouse house. Pete’s Dragon slays the competition, but not with fire, instead with love, cuteness and connection.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 15th September 2016
Rating: PG – Contains low level violence
Duration: 103 minutes 
Genre:  Family
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, Oona Laurence
Director: David Lowery (ST Nick, Deadroom)

The Extras

Karl Urban replaces Michael C. Hall.

Levi Alexander, who plays Young Pete in the prologue, and Gareth Reeves, who plays his father, are actually related. They are first cousins, once removed.

In the 1977 musical, Grace's name was Nora, and her father's was Lampie. Pete was a runaway orphan from his abusive foster family, he at first had no human friends, and everyone in the town hated him. There was also a pair of penny-pinching doctors that tried to kill his dragon, Elliott.

Despite the fact that this a remake of the original 1977 film, director David Lowery described his version of Pete's Dragon is to be more of a "re-invention", rather than a straight-up remake. His ambition for the film was to distinguish itself from the 1977 film as much as possible and also that he wanted to reinvent the "the core story of a venerable Disney family film". Lowery even watched the following films: The Black Stallion (1979), The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Spirited Away (2001), and The Witch (2015), for artistic and visual inspiration.

World renown violinist, singer, composer, dancer, and performance artist Lindsey Stirling marks her film debut in Pete's Dragon (2016), as one of the film's composers.


At one point while Pete is running through town, he runs into a man holding a stack of cardboard boxes. This may be a reference to a scene in Pete's Dragon (1977) when Pete bumps into a man holding a large stack of cardboard egg cartons.