Movie Review: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

imageAlthough a perfectly acceptable way to kill time with your kids and an occasionally sweet tale, David Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon remake (C-) adds very little to the Disney canon or to movies about kids and their is-he-or-isn’t-he-real fantasy friends. Shucking the musical sequences and cornball whimsy and melodrama of the 1977 original (not to mention the charming Don Bluth animation), the new Pete’s plunges its titular protagonist into a straight drama about a boy whose parents die in a car wreck in the Pacific Northwest, leaving him to be befriended and raised by the reclusive mythical dragon Elliot with neon green fur. A kindly forest ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard) discovers and helps the orphan boy while an opportunist lumberjack played by Karl Urban tries to hunt and exploit the creature. Child actor Oakes Fegley does his best with an underwritten and moptopped role. From Howard’s glassy eyed acting, it would appear she was trained aboard The Polar Express. Even the dragon is only passable, a distant cousin of Falkor from The Neverending Story. The slight script, the dank film quality and the predictability of virtually every sequence don’t help matters. File this with the Jungle Book remake and BFG as family films that are a bit of an insufferable slog.

I've reviewed films for more than 20 years. Current movie reviews of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video or streaming films are added weekly to the Silver Screen Capture movie news site. Many capsule critiques originally appeared in expanded form in my syndicated Lights Camera Reaction column.

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Posted in 2016

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