Pete's Dragon (2016)

8:06 AM

Some Secrets Are Too Big to Keep.
This review contains Spoilers
 Pete's Dragon is directed by David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Deadroom) and stars Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, The Help), Oakes Fegley, Robert Redford (The Sting, Out of Africa), Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games, American Beauty), Oona Laurence (Southpaw, Bad Moms) and Karl Urban (Dredd, Star Trek). "The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon". Will the next live action fairytale from Disney be as good as the others? 

Pete's Dragon is one of my favourite films of the year! There is so much to like about it! Disney has done it again - they have generally been very strong in 2016 (exceptions are Alice 2 and The BFG) but this, Finding Dory, Zootopia and The Jungle Book have all been absolutely fantastic. Pete's Dragon has to be one of the most emotional and heartwarming films I have seen all year - very powerful. There are couple of minor missteps but they are only minor and are easily forgiven. Pete's Dragon helps Disney to continue flying high. 

I thought the visuals in this film were stunning - the cinematography was exceptional. Films like this prove you don't need a whole film of CGI to have good visuals (even though Elliot is CGI) - the actual camera work in Pete's Dragon was fantastic. The locations and just every shot was beautiful to look at. I don't usually give shoutouts to cinematographers but Bojan Bazelli did an outstanding job - award worthy in my opinion. 

The cinematography is excellent but so is the CGI of Elliot the Dragon - one of the best characters of 2016. Elliot is a furry dragon which may not satisfy some people but I thought that creative choice worked really well with the personality of the character. Elliot is an adorable character - the way he acts like a dog is hilarious and as a dog-owner, it did make me feel much more connected to the character. Elliot is the reason this film gets so emotional - when he is captured and restless, I felt extremely sorry for him. The film is also subtle with the way the character is developed - it actually took me a while to realise Elliot is also lost and detached from his family - looking back, this makes the ending even more emotional. The interaction and chemistry between Pete and Elliot is also fantastic - not only are the visuals of their interactions fantastic, you actually feel like Elliot is real as Oakes Fegley does a fantastic job convincing the audience that he actually is interacting with a dragon. I also really liked the visuals when Elliot went invisible - they were very impressive. Elliot really is the heart and soul of Pete's Dragon. 

The performances are also strong across the board in this film. Bryce Dallas Howard does a fantastic job and is extremely likeable as Grace. I liked Dallas Howard in Jurassic World and I liked her again here - she may be becoming one of my favourite actresses. I thought the chemistry between Fegley and Dallas Howard was sweet and heartwarming. Dallas Howard also interacted well with Elliot. The human star of the show though is definitely Oakes Fegley who proves once again that child actors are not always bad - he is great! Fegley definitely plays a part in creating the emotion and his chemistry with all of the characters he becomes close too is very good. Another child actor I was impressed by is Oona Laurence - she was great in Southpaw and is once again very strong here. Now, here is when the film has a couple of missteps - Robert Redford and Karl Urban. Redford is good when he is on-screen but he really isn't used enough - Disney could have hired any actor for that role. The only poor performance in the entire film (in my opinion) was Karl Urban - I think he was miscast and I didn't really believe him as the villain of the film - he didn't execute his lines that well at all. 

What really made Pete's Dragon a special film is its plot and how small this $65 million picture felt. Pete's Dragon felt like the quality of an awards film - I wouldn't be surprised if it picks up a few nominations. Pete's Dragon didn't feel like an epic Disney blockbuster, it felt like a small, niche, independent family film. The plot is quite slow but I found that refreshing - not much happens but time is spent fleshing out the three main characters which I appreciated. Then when the film did become dramatic, all of the emotions that were intended to be felt were. David Lowery did a fantastic job directing this film, it is one of the year's best. From the scene at the beginning to the final scene, Pete's Dragon is an emotional roller coaster. This film also borrows from many others - I would say it is Room meets The Jungle Book meets The Good Dinosaur but I loved it and that combination really did make something special. 

Pete's Dragon is one of the best films I have seen all year - it has got to be the film that has had the biggest emotional impact on me. Elliot is a brilliant character - the visuals of this charming dragon are fantastic. Bryce Dallas Howard, Oona Laurence and Oakes Fegley all do terrific jobs and have great chemistry with each other and Elliot. The cinematography is beautiful and this film really is of a good quality. Bring your tissues, as you will witness Elliot's highs and lows on this emotional roller coaster that may just be the film of the summer. 


84
/100

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