A present day example of what we call Disney magic. David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints) makes the shift into family entertainment with this quite remarkable remake of a lesser 70's Disney entry. Old fashioned and manipulative in part...sure, but when the formula works...it works. Well cast especially young Oakes Fegley who is aces throughout. Put the cynic inside you aside and enjoy.
"Pete's Dragon" is a remake with its heart in the right place: "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" director David Lowery graduates to the Disney big leagues while still retaining some of the visual poetry of his earlier films, and it's clear he's a student of the Amblin tradition. But the characters here feel so underdeveloped that all the attempts at heart-tugging, "E.T"-style moments land with a thud rather than tears.
Visually dazzling, as to be expected, but maybe if we didn't get Jungle Book the same year, this would be a more memorable film. Unlike Jungle Book, which had a ton of excellent characters and high-stakes adventure, this feels decidedly smaller scale in the respect that, rather than immerse you in a world, it's keen with trying to make you emotional. A lot of that took me out of the visual wonderment on display here.
A brilliantly unpretentious family melodrama that, in so many ways, supersedes the original tale. Connects the age-old threads of belonging and childlike faith, while always looking at the world with wide-eyed wonder and an open heart. Faith in humanity: +1.
3-3.5. The climax is kinda messy, but the movie is all-around warm and meditative, leaning more on action and body language (and a bit of symbolism) than a complicated conflict. It fits together so well, and grabs at an unusually high number of nuances about the way people interact with the part of them that's connected to nature. A really pleasant surprise, all in all.
There is an efficiency to this which is satisfying but only insofar as it exists in a family film. It's competent and technically sound but never misses a beat, in a pejorative. I am glad kids will see it but also cautious now, knowing of Ghost, that it serves mostly to allow Lowery to do a personal project. Lovely but safe 2.5