Pete’s Dragon 2016, a blu-ray review
Jeff: Long time listeners know how much I love the original Pete’s Dragon. So when the remake was announced, needless to say, I was hesitant to see it. I resisted visiting the theaters to watch it, but when it finally showed up at my home, I popped it in. And I can say that, as a massive defender of the original, this remake has left me…pleasantly surprised.
George: I planned on seeing Pete’s Dragon in the theaters, but decided against it when some of the negative reviews were released. But, like Jeff, I was very interested in watching it when the blu-ray arrived. For starters, you kind of need to separate this movie from the 1977 original. It’s more of a reboot or reimagining than anything else. I have to admit that I am glad that it wasn’t a musical; that was a huge part of the charm of the original film. It would be hard to do it justice.
Jeff: This is the story of young Pete, who is tragically separated from his parents. He comes across the dragon, whom he names Elliott, and the two of them carve out a life together in the woods. Years later, Pete encounters Natalie by accident, when he wanders to far away from his home, setting off a chain reaction of being removed from his woodsy home and his claims of being raised by a dragon falling on deaf ears. It sounds somewhat simple in those terms, but it is an emotionally charged story from the very beginning.
George: Natalie and Pete befriend a park ranger and she’s heard stories about dragons all of her life from her father. The father, played by Robert Redford, has scared and enchanted kids for years about the dragon which he claims to have seen when he was a young boy. Story aside, the real gem of the film, like the original, is Elliot. He’s a computer-generated character and amazingly true-to-life.
Jeff: I was very impressed at how good the visual effects looked on my TV. Very visually stunning and it totally fooled me a few times. Elliot IS the heart of the story, and the fact that he looks so life-like helps a lot. The entire story really captivated me, and kept me enthralled. They did a wonderful job of re-imagining the original film and make a heartfelt story around it.
George: Elliot was amazing. It felt like you were watching a Labrador puppy hanging out with his best friend. But, it’s more than heartfelt and very sad at times. Both Pete and Elliot have to learn about themselves and grow up a bit. And it didn’t always feel like it was heading towards a happy ending. But the story surprised me and it felt like a film that just wasn’t given a chance.
Jeff: Technical wise, the film looks great on blu-ray. The greens, which is a pretty predominant color throughout the film, all look fantastic. Some darker colors look a little muted, but still passable. The sound mix is also top notch. Where it all lost me a bit was the lackluster extra features.
George: Agreed; the features simply weren’t that good. It’s also what we’ve seen on most initial releases from Disney. It’s as if they want to wait until an anniversary release to pack in the features.
Jeff: There were some simple behind the scenes fluff, and deleted scenes, leaving a lot to be desired. Maybe in a few years we’ll get more?
George: Otherwise, I think we both liked the film and recommend it. I did think a lot about the Pete’s Dragon book (The Lost Years) that we reviewed a while back. It actually makes a lot more sense now and fills in a lot of the gaps in the story. It might be a good book to check out again!