I have fond memories of dragons, thanks to our grade school adviser, who introduced us to Puff, the magic dragon.
We weren’t terrified of the mythical creatures. For us, they weren’t the scary fire-breathing animals but friendly, fun-loving creatures who like sailing, strings, and sealing wax.
Elliot reminded me of Puff.
And it’s probably one of the many things I liked about “Pete’s Dragon.”
Aside from the fact that it tells a touching story of friendship, it is more reality than fantasy.
David Lowery’s remake of the 1977 musical is a nice respite from the serious films we’ve had lately. Although clearly made for kids, Disney’s latest flick somehow gives me the feeling that it’s trying to change the usual formula for children’s movies because while it’s obvious that the friendship between a child and a dragon serves as the hook, “Pete’s Dragon” tackles a more mature theme.
And that’s a nice change of pace, if it is indeed the case.
I liked how the film’s main focus isn’t on the dragon. Most kid-oriented films with mythical creatures in the story would heavily bank on that but not this one. It’s like they made the movie trying to show us that seeing a dragon on a normal day is not unconventional. It didn’t say:
“Look, here’s a dragon! Isn’t it amazing? See the awesome things it can do.”
“Hey, dragons are real! They’re magical and should be your friend.”
Instead, they focused on Elliot as a loyal and caring friend. They even portrayed him as a playful and curious kid.
“Pete’s Dragon” isn’t about the existence of dragons. It is about the true meaning of family and friendship and the things we’re willing to accept and give up for those (people or not) we consider family.
And I think that is why there’s not much brouhaha about the inclusion of a dragon in the story. The filmmakers wanted us to see the message and not the furry, green creature.
Fegley (who reminded so much of Natalie Dormer) is an awesome Pete. His eyes show innocence, curiosity, and courage the same way Howard says a lot with just her facial expressions.
Laurence is also fun to watch. Her confidence perfectly compliments Fegley’s character’s uncertainty about the world he’s been thrust into. Together, they make a (believable) formidable team that can save Elliot’s life.
Redford gives off the cool grandfather vibes really well. Urban, as much as I liked him in Star Trek, was overly annoying in this film. He’s perfectly embodies the types of people who result to violence when faced with things they do not know.
I only realized now that I was seething the entire time because I blame Gavin for all the troubles. His ego (his intense desire to put himself on the map) and impulsiveness has endangered the lives of Elliot and Pete who just want to be left alone and live in peace.
Disney has done right with “Pete’s Dragon.” It’s a compelling movie that will move you to question how you react towards situations and things that are out of your usual routine.
Will you let the unknown scare you to the point that you’ll resort to violence?
Gavin and the others were scared of Elliot, who only wanted to protect his home. They captured him without no clear plans of what to do once they have him and made an even bigger problem as a result of his actions.
Will you believe only the things you see?
Grace missed out on a lot because she refused to believe what her father has been telling her. She missed out on the “magic” because of her linear view of the world, which, most of the time, will limit our happiness.
Will you stand up for your friends regardless of their appearance?
Pete stuck with Elliot no matter what. All he wants is for his friend to stay safe. Although he enjoyed being with his new family, he will always put Elliot’s safety first, which is why he’s willing to leave them all behind.
Are you willing to sacrifice your needs for those you love?
When Pete and Elliot were finally reunited in the forest, they discovered they can’t stay in their home because people know about it already. Elliot comes up with a solution: hide by camouflaging. It’s effective until Pete raised one important point: he can’t disappear.
Pete’s face, when the realization hit him, and Elliot’s soft grunts created a lump in my throat. I almost lost it when they hugged and bid each other goodbye.
(I still get a little emotional thinking back to that scene.)
Let me just say, Fegley is an amazing actor.
This is probably the most compelling Disney movie for me (I can’t say my favorite because it will always be Aladdin) because it works on so many levels. It’s more reality than fantasy.
I enjoyed how it didn’t rely too much on CGI or action sequences to hook the audience. It’s the story and the dynamics between the characters. And for someone who likes stories, it makes the entire 102 minutes so worth my time.
Photos courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures