Pete’s Dragon review: ‘simple, unoriginal and really quite boring’

A re-imagining of Disney's cherished family film, PETE'S DRAGON is the story of Pete and his best fr

A re-imagining of Disney's cherished family film, PETE'S DRAGON is the story of Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just happens to be a dragon. Picture: Disney. - Credit: Archant

The revival of the 1977 film stars Oakes Fegly, Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford.

When there are no more old favourites for Disney to remake, reboot or sequelize, then the ones you’ve forgotten or never heard of will be dug up and sent off to walk the earth again.

After new instalments of Star Wars, Alice, Jungle Book, Avengers, and Finding Nemo in the last seven months, this sees them reach back into the darkest period of their history, the 70s/80s, when after Walt’s death they struggled to find a direction. Just to twist the knife, during these difficult years Spielberg made the ultimate Disney film, E.T.

1977’s Pete’s Dragon was a throwback to the era of big budget musicals, starring Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, Jim Dale and a cartoon dragon. This new version ditches all the songs and remakes E.T. but with a dash of Jungle Book.

Pete (Fegly) is our Mowgli, an orphan lost in a deep dark American forest for six years, befriended and protected by a giant, sometime invisible dragon. The dragon is green and furry and looks like an illustration from a Dr Seuss book.

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Pete’s Dragon is something we don’t see very much these days – a children’s film.

Today we are used to whiz bang family films with a little something for everybody but this is made with the slow and steady feel of a children’s book. Everything is carefully explained and no child is left behind.

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The cast adjust their acting styles accordingly, restricting themselves to only the most simple and basic emotions: Urban always looks evil, Bentley and Howard are always kindly and Redford is always the wise old spirit of the woodlands, at one with nature.

This is how children films, especially Disney children’s films, used to be in the old days – simple, unoriginal and largely very boring.

Will the uves of today enjoy it? My Sunday morning screening was in an auditorium equipped with state of the art reclining seats: whenever the little darlings weren’t going to the toilet, talking or eating, they were rocking back and forth so the whole row of chairs was like a roller coaster ride.

For a review of Suicide Squad (on Friday), and the Blu-ray release of A Kind of Loving visit

Rating: 2/5 stars

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