Having only seen the trailer and quite unsure what to expect, my sister and I went to watch Pete’s Dragon last week. And now that I’ve recovered from the full spectrum of emotions I experienced while watching it – anguish to indignation to sheer delight, I dare say it is one of Disney’s bests. It is a film filled with the magic and wonder we have come to love Disney classics for.
Peter Jackson’s Weta does a stellar job bringing the dragon to life. He is 21 feet tall, green and fuzzy with floppy ears. We meet him as he steps into protect young Pete who finds himself having to fend for himself in the forest. He is promptly named Elliot and we discover he is sweet, clever and immensely loyal, not unlike a giant puppy – with wings. They form a boy-and-his-dog type bond and their friendship becomes the place where Pete finds adventure and belonging.
When they are discovered six years later by Grace, a passionate forest ranger, we journey with Pete (and Elliot) as he is suddenly thrust back into civilisation by well-meaning humans. It is quite the conflicting experience watching Pete bond with Grace, away from his best friend, Elliot, and figure out that there is now more than one place where he feels at home. You’re rooting for the safe haven Pete and Elliot have created together and at the same time acutely aware of his need for human community too.
If you’re looking, there are little giveaways that reveal the movie was filmed right here in New Zealand. A Foursquare, our native grass – it was endearing and made me feel pretty proud, really. The orchestral score is rich and has your imagination soaring in the world David Lowery has lovingly created (in fact, I’m listening to it as I type right now).
This adventure movie is a special one – fantastic for kids and parents alike. Definitely go watch it.