The original Pete's Dragon (1977) is one of my all-time favorite Disney films. When I heard a remake was in process, I couldn't wait to see it. Unfortunately, the people behind the new film had no idea what made the original so special. Rather than creating a new version of a beloved film, they ended up with something completely unconnected to the original.
Five-year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is on a road trip with his parents when, in an effort to avoid a deer, they crash the car. His parents are instantly killed and wolves force Pete into the woods where he is rescued by a dragon he names Elliot. Years later, Pete investigates an area of the forest being torn down. He is seen by Natalie (Oona Laurence), the daughter of Jack (Wes Bentley), who is the owner of the local lumber mill. She chases Pete up into a tree. When she subsequently falls, her screams cause Jack and his fiancé Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), a forest ranger, to locate her.
They also discover Pete, who runs, resulting in head injury and a trip to the hospital. While there, Grace figures out that he is the missing boy from the car accident of years before and takes him home with her. One of the lumberjacks, Gavin (Karl Urban), learns about Elliot and takes a crew to hunt him for his own benefit. The resulting events cause a battle between all involved to save Elliot and help Pete.
The Combo Pack offers the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and a Digital Download code. The video has been presented in 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Earth tones stand out. Detail is impressive, as seen in the fine hairs on Elliot. The audio comes in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. Action scenes are robust and ambient sounds can be heard in the rears.
There are a few bonus features offered with the Blu-ray release. "Note to Self: A Director's Diary" is a look at the making of the film through David Lowery's personal diary. "Making Magic" focuses on the design of Elliot. There are also deleted scenes, bloopers, and and audio commentary with Lowery, co-writer Toby Halbrooks, and actors Fegley and Laurence. Lastly, are music videos for "Nobody Knows" by the Lumineers and "Something Wild" by Lindsey Stirling.
Pete's Dragon is a fine film if you simply change the name. It has no connection to the original aside from having an orphan named Pete and a dragon named Elliot. The original film was a musical featuring an adorable, animated dragon. It was comedic and lighthearted. It was able to create a real connection to the characters and their story. The new film is very dark, not only in terms of the story but the picture itself as well. At times, when in the woods, it was so dark I couldn't see the action that was happening. The new live-action Jungle Book did everything right that the makers of this film could have learned from. It has a couple of key musical numbers and recreated characters in such a successful way that drew on existing emotions. I didn't care about any of the characters in this Pete's Dragon and wasn't rooting for any of them. Additionally, I don't understand why Robert Redford is in it. He plays a small role that offers little.
For fans of the original, I would recommend ignoring the title and viewing it as a completely new movie featuring a dragon. It will then make you want to immediately watch the first one.