Friday, August 12, 2016

Disney's Pete's Dragon Opens Today (8/12) + Our Review - A Heartwarming Film for the Family!

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Photo Credit: Disney
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Disney's Pete's Dragon opens in theaters Friday, August 12th. Personally, I was a huge fan of this movie and story overall as a child, so I was excited to see how the story would be brought to the updated live action film. Disney's trend of live action films have been mostly successful. And this movie doesn't disappoint!!!

Unlike it's 1977 counterpart, this movie is set in the Pacific Northwest of the US and not Maine. Although filmed in New Zealand, it felt like Oregon to this former Oregonian. The story predominantly takes place in the woods where forest ranger/mom Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard) finds a young boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley) who has been living there for six years with a mysterious dragon named Elliott. With help from her wood-carver father (Robert Redford), whom actually had seen the dragon as a child, though no one believed him, and Natalie (Oona Laurence), the daughter of lumber mill owner Jack (Wes Bentley), Grace sets out to find out Pete's identity and the truth about Elliott. Of course once realized that the dragon is real, problems arise when hunter Gavin (Karl Urban), Jack's brother and Natalie's uncle, plans to capture Elliott. It isn't the singing cartoon/live-action like it's predecessor.

I wasn't sure how a non-speaking dragon would play on the big screen as a main role. But, Disney pulled it off...Elliott in CGI is able to portray so much emotion and character from facial expressions alone. I was able to follow along easily on how he felt, communicated with not just Pete, but also with all the other characters without saying a word...just grunting/sounds at times. It was amazing. It was very familiar to the emotion Disney captured in The BFG. The story itself is strong and the magic in the movie isn't just from Elliott. There is an endearing element that I found refreshing to the contrast of the super hero action films that I have been seeing with the kids. My son, Jude (11), felt that it was slow at times...I think he was expecting more dragon action and this isn't that film. Though, he fell in love with Elliott too and like me, wants his own dragon friend. Who can blame him? Elliott, is friendly, playful and has invisible powers. He has a strong attachment to Pete and a love for him that is truly endearing.

We reviewed Pete's Dragon in 3D and I am not sure it was necessary. There isn't any popping out amazing dragon scenes that would be worthy of the extra ticket price, in my opinion. I wish that there would have been, but that doesn't seem to be Disney's 3D style. With that being said, I am not sure if it was the glasses or just the projection, but my only criticism of Elliott was that he seemed to be a shade of really dark forest green and was hard to see at times. In parts his magic came to life and was more of a brighter "green" and I would have loved him to stand out like that more. So, when I take the other kids, I am going to pay closer attention.

The movie is rated PG. While, I think young ones 5+up would be fine seeing the film, there is a word of caution as the hunting loggers do have guns filled with tranquilizer darts and they are fired at Elliott. There is also a car accident that results in death, but it is quick and not filmed in detail. And lastly, Elliott does breathe this may seem a little scary. However, if your kids do well in non-animated films, you should be fine. It is a family friendly movie and worth seeing!!! It is in my top 5 of family films from 2016 so far!

~Reviewed by Jackie Landy~

We have some fun Pete's Dragon themed activities for the kiddos: 5 FREE printable Coloring PagesSpot the Difference, Puzzle, Memory Game, Maze, Door Hanger, Bookmarks, and Educational Activity Packet. Print them out and it will be a great accompanying activity for the kids.

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