I’m sad to admit that while I’m one of the biggest Disney fans around, I’ve never seen the 1977 original of Pete’s Dragon. It was one of those films that I thought I would eventually get around to viewing, but it just never seemed to happen. So here we are decades later with a fun and well crafted reboot in Pete’s Dragon on Blu-ray. Featuring a good cast, great special effects, and plenty of emotional drama and adventure, it’s a good time for the family that holds up to the Disney standard.
The story follows a young boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley) who sadly loses his parents in a car accident in 1977 while traveling near a forest area. While wandering through the woods, he is found and taken in by a dragon that Pete names Elliot (voiced by John Kassir of Tales from the Crypt fame), and the two live together in the forest. Six years later, businesses begin to encroach on the woods and park where they live, and the two are spotted by a young girl named Natalie (Oona Laurence) who also happens to be the daughter of the park ranger named Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard). This causes the nearby town to go on a hunt for the dragon, which brings Pete to seek out help from Grace and Natalie to stop it, all while doing his best to relearn living with people and living a normal life.
I had a surprising good time watching Pete’s Dragon, as it did a great job bringing about the sense of wonder and excitement of being a kid while also having a magical element in the form of Elliot that keeps you glued to the screen on what’s going to happen next. I also loved how Elliot is viewed as a monster by the town, and yet he’s always careful not to break or crush things around him, and acts like a silent protector of sorts even when people are trying to hurt him. Most movies would have a giant creature like this lose control and turn into a wild goose chase to “hunt down the monster so it can be kind again” scenario, so to see the complete opposite is always a nice change of pace. The high definition of Blu-ray makes this treat of a film stand out even more, as the special effects really shine through here, especially every strand of fur on Elliot. The audio side is just as amazing, as every bass-filled boom and piece of dialogue and music score come through without a hitch.
There’s also some dragon-sized special features to take a look at once the adventure comes to a close. Audio Commentary with director David Lowery, co-writer Toby Halbrooks and actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence kick things off as they share how the film came to be, how it was working on it and more. “Notes to Self: A Director’s Diary” has David Lowery take viewers through his personal diary he kept during filming that gives an inside look into his mindset, vision, and thoughts while working on the movie, “Disappearing Moments” goes into the “lost” scenes of the film, and “Welcome to New Zealand” takes viewers on a trip to explore the wonders there and why so many people use it as the perfect fantasy setting for films. There’s also a few music videos and some funny bloopers to round out the extras.
If you’re looking for something fun, exciting and touching to watch with your family, you can’t go wrong with Pete’s Dragon. A great and emotional journey backed up by a good cast, great special effects, and some nice extras make this a dragon you’ll want to take flight with and add to your collection.