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‘Pete’s Dragon’ Critical Roundup: Reviewers Agree That The Remake Revives Disney’s Magic

The critics also applaud director David Lowery's take on the film.

Pete's Dragon

“Pete’s Dragon” is a cherished Disney story that follows the adventures of an orphaned boy (Oakes Fegley) and his best friend Elliott, who happens to be a dragon. Also starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban and Robert Redford, the fantasy film is directed by David Lowery and promises to take the whole family on an epic adventure. Here’s what the critics are saying about the film so far. 

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich gave the film a B+, calling it “an old Disney musical [that] becomes a new Disney classic.” He praises Lowery’s indie spirit by writing that it’s the summer’s best remake. “There may be individual shots in this movie that cost more than the director’s entire pre-existing output, but make no mistake: This is a David Lowery movie,” he writes. “A movie imbued with the same tactile nature and uniquely American flair for myth-making that characterized his Sundance breakthrough, ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.’”

READ MORE: ‘Pete’s Dragon’ Review: An Old Disney Musical Becomes A New Disney Classic

Peter Dubruge of Variety was a fan of the feature writing that “the result is one of the year’s most delightful moviegoing surprises, a quality family film that rewards young people’s imaginations and reminds us of a time when the term ‘Disney movie’ meant something: namely, wholesome entertainment that inspired confidence in parents and reinforced solid American values.”

The Wrap’s Russ Fischer also gave the fantasy pic positive feedback. “David Lowery‘s ease with actors and command of tone make ‘Pete’s Dragon’ one of the best remakes in recent years.” Adding, “Fegley’s work deserves specific praise. The young actor is often acting opposite Elliot, who in addition to being non-existent in a practical sense, is also primarily non-verbal. Fegley is convincingly at home.”

READ MORE: How Indie Filmmaker David Lowery Embraced ‘Pete’s Dragon’ at Disney

“It’s a vastly superior film to the fondly remembered but badly dated original – a cloying, sentimental fusion of live action and animation that fails to do for fantastical reptiles what Mary Poppins did for professional childcare,” writes The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin, who gave it four stars out of five stars. “It’s contemplative and tender, twisting freely as folklore, and warming as a log fire at your feet.”

On the more negative side is The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Rechtshaffen whose bottom line was, “a dismayingly dull reboot of the 1977 Disney film.” Calling it a “sluggish reconceptualization,” the critic writes that the movie fell short, “lacks any element of surprise” and has “haphazard plotting and seriously undernourished character development.”

“Pete’s Dragon” flies into theaters on August 12.

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