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Review: Pete’s Dragon out on DVD and Blu-ray

Among the numerous entertainment marvels that Walt Disney has produced, what stays common is the underlying depth of the story. The magnificent use of lights and colors has definitely helped create a massive audience for Disney movies. However, what creates an indelible mark on the viewers is the soul that a movie carries in its narrative. Another such attempt was made by Walt Disney films, in the movie “Pete’s Dragon’. Now out on DVD and Blu-Ray by Sony DADC, we decided to check it out for you!

The Story

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The movie Pete’s Dragon released worldwide in 2016. It has touted to convey meaningful messages through a fairy-tale. The movie has been directed by David Lowery, who is also one of the authors of the book, Pete’s Dragon: Elliot Gets Lost. The book has been an integral pivot to the story narrated in the movie. The movie also shares its title with another Disney musical film that was directed by Don Chaffey and was released in 1977. Despite the claims that the 2016 flick is a remake of the one released in 1977, there is a stark difference in the plot of the two. Moreover, the discrepancies in the stories might even establish that the David Lowery movie is no sequel to the 1977 Disney musical.

The story opens with a small boy, Pete going on an adventure amongst the woods, with his parents. While he is reading a book titled ‘Elliot Gets Lost’ and is talking to his parents, they meet with an accident. The accident ends up being fatal for Pete’s parents. However, Pete is lucky and survives the accident. He lands up in a dense forest and is now deemed to survive there. He is shown befriending a large green-furred dragon that is spoken about in the local tales. The story also entails an old wood carver, Meacham (Robert Redford) who narrates tales about a ‘Millhaven dragon’ residing in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. His daughter Grace, a forest protector of sorts denies those tales and wants to protect the forest from extensive deforestation.

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6 years after Pete ends up in the forest, he is seen well-settled in his forest life. However, he is intrigued by the little nuances of human civilization. The two stories mentioned above, meet when Grace’s fiancé and his lumberjack brother intend to go deeper into the forest with their plans to cut trees down for timber. Grace’s fiancé has a daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence) who happens to notice Pete in the forest. She observes that he has taken to the ways of the wild and has adapted to find shelter there. Little does she know that Pete has a companion in a 70-feet high green-coloured dragon!

Pete calls his dragon friend Elliot and stays with him in a tree cave in the middle of the woods. It is not long before everyone learns about a boy residing in the woods. Pete is brought home by Grace who intends to take care of him. She learns that Pete had been orphaned in a car accident. While Pete is staying with Grace, Natalie, and her father, he speaks of his friend Elliot. Meanwhile, the lumberjack Gavin develops a new interest besides collecting timber. He carries a suspicion about a dragon residing in the forest and wants to hunt it down.

The story then reaches a point wherein Meacham, Grace, Natalie, and Pete have come to meet Elliot. They are joined by Gavin and his gang who want to capture Elliot. Elliot is captured and tied down to a truck in a garage, despite several attempts to free him off. What follows is Pete, Natalie, Grace and Meacham wanting to save Elliot. Elliot seems to have multiple abilities, some of them being the power to disappear and fly. The good intentions of a few people end up freeing Elliot off. Pete joins Grace and her fiancé to complete their family. The movie ends in a jovial scene where Elliot is seen flying in the sky with multiple other dragons and Pete running along with them.

The movie beyond its plot

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The story is well-drafted in the way that it conveys a serious message about over-exploitation of the environment by humans. It serves a purpose of educating the masses about the environmental issues. Elliot might not have caused damage to the city by spewing fire onto a bridge if the humans would not have attempted to seize him.

What really impresses me about the movie is the use of technology. The adventures of the orphaned boy Pete would not have been appealing enough had it been for shabby Computer Graphics. Weta Digital did a commendable job with the visual effects and Computer Graphics imagery. It might have been challenging to design the wings of the dragon and simulate the movement of its fur, without making it look scruffy. However, they did a good job with technology to create a green, furry, intelligent and sensitive large dragon. Elliot definitely, looks like an entertaining character.

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The performances played an integral role in rooting for the movie. Pete’s Dragon is not as big a blockbuster as other recent Disney films like Cinderella or The Jungle Book. Disney has surely proven that it has the ability to reinvent its classics with a little tweak and improvement. However, Pete’s Dragon had the advantage that it is not an age-old classic with an unalterable story. This gave Disney some room to play around with the plot. The performances were well-toned and sketched. Although a few traits in the character sketches are fuzzy, a viewer might tend to not pay attention to those details owing to the other highlights of the sketch. For instance, Grace’s aching desire to be a certain kind of a mother is a little vague. This is however covered up by her compassion for the boy and the dragon, who she wants to genuinely protect.

The soundtrack of Pete’s dragon is a clear winner for me. Disney has played cleverly by amalgamating its old-school tunes with a modern twist. The Dragon Song by Will Oldham, Something on your Mind by St. Vincent and Nobody Knows by The Lumineers is my favorite tracks in the movie. The songs are well placed and hence, work well with the plot.

Pete’s Dragon now out on Sony DVD

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Having said about the movie, it is important to note that it is now out on DVD by Sony DADC. The movie is categorized under the genre adventure or family and is approximately 102 minutes long. The technical specifications are as follows:

  • Widescreen: 16X9 2.39:1
  • Languages:
    1. Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Portuguese 5.1, Romanian 5.1, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1
    2. Audio Descriptive Service: English 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish (Castilian)

The DVD also includes sneak peeks into 2 other Disney classics: Ratatouille(2007) and Beauty and the Beast (2017).