RosieMeter: 30% Wilted
Runtime: 1 hr. 35 mins.
There are no extra scenes after the end credits.
If you have fond memories of the original Pete’s Dragon from 1977 and are wary of seeing the remake, don’t worry. Both films are great on their own, but very different. The new Elliot, created by the special effects master, Eric Saindon, who created the dragons for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films, is a giant furry dragon who’s both sweet as a puppy and intimidating when he wants to be.
There’s no singing in the new version, and instead of setting the film in Passamaquoddy, an Eastern seaside town with a lighthouse, the new film is set in 1980s Pacific Northwest. The fictional town of Millhaven is dealing with a de-forestation crisis that is threatening to destroy the land where both Pete and Elliot live.
The reboot trades in the psychedelic camp of the 70s film for a strong message about the environment. Elliot becomes a metaphor for humanity’s relationship with nature – suggesting we protect the earth before it’s too late.
I like this message and I suspect kids will, too. But I do miss the silly, prankster reptile with his pink and green scales. Today’s kids have grown up on CGI and Pixar and would most likely scoff a the Elliot of yesteryear, however.
I do have to give the filmmakers credit for adding the character of Natalie (Oona Laurence), a young girl who befriends Pete (Oaks Fegley), and becomes an important ally to both Pete and Elliot. This attempt at on-screen gender parity is what I hope we see more of in upcoming remakes.
Both the protagonist and the antagonist are male, but this is Pete’s story, so there’s no surprise there. 0 pts.
The writers/director are all male, but there is a female editor, Lisa Zeno Churgin: 2 pts.
The film does tell the story of two females with their own arcs, Natalie and Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who serves as Pete’s protector: 8 pts.
Quality of filmmaking: 10 pts.
Does not pass the Bechdel/Wallace test: 0 pts.
Wildcard: I’ve added 10 points to reflect the fact that the filmmakers added a new female character, Natalie, in an attempt to create more gender parity on-screen: 10 pts.