I heard this was going to be good, but I had no idea it would be THIS good. As far as I’m concerned, this film will be a classic one day.
It centers around young Pete, who lost his parents in a car crash in the first five minutes. He runs away, only to be found by Elliot the giant dragon, who takes him in. Years later, due to a construction project, humanity stumbles upon Pete in the forest (Bryce Dallas Howard and Wes Bentley, Jurassic World and The Hunger Games), and certain humans are genuinely determined to capture Pete’s mythical friend. The chief antagonist, played by Karl Urban of Star Trek, is almost a replica of the horrid Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
There is a timeless feel to this movie, a deliberate aesthetic and narrative that makes it belong not to one period, but really to any of them. Mountains and fleece abound, as do cars and tech we now consider old. It’s a film that’s like all the good ones before it, having borrowed from their beats while still being its own magnificent creation. Throughout, you sit back and realize they’re trying all the old ways to make you cry—swelling score and emotional reunions, among others—and then you realize you’ve already been crying for five minutes. Director David Lowery knows precisely how and when to pull your heartstrings. That is the sign of a master storyteller.
It’s not a flawless motion picture—I would have preferred to know the start of the third act when it started, instead of knowing afterwards—but dadgone, it speaks every language of my heart and soul. You wait for moments to come, and they do. I had to wait to leave the theater because I had cried too many happy tears.
It’s the planet’s longest, most abstracted Jeep ad campaign, what with its color palette and mountain setting, but I’m not complaining. It almost seemed like it should be narrated by Donald Sutherland. If it were an ad one day, let’s just say this film would make you want to buy a million Jeeps.
Pete’s Dragon is in theaters now. Just see it.