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Pete’s Dragon, Blu-ray (2016)

A wonderful Disney live-action story similar to some ways to their Jungle Book.

Pete’s Dragon, Blu-ray (2016)

Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban
Director: David Lowery
Studio: Walt Disney Studios (11/29/16)
Video: 2.39:1 for 16:9 screens, HD Technicolor
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Dubbed: French, Spanish
Extras: “A Director’s Diary;” “Making Magic” designing the dragon in cgi; “Disappearing Moments” a montage of the film’s deleted scenes; Audio commentary with director David Lowery, co-writer Toby Halrooks, actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence; Music Videos: “Nobody Knows,” “Something Wild;” Bloopers, Previews, DVD & digital HD versions
Length: 103 min.
Rating: ****1/2

When a mysterious 10-year-old boy, Pete, turns up claiming to live in the woods with a giant green dragon, it’s up to a forest ranger, Grace, and young Natalie to learn where the boy came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this magical dragon. The dragon is not fierce except against true enemies, and raises the little boy in the woods for six years until young Natalie finds him. The dragon can also make himself invisible, which is probably why nobody has seen him except grandpa (played by Redford) years ago. (Not to be confused with the 1970s Disney live-action film with the same name.)

Pete as a youngster is threatened by some wolves when Elliot the dragon saves him and brings him up. The boy names the dragon Elliot after a child’s book he was reading in the car when his parents were killed in an auto accident. Some time is devoted to Pete’s return to the civilized world and his missing Elliot. The confrontations of the wild child to many of the things of civilized life are understandable. The dragon even comes to the house and looks in the window at Pete and the family.

Some real action involves the brother of Natalie’s father trying to shoot and then tranquilize Elliot. But with the help of Redford and the family, he is saved and the magical dragon flies off to another area, and is seen at the end to have offspring in the air.

The extras are all worth viewing. The actors had to fake their very believable reactions to Elliot when during original shooting they were merely facing a green balloon on a pole or some similar stand-in. The whole thing was shot in New Zealand because it was felt the woods and surroundings were a bit larger than life (Peter Jackson probably had the same idea for Lord of the Rings). It’s also available in 3D.

—John Sunier

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