A little while ago, I reviewed the teaser trailer for this movie, and my initial impression was that it looked too dark and muted. Thankfully, the newer trailers make the movie seem much brighter and more in line with the original in terms of tone. Unfortunately, something about the remake still seems a little off to me, and I finally realized what it is: the dragon is a total dick in this version.
In the original Pete’s Dragon, the dragon, Elliot, befriends children who need help. As such, Elliot spends the movie helping Pete escape from the abusive Gogan family and finding a new family that will love him. Once that is done, Elliot flies off to help another child in need. If the same benevolent attitude is true for the newer Elliot—helping children who need help—then he is not doing a very good job this time around.
Our 2016 Pete has been living out in the woods for the past six years with only Elliot to take care of him. While helping Pete survive is certainly benevolent, I now find myself questioning why Elliot didn’t fly Pete back to civilization so he could go on helping more children who need it. Maybe there will be an explanation for it in the film, but right now, I’m drawing a blank when thinking of reasons.
In the original movie, the only time we see Pete and Elliot hanging out in the woods is when they’re hiding from the Gogans after Pete first runs away. Immediately afterward, they head right into town so Pete can find someone to take care of him. The newer Elliot, on the other hand, just keeps living with Pete in the woods, denying him the right to interact with other humans, access to some probably much needed healthcare, education, shelter, clothes, and so on. We even see that when Pete first comes across Grace, he’s scared of her. That’s not benevolent behavior—that’s selfish and damaging.
Compared to other Disney remake movies, I’ll give the 2016 version of Pete’s Dragon props for being original, but if I’m finding this many problems with it from the trailers alone, I’m not sure how enjoyable I’ll find the rest of the movie.