petesdragon2016bluray

With Disney’s success turning their legendary live action properties into big box office live action remakes, it’s easy to see how that trend will continue with upcoming films like Beauty and the Beast. After the triumphant arrivals of films such as Maleficent, the Mouse House can broaden their spectrum of what films from their archives that they can revisit. They found a perfect one in the cherished family film, Pete’s Dragon… out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.

When Pete’s Dragon was released this past summer, it was a combination of live action and animation that seemed remarkable for its time. With the advancements in CG animation and it synching with live action, the timing seemed perfect to tackle the Pete’s Dragon story and have a what appears to be real, fire-breathing dragon made completely on a computer that would be so adorable and lovable that audiences would want to break through that fourth wall and give the big beast a huge hug. That is exactly the case with the titular creature in Disney’s latest home video release of the film.

Director David Lowery has triumphed in this tale that combines thrills, chills, heart-wrenching moments and heart-soaring scenes that all add up to one incredible cinematic experience for film fans of all ages. That’s right, this is not simply a film for the youngest of Disney fans, it is for everyone who has ever adored a Mouse House film, or any movie for that matter! It is simply glorious.

Pete’s Dragon follows an orphaned boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley), who is left alone in the forest with no where to turn and no resources or mature ability to support himself. A dragon comes upon him, named Elliot, and befriends him and the two embark on a journey of mutual love and respect that will warm the hearts of even the most cynical of movie fans.

As long as Elliot stays hidden in the American northwest forest, he and Pete will live a life of quiet and blissful solitude. But, Pete is starting to grow up. He’s actually about eight years old when he stumbles on his first set of humans. They’re an interesting contrast, loggers seeking to strip the forest of its natural riches (led by Star Trek star Karl Urban) and park rangers (led by Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford), who seek to keep this natural beauty beauteous.

The Pete’s Dragon home video release is chock full of bonus features that include never-before-seen moments from the movie and the making of the film, as well as an intimate look at the creation of this magical movie from director Lowery’s personal diary that he kept chronicling the making of Disney’s latest masterpiece.

We have to start our salute of the bonus features with “Making Magic.” This bonus feature takes a nice long look at how filmmakers went through a tireless effort to craft a dragon that would be induce fear in those who seek to destroy or capture him, and also give off affable feelings for those who cherish his existence. It is a fascinating look at how the magicians that are the Disney creative team come together to craft a character that exists solely on a hard drive of a computer.

Given that film (lately, at least) is such a true director’s medium, “Notes to Self: A Director’s Diary” is a educational and entertaining look at Lowery’s personal experience making this film as he narrates his personal diary he kept through the filming of Pete’s Dragon. It’s a rare look into the movie making process that audiences rarely get to see.

Staying with Lowery in the bonus features, you don’t want to miss his sharing of a montage of “lost” scenes (or deleted scenes, if you will) that for fans of the film, will be a priceless and deeper look at this sublime film. “Disappearing” Moments simultaneously illustrates why the scenes were cut (for time, plot flow), but also allows appreciators of the film to get an insight into more of the film’s character development and other aspects of the story.

As anyone who lives or has visited the American northwest, the landscape of this film is impeccably captured. Would you believe that Pete’s Dragon was actually filmed in New Zealand?! Yup! And that locale is given the spotlight in an interesting bonus featurette “Welcome to New Zealand.” The country that gave us all the locales of the Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit films also appears to lend itself to substituting itself for the American northwest as well. Who knew?!

If the personal diary kept by Lowery whets your whistle, then you will definitely want to watch Pete’s Dragon a second time with the Audio Commentary turned on. Lowery is joined by co-writer Toby Halbrooks and actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence for a play-by-play narration of the making of the movie that is sure to become a classic in its own right.

Film Grade: A

Bonus Features: A