Nostalgia is certainly the order of the day at Walt Disney Studios, with the film company determined to update some of the family favourites in the next few years. One classic to be given a contemporary makeover is 1977's 'Pete's Dragon', which has just arrived on screens.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Grace the forest ranger in 'Pete's Dragon'
The iconic Oscar nominated musical, which was a live action epic featuring an animated dragon, has returned; though this time without the sing-a-longs and with Elliott the dragon becoming a CGI masterpiece. Those who remember the original directed by Don Chaffey will know it as a story about an orphan on the run from his cruel adoptive parents, who is guided to the safety of a town in New England by this enormous fire-breathing creature with the power of invisibility. Elliott manages to wreak havoc on the town though, leaving Pete initially only welcomed by Nora and her father who live in a lighthouse.
The lead female character is a forest ranger named Grace who, like Nora, finds Pete initially in the woods in a bizarrely feral living situation and doesn't believe anything he says about his new friend.
Grace is played by Bryce Dallas Howard with Robert Redford as her father. Other characters include Jack, a mill owner in the town of Millhaven portrayed by Wes Bentley, and his brother Gavin, who is Karl Urban. The role of Pete, meanwhile, has been taken on by Oakes Fegley of 'Fort Bliss' and 'This Is Where I Leave You'. Pete also has a human friend named Natalie (Oona Laurence from 'Southpaw').
'It's one of my favourite childhood films', Bryce Dallas Howard told reporters at the D23 Expo last year. 'It was an incredible experience. We shot it in New Zealand and, honestly, it was really profound and brought me back to my own childhood getting to do this movie.'
'Pete's Dragon' is no doubt the sort of thing that's going to have everyone willingly return to their childhood, and happily share their fond memories with the children of this generation. 'That's why you really make movies', says Howard. 'Because you want to feel connected to others. I'm so proud to get to be in a film like this because it's something that's so wonderful for families and it's a great ride, but also it's a very emotional film, a really touching story and quite meaningful and important for kids. It's important for films like that to have that gravitas.'
The film has been directed by David Lowery, who did the award-winning 2013 romance 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck. He was also on hand in the screenwriting process with first-time feature-length screenwriter Toby Halbrooks. Oscar winning Barrie M. Osborne ('The Lord of the Rings') was also on board as a producer.
'Pete's Dragon' was released on August 12th 2016.
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