Mystery, awe and an enormous mythological beast define the first teaser for Pete’s Dragon, one of the summer’s most curious blockbusters. A big-budget remake of every stoner’s favorite movie Disney musical, Pete’s Dragon is virtually unrecognizable from the cartoonish 1977 original, which dropped an animated lizard into a live-action cast to tell an upbeat story about the friendship between a young orphan and an invisible flying monster. Updating these beloved characters for today’s audiences, this new version shifts the action from the early 20th century to the Seventies, ditches the songs and replaces the hand-drawn dragon with a CGI creation large enough to snap redwoods like twigs.
Directed by indie maverick David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), and drenched in the wide-eyed wonder that characterized the classic Amblin movies of his youth, the teaser reintroduces Pete (Oakes Fegley) as a feral six-year-old who’s spent his whole life in the woods.
The long-haired kid runs the place like an American Mowgli, scaling trees and scampering through the dirt without a care in the world. When Pete is finally discovered by forest ranger Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard), she can’t believe that the boy has managed to stay alive. “You don’t survive in a forest for six years alone,” her father (Robert Redford) declares. “He says he wasn’t alone,” Grace replies.
Judging from the incredible growls rolling through the forest, it seems like Pete is probably telling the truth, and the snippets of car chases and pile-ups we see next suggest that the authorities are going to learn that the hard way. It all builds to the briefest of looks at the boy’s best friend, as the teaser’s soaring final shots promise a more epic adventure than fans of the original might have expected.
Pete’s Dragon also stars Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, and Oona Laurence. The film lands in theaters on August 12th.