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Pete's Dragon
High-Flying Edition

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 129 Minutes

Starring: Helen Reddy, Jim Dale, Mickey Rooney, Red Buyttons, Shelley Winters, Jane Kean

Screenplay by: Malcolm Marmorstein
Based on a story by: Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field

Directed by: Don Chaffey

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Brazzle-Dazzle Effects: Behind Disney's Movie Magic, Deleted Storyboard Sequence, Original Song Concept, Original Demo Recordings, Promotional Record, Where's Elliott? Game, Art Galleries, Trailers, About Pete's Dragon, Disney's Family Album (excerpt), The Plausible Impossible (excerpt), Lighthouse Keeping 

Specs: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Scene Selection (24 Scenes)

Released: August 18th, 2009

 

 

"Pete's Dragon" is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. It's a decent transfer, if overly grainy. Blemishes and dirt pieces are also a fixture, plus noise and edge halos. Shimmering is also apparent at times. The transfer is a bit murky at times, especially in the more darkly-lit scenes, but actually looks pretty good when the action takes place in broad daylight. Detail is pretty good, as are fleshtones. Color saturation is a mixed bag. Sometimes color saturation is pretty passable, other times during the movie colors look washy and drained out. Elliott himself looks okay, but I wish he appeared a bit sharper. Overall, the movie is watchable, but I wish it was given a bit more care and attention. 

 

"Pete's Dragon" is also presented in a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 track. As you'd expect, this is really just the original mono track (which is not included) mixed across the channels. The track not only sounds stiff and artificual most of the time, but also pretty low and muted. There are surrounds, but they're merely extracted and placed in the rears. That, of course, makes them sound a bit unnatural and forced — almost as if you're on a cheesy ride at a low-rent amusement park. The music sounds okay through the channels, and the dialogue is clear and easy to hear. Subwoofer use does not impress, though. Still, there are no audio defects, and everything is audible. However, nothing about this 5.1 mix really captures the listener. But for something based off the original mono track, it's often pretty hard to do that.

English subtitles are also included.

 





A definite upgrade over the old version of the movie on DVD, this re-release should satisfy the "Pete's Dragon" completist. First up is Brazzle Dazzle Effects: Behind Disney's Movie Magic. Narrated by Pete himself, Sean Marshall, this piece gives an excellent history of how Disney studios perfected mixing animation and live-action for their feature films through the decades. Plenty of behind-the-scenes footage from "Pete's Dragon" is used, and the latter portion of this short documentary dedicates itself to the film's production techniques. Before though, there are a variety of vintage stills and clips to educate and give history: newsreels, interviews with Walt Disney himself and much much more. The history of the Alice shorts are covered, as are techniques used in "Song Of The South" and other Disney movies, all of which would help set the stage for how "Pete's Dragon" would be made. This is technical but always understandable, and really quite interesting. Worth a watch for any kind of Disney fan.

There's an Deleted Storyboard Sequence entitled "Terminus & Hoagy Hunt Elliott," plus an Original Song Concept set to storyboards called "Boo Bop Bopbop Bop (I Love You, Too)." There are also Original Demo Recordings for the songs "Brazzle Dazzle Day" (an alternate version), "Every Little Piece" (with an alternate melody) and "The Greatest Star Of All" (a deleted song for a deleted character). The Promotional Record section features "pop" versions of songs on the movie, originally released on 7" vinyl. The Songs are "It's Not Easy," "Brazzle Dazzle Day," "There's Room For Everyone" and "Candle On The Water."

For the younger fans there's the set-top game Where's Elliott? An extensive Art Gallery is included, divided up by concept art, behind the scenes and publicity. Two Trailers are included too (though the international one really plays more like one for home video). About Pete's Dragon is five stills worth of trivia.

Rounding the disc out are excerpts from Disney's Family Album and The Plausible Impossible from 1956, with content related either directly to the movie or thematically. The short Lighthouse Keeping featuring Donald Duck also proves to be relevant.
 
 

"Pete's Dragon" is not exactly considered a classic, but it has its fans and has a place in Disney history for its special effects. The film itself makes for some decent (if overly long) family entertainment. In any case, the movie now has proper DVD treatment. Though the anamorphic transfer and 5.1 mix don't exactly impress, the good array of extras should have Disney fans consider this as a purchase.