Itís a tragic beginning followed by a heartwarming story.
Little boy in the car with his parents on vacation.
Heís reading from his favorite book to them, about Elliott going
on an adventure. Suddenly the
whole world changes. Dad
swerves to avoid a deer crossing the road, the car crashes, and the little
boy, Pete, is thrown from the wreckage, remarkably unscathed---but his
parents didnít make it. As Pete (Oakes Fegley) runs into the woods,
crying, clutching his favorite book in his hand, the wolves literally
begin to circle. And thatís
when the friendly dragon appears, runs off the wolves, and befriends the
little boy, who doesnít know enough to be scared.
Fast forward six years. The
boy has lived like Tarzan in the jungle, even building himself a treehouse,
complete with a convenient dugout underneath it, where he and the Dragon,
whom Pete has named Elliott, live happily together.
They fly above the forest, they play hide and seek.
(The Dragon has a decided advantage; he can make himself
invisible.) Pete doesnít
really realize thereís something missing from his life, until he spots
the first human he has seen in six years---turns out to be a Forest
Ranger, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard). At
first, the contact is fleeting and awkward, but eventually, Peteís
curiosity overcomes his shyness, especially when Graceís daughter,
Natalie (Oona Laurence) easily befriends him.
Thereís a subplot here of developers clearing the forest, which
encroaches on the idyllic habitat of Pete and Elliott.
Even while Pete is drawn to Grace and her welcoming family, Elliott
seeks to protect Pete from the clutches of the outsiders, until heís
captured with knockout darts. Now
weíre rooting for Pete to not only free his dragon, but also to arrange
a happily ever after that would somehow include a human family, which the
perceptive Elliott also realizes is important.
Itís a sweet story, though a bit unnecessarily complicated.
The animation is first-rate, and the veteran child actors are good
enough to carry it, despite the sort of tepid presence of most of the
adults. This oneís for the