Pete’s Dragon

Rated 4.0

The Disney film brand has been mired in an existential identity crisis of late, obsessed with sequels and remakes but fixated on re-examining traditional roles and institutional values. All that self-conscious rebranding leaves little room for old-fashioned Disney magic, and up until this year, the studio’s spate of live-action remakes of animated chestnuts has proved a dry well of pixie dust. That’s why it’s almost shocking that director and co-writer David Lowery’s genuinely magical Pete’s Dragon carries the Disney label. There is such a purity of vision to this thing, such a warm storybook vibe and such a scarcity of the usual family entertainment pitfalls that it feels like the film was made in secret. There was little in Lowery’s previous work (he edited Upstream Color, produced Listen Up Philip and directed Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) to suggest he could summon the Disney magic, but Pete’s Dragon is his proof.