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Kevin Krock, editor
DVD Review
Pete's Dragon
(1977) | Approx. 129 Minutes | Rated G | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video
Goodies Interface
Value

The Movie...

I'm pretty sure that most of you have seen Pete's Dragon at one time or another. This touching and music-filled story features Pete, a young orphan, and his misadventures with his best friend Elliott, a mischievous but big-hearted dragon. The movie opens with Pete running away from the Gogan Gang, his backwoods adopted family, and escaping to a small fishing town named Passamaquoddy. Once there, a kind lighthouse keeper, Nora (Helen Reddy), and her father, Lampie (Mickey Rooney) take him in. Elliott proceeds to cause trouble in the town and turn the townsfolk against Pete. Matters worsen when a scheming traveling salesman, Dr. Terminus, comes into town and crosses paths with the town's resident dragon. It's then up to Pete, Nora and Lampie to thwart Dr. Terminus and his devious plan to rid the town of the dragon for his ultimate, lucrative gain.

I've always thoroughly enjoyed this movie when I have had the time to watch all two- plus hours of it. The story hangs together well, the casting is right on the mark, and it's packed with memorable songs. In fact, the soundtrack and the song "Candle on the Water" were nominated for the Academy Award™ back in 1977. While the film may be a little long for younger viewers more accustomed to movies that are 70 to 90 minutes long, this film has something for everyone. If you haven't seen it, make the time and give it a chance.

The Goodies...

The best thing about the DVD version of Pete's Dragon is the surprising amount of bonus material included on this gold collector's edition. There's the usual theatrical trailers, set-top game, and animated Disney short, but Disney took the extra step of including several other cool additions.

There's a neat excerpt from the old Disney TV show "The Plausible Impossible" hosted by Walt Disney, but it's only about three and a half minutes long. Disney has also included an excerpt from the "Disney Family Album" TV series with a focus on Ken Anderson, the animator for Elliott, but it, too, is only a little over two minutes long.

My favorite bonus item on the disc is the 25-minute "Man, Monsters and Mysteries" featurette. Produced by Disney in 1973, it focuses on us and our fascination with mysterious animals like the Loch Ness monster. It's a bit silly and dated at times, but it provides an interesting look at the people that look for the Loch Ness monster.

The Video, Audio and Interface...

Both the video and audio were remastered for this release, so it looks and sounds pretty good for a 25- year- old movie. For the most part, the video is sharp and detailed, with the colors nicely balanced throughout. Even dark scenes, like those in the ocean cave, are clear and detailed. Scratches and other film print imperfections are occasionally apparent, but they are very minor. To put it in perspective, you'll probably see more problems in a first-run film after a few weeks in a theater. Additionally, the anamorphic transfer ought to look especially nice on widescreen TVs. Overall, it's a surprisingly strong video transfer for a gold collector's edition DVD.

In any musical, the audio plays a critical role, and Disney did a great job in cleaning up the audio on this disc. It's presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and while much of the dialog remains in the center channel, the musical sections are wonderful to listen to. When the music kicks in, even on the most basic of audio systems, it fills the room, and on a full surround system, it should sound great.

The interface is simple to use, since there aren't very many menus, but they are all accented with musical selections from the movie. Additionally, the main menu has an animated Elliott examining the menu board and waving to the viewer, and all menu selections are punctuated by a sparkling effect similar to the way in which Elliott disappears. The animations are cute additions, and the music makes navigating the menus more pleasurable than last year's series of gold collector's editions, which lacked any animation or audio.

The Final Evaluation...

With great music, a good story, and a disc pretty full of goodies, this DVD is hard to pass up. If you enjoy this movie and have an old VHS copy, definitely put this disc one on your "video tape replacement" list. Just keep in mind that it's a fairly long movie, so the young ones may not be able to hang in there for the whole movie. Overall, this is a movie that the whole family should enjoy, so give it a spin.


Publicity art © Disney

DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Goodie list
  • Two theatrical trailers
  • "Where's Elliot?" game
  • Film Facts (text)
  • The Plausible Impossible excerpt
  • Disney Family Album excerpt w/ Ken Anderson
  • Man, Monsters & Mysteries featurette
  • Donald Duck animated short "Lighthouse Keeping"
  • Development art gallery
  • Behind-the-scenes art gallery
  • Advertising, PR, & merchandising art gallery

Technical Specifications

anamorphicdvd.gif (2563 bytes)

  • Region 1 encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • 24 chapters
  • English & French subtitles
  • Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1
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