I will start off this review by saying that I never saw the original Disney version of this movie, so I am free of any built-in bias. I will state that this is a very well done movie with very few things I would have changed had I been the director.
Oakes Fegley, the young actor who plays Pete, was very well cast. He brings just the right amount of innocence to Pete’s character without resorting to playing the stereotypical feral wild child. This makes him very sympathetic, which was demonstrated by the amount of applause, mostly by kids, the film received when it was over. Other actors of note were Bryce Dalles Howard as a local forest ranger and Carl Urban as a greedy construction worker. Robert Redford plays the local story-teller and father of Bryce Howard’s character. He also serves as the narrator at the beginning and end of the movie.
I would say that the main theme of this movie is about acceptance. There is also a minor theme dealing with deforestation which could be distracting or overwhelming (like it was in Avatar), but was not. I give the script writers credit for finding a balance between these two distinctive themes.
Now, as to my over all view of the movie. Eliot, the dragon of the title, is depicted as a hairy, green, dog-like creature with some characteristics which reminds me of The Never-Ending Story. This is a depiction which I had trouble accepting. This may have been done as a way to make a creature which is usually shown as being scary more “child friendly”. The only other statement that I will make about this movie is: take Kleenex with you because there are some very emotional scenes in here (thankfully none are of a crying child which I find to be a cliche). I would give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5.