For those who were disappointed that they didn’t see more of Pete’s Dragon in the Pete’s Dragon teaser, the first full trailer has arrived to give you the goods. The catch? The dragon looks sort of weird.
There’s an argument to be made that, since dragons don’t really exist, they don’t need to look convincing. But besides the cartoonish creature, the film—made by Ain’t Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery—has a pretty grounded feel. The finding of a young boy living in a forested national park and a park ranger’s concern for his well-being feel at least nominally realistic, as does the divisive reaction to the discovery of the boy’s dragon babysitter. Naturalists try to save the creature, Karl Urban tries to kill it, and the authorities are caught somewhere in the middle, throwing out one-liners while attempting to follow the dragon’s flight path.
Sure, this is a movie for children, but the tone is more akin to the first Jurassic Park than to the live-action/animation hybrid on which it’s based. So why does the dragon look like a stuffed animal someone won at the fair? Maybe the point is for the dragon to look so out of place in the frame that we empathize with the myriad reactions to it—sometimes wanting to ride the dragon and other times wanting to eradicate it from all the beautiful natural photography. Dragon design aside, the movie looks solid. The cast—including Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, and Robert Redford—seems game for the journey and convincingly reacts to the central special effect, the action scenes look riveting, and most importantly, the film appears to achieve a Spielbergian sense of wonder and fun.
Pete’s Dragon hits theaters on August 12.