Friday, 7 March 2014

Dragonheart (1996)



















I remember this coming out in 1996 and thinking they had just ripped off the film title from 'Braveheart' which came out the year before or 'Thunderheart'...just saying.

So an evil King gets killed by a small bunch of rebellious peasants. His ugly ginger son takes his place but also gets wounded so he's taken by good knight Quaid to a Scottish dragon which can heal humans apparently. He is healed and made to promise he will be good unlike his father, well he lies and turns out even worse, didn't see that coming huh. This angers Quaid as he feels the dragon twisted the young Kings heart so he vows revenge on all dragons.

The catch is that further down the line Quaid's knight realises that a worth while deal can be struck with the dragon for monetary gain. So they begin a partnership where the dragon scares the poor dumb peasants and Quaid rides in and saves them...for a few pieces of gold.

So the film is set in olde England and does have a reasonable realistic approach in that sense, or at least they try. Problem being the film doesn't look anything like England but in fact looks exactly like where they shot it, eastern Europe. I did get the feeling that most of the budget for this film was used on creating the CGI dragon as everything else looks pretty poor really. This King only seems to be King of a small valley, there is no other mention of the rest of England or any other people outside this valley. His castle is pokey, he doesn't seem to have many troops, there seems to be more peasants than troops or even buildings to house them, everyone wears the same outfits all the time, the wigs are all obvious and hilariously bad and the film keeps circling around the same grassy/rocky areas over and over.

The effects at the time were big, they were big time effects believe me, this film garnered much attention because of its CGI dragon. Looking back now its nicely done on the whole but obviously with time the cracks are now evident and the CGI shines through. There are some nice shots when 'Draco' is wet and when he breathes fire, plus the flying sequences are quite good but when he chats with humans it becomes a bit iffy. And yes Draco is his name, draco the dragon, surely they could come up with something a bit more original?.


The idea of a knight and a dragon teaming up for a living during the medieval period is a good one but it doesn't quite feel fully serviced here. We only get a very very bare bones look at other peasants, other villages and how they go about this agreement. No sooner have we seen one badly interpreted village scam the plot goes off down this rebellion route against the evil young King. We then get a very very very average looking final battle sequence against...I dunno, about 50 horseback troops and about 100 peasants who were conveniently trained up in the art of war not more than a few hours before.

There isn't really any decent lore in this film either, nothing on dragons much. The fact Draco can speak is hugely important I would of thought, it shows he is an intelligent beast, not just a dumb killing machine, surely humans could learn a great deal from this creature. I also want to know if all dragons can speak in this universe, they clearly have magic powers and possible immortality with a human, sheesh there is loads to discover here but we get nothing!. Why on earth would people wanna kill all these super intelligent sentient beings off?!!.

It really does all feel a bit low rent...accept for the dragon. In fact the dragon is the best thing in the film really, Quaid looks bad in his blonde wig, Dina Meyer looks ridiculous in her peasant garb, Isaacs is wasted, Postlethwaite is also wasted but Thewlis is actually a decent slimy King...in a bad ginger wig. The choice of Connery as Draco is a good one, no complaints there, in fact its perfect.

A fun cheerful fantasy with a surprisingly stirring orchestral score no doubt, but looking back its all very hokey and quite poorly made if you look closer. The selling point is Draco obviously and without him I think this would have been a disaster. Its a B-movie with an A grade effect in it basically.

5/10