DragonHeart

You Will Believe

I remember seeing this flick in college, in the theaters.  It was a good movie and though the effects are not really up to today’s standards, the movie is still a fun watch with some really good moments.

Plot Synopsis (There Be Spoilers):

The young, sickly King Einon was wounded in a battle. In order for him to survive, he is healed by Draco, a dragon. Some years later, Bowen, a dragon slayer, encounters Draco. The two team up to form a traveling duo that perform an act, but the act is only known by themselves. Bowen supposedly “slays” Draco and then collects a reward from the town or village that he protects by killing the dragon who had been “terrorizing” them. From there, Bowen and Draco must save the entire kingdom from the rule of the now evil King Einon, who is part of Draco and Draco a part of him. Written by David Landers – IMDB

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The Good

Dennis Quaid – Bowen – Dennis Quaid can be very hit or miss.  In this he is both hit and miss, but for the most part he very good as the dragonslayer Bowen.  Going from knight to dragonslayer-on-the-road, to putting on a show with said dragon makes for a very entertaining transition throughout the film.  Quaid moves well and it is obvious that he spent time getting ready for the role physically.

Draco: Who’s the girl?
Bowen: A nuisance! Get rid of her!
Draco: Why?
Bowen: They’re trying to placate you with a sacrifice!
Draco: Oh, now whoever gave them *that* bright idea?
Bowen: Never mind! Just get rid of her!
Draco: How?
Bowen: Eat her!
Draco: Oh, please. YUCK!
Bowen: Aren’t we squeamish; you ate Sir Egglemore, hypocrite!
Draco: I merely chewed in self-defense, but I never swallowed.

Sean Connery – Draco – Here is the highlight off the movie.  Sean Connery is Draco.  The animators made the face move like his and you can see his scowl on its face from time to time.  In 1996, animated characters and live action was still be perfected and though the concept is not as well done as in movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it works in this flick and the voice of Sean Connery sells the movie.  You forget that the character is an animated dragon and not Connery himself.

When there are no more dragons to slay, how will you make a living, knight?

Pete Postlethwaite – Gilbert of Glackenspur – I love Pete Postlethwaite.  He is a superb British actor and always delivers a wonderful performance (Check out Brassed Off!).  In this he plays an antiquarian monk that falls into the party to help defeat the evil king.  Not his best role ever but he still an acting machine.

Gilbert: My humble life is indebt to your exalted prowess, your dauntless courage, and your superb, swift sword!
Bowen: You have the poet’s gift of exaggeration.
Gilbert: Oh, sir, you should read my histories.

The Bad

The Basic Concept – Dragon saves king but dragons are still bad.  Obviously they learned that dragons are thinking individuals, we saw one remove part of its heart to save the king but the people still leave in terror.  Again, we are back to the concept of the Suspension of Disbelief – I can suspend my disbelief in dragons for the running time of the movie but it is much harder to suspend the disbelief in the continued hatred of dragons after one saved the king.  You would have thought with his life tied to that one there would have been a moratorium on slaying dragons just on general purposes.

The Ugly

Dennis Quaid – Yup, he gets to appear twice.  He is so over-the-top in some scenes that he has no where to go emotionally.  Te amount of rage he tries to put into his role of dragonslayer is put off by the fact that he so easily forms a partnership then a friendship with a dragon.  This may have been a directorial choice but it also may have been the enigmatic Mr Quaid.

All in all, this is a good movie.  Forget the effects, which were Academy Award worthy in 1996, and just get into the movie.  Let the fantasy setting and a very well voiced dragon take you back to the 10th century.