A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 134 – Dragonheart

Dragonheart – July 12th, 2010

Let’s play a little game. It’s called Harry Potter Connections! First up, we have Jason Isaacs, who plays Lord Felton and who played Lucius Malfoy in the HP movies. Amusingly enough, Lucius Malfoy’s son, Draco, is played by an actor named Tom Felton. So look at the plethora of connections we have right there! And I haven’t even mentioned David Thewlis! I apologize for going all Potter fangirl for a moment there, but I do find it amusing when these sorts of things happen.

I won’t say I had to search for ways to amuse myself during the movie. After all, it has copious amounts of attempted comic relief. There’s poor Pete Postlethwaite, whom I always expect to be in more serious roles, as a traveling monk who provides a lot of lines that I’m sure are supposed to leave me chortling at his over-educated ineptitude. And there’s the dragon, who’s voiced by Sean Connery. Now, I love Sean Connery, but it’s kind of odd listening to his voice come out of an animated dragon. And the dragon definitely has some groaner lines. Which I think is a real distraction from the later emotional gravity of the movie.

Really, yes, there’s supposed to be emotional gravity here. The whole story is about a tyrannical king with half a dragon’s heart, given to him in the hopes that he would usher in a new era of peace and respect for the old ways, and how the dragon and a rag tag band of peasants led by one rogue knight stand up against him. Really, that sounds pretty good. And if I’m going to stick to my guns and insist on a knight/rogue dynamic, then, well, Bowen, played by Dennis Quaid with one of the worst accents I’ve ever heard, should be the knight (what with Bowen actually being a knight). So since Bowen and Draco (the dragon, of course) are the focus of much of the film, Draco’s got to be the rogue, right? Except no. It’s all muddled. Draco gets all the smart-ass lines and attitude, but he’s also the one upholding the ideals of chivalry and the old traditions. It makes the dynamic messy and not nearly as satisfying as I want it to be.

Regardless of what I want and my ideals, Draco and Bowen pair up to bilk villages out of money by staging dragon slayings until they meet up with Kara, a young woman whose father was killed by the king. She’d like a little revenge, please, with a side of peasant revolt. Toss in the clumsy monk and you’ve got your main characters. Oh, and the evil king, Einon, played by David Thewlis, and his cronies. Einon’s at least got more reason for being a jackass than just that his role is “villain”. He likes power and control and wants as much as he can get into his hands.

I don’t really think it’s all that important to go over how Bowen’s convinced to actually go up against Einon – whom he trained when Einon was young, until Einon was wounded and got the dragon heart and decided to stop pretending to give a shit about chivalry and just go full-fledged asshole. It’s part of the plot, sure, but it meanders a little and it involves a vision in Avalon and eh, I don’t really care why he turned around. He’s a knight. That’s what he’s supposed to do. The important part is that he and Draco and Kara all train a bunch of peasants how to fight, storm the castle and manage to do a bang up job of it all until the climactic showdown between Einon and Bowen, with a twist I saw coming fifteen minutes into the film.

But for all that? I enjoyed it. I can think of plenty of other fantasy movies I’ve enjoyed just as much, and several I enjoy more, but really, I enjoyed it. It was fun enough to make me laugh a few times and really, by the end I got pretty good at ignoring Dennis Quaid’s pseudo-accent enough to just watch the swordfighting. And I’m a sucker for swordfights. It’s not the epic it wanted to be. To be that I think it would have needed to tone down the comic relief and pump up the mythology and grandeur. But every so often, in the middle of a battle or when Einon’s being hateful, or at the end when the not-a-twist is playing out? There are sparks of a pretty good fantasy in there. And being a fantasy lover, that’s good enough for me.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment

Dragonheart

July 12, 2010

Dragonheart

In the summer after I saw Jurassic Park in the theaters I thought that it would be really cool to have a big exciting fantasy movie that used the same technology to create wondrous massive dragons. I still do. Sadly, this movie is not the one to realize that dream. Yes it has a big computer-animated dragon, and with the voice of the inimitable Sean Connery no less, but the movie lacks something.

Wonder, maybe. Draco, the dragon, last of his kind, should be a creature of magic and awe, but in an attempt to make him relateable the film makers have converted him largely to comic relief. He’s all “ready or not, here I come!” and bad singing and huge expressive smiles. I understand the relationship that they’re trying to forge between the dragon and the disgraced knight, and maybe if there was some chemistry there between the two of them I could forgive it. But there’s not. Dennis Quaid’s character Bowen, once the two have started adventuring together rather than fighting, claims to care for Draco, but I never felt there was any truth to it.

The story is pretty straight forward. An evil despotic king was, as a young wormy lad, gravely wounded when a peasant uprising resulted in his father’s death. A dragon gifted him with half his heart to keep him alive, hoping that with that noble heart beating in the boy’s chest he could create a noble king, but the lad turned into a hateful bastard anyhow. The kid’s tutor in battle, the “knight of the old ways” Bowen, blamed the dragon for the way the kid turned out and became a dragon slayer.

Years later he has killed every dragon but one. And that one (the one that gave his heart to evil king Einon) he befriends. The two of them bum around for a while fleecing people by doing the old “only I can rid you of this Dragon menace” con. Then they get mixed up in another peasant uprising. Of course they have sidekicks. There’s the feisty red-head daughter of the leader of the first rebellion (Dina Meyer.) There’s the priest with his bad poetry who turns out to be a crack shot (Pete Postlethwaite.)

The effects of the dragon are really quite good. Most of the time it’s very well inserted into the movie and feels almost as though it’s on set with the actors. (There are a few times when the lighting doesn’t quite match up, but they’re pretty rare.) I just don’t agree with the performance that the animators gave him because his gamboling and goofing leaves the movie with no emotional impact whatsoever. The dragon is meant to be the heart of the film, and for me it never worked.

I’m not fond of Dennis Quaid’s performance either. Thankfully he doesn’t try to do a Scottish accent, because he attempts a brogue early on in the film and I nearly laughed out loud. Instead he adopts a gritty gravelly voice, which affectation just made me roll my eyes. He feels more pirate than knight to me. All “Arr – follow the old ways, Jim me lad.”

By the end of the movie I can clearly see how I am SUPPOSED to feel. I just don’t feel it. At all. And I kind of feel bad that I don’t, because a lot of people worked really hard to make this movie. Still… it means that someday I still have the chance to make the dragon movie of my dreams without being accused of plagiarism.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment