Dragonheart is a 1996 fantasy adventure children’s movie directed by Rob Cohen and starring Dennis Quaid, David Thewlis and Sean Connery as the voice of Draco the dragon.
The story is about the knight and dragon that is the last of its kind who join forces in order to stop a villainous king. The plot is very simplistic and seen countless times. It was done infinitely better in 2010’s ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ and it is very influenced by Disney’s ‘The Reluctant Dragon‘ especially in the dragon singing part. Speaking of the Dreamworks animated film, Dragonheart in my opinion would have turned out much better had it been done as an animated movie because in animation fantasy is much better realized and also much more believable. And because it is in live-action, it is often too silly with at times being even ridiculous. However, this is a children’s film which means that silliness can be forgiven and such scenes are perfect for kids.
However silly and typical the plot is, it nevertheless is satisfying mostly because it is engaging, apart from the first third which is very boring. It also has a heart and it has its charming moments. But the ending is what propels the movie due to its beautiful, sad and emotionally satisfying conclusion accompanied by terrific visuals and some wonderful music. The first third of the movie is very boring and fails to introduce you to the characters properly, but the movie quickly gets better and better as it progresses and ending it on a high note.
As for the characters, they are nothing to write home about, but the character development is okay so they are passable. Einon is a typical bad guy, but he presents a genuine threat which is great. Kara seeks revenge on him for he murdered her father which means she is very one-note but nonetheless an interesting and a pretty stupendous female character. Bowen as the protagonist is good, but nothing remarkable and of course Draco is the standout, lending much of both dramatic and comedic scenes to the movie. And their relationship is wonderful and interesting to follow.
The performances are very good, stupendous even for this kind of movie. The highlight is David Thewlis being perfectly believable in the villain role. However, although Dennis Quaid and Sean Connery both did an excellent job, I could never buy either of those casting choices. Quaid somehow does not fit within this period with his looks and his voice, whereas Connery has such a distinguished and easily recognizable voice that it is distracting to hear it coming out of a dragon’s mouth. And although I got used to both of them later on, the casting director is still to blame for making such questionable choices for this movie.
Now technically, Dragonheart is phenomenal and that is its biggest strength. The scenery is wonderful to look at, the directing is solid and the pacing is excellent later on after the slow and uninspired first third. But the standouts are the score and the special effects. The score is very uplifting and at times even beautiful, especially in the finale. It certainly lifted the whole movie. And the effects on the dragon are terrific because it looks amazing for 1996 and it didn’t age as badly as some other films of the time.
Although too boring at the beginning and often silly with some very juvenile sequences, Dragonheart is nevertheless an engaging and even charming movie with a beautiful score, excellent effects and warm ending. It would have been much better in animation and some casting choices here are quite questionable, but it is nevertheless a quite solid entertainment with its fair share of memorable and endearing scenes, great visuals and inherent charm.
My Rating – 3,5