That time of the week again, folks. Kids Film Friday. This week’s entry does have some quality axe-killing so might not be suitable for the very young. Three and older though, you’ll be fine.
Five words about dragons? Damn.
The knight Bowen teams up with Draco, the last dragon, to inspire a revolt against the vicious King Einon. Unfortunately, Draco saved Einon’s life as a child by giving him a piece of his own heart, and now the two are bound together. Can they overthrow the tyrant? Will everyone make it to the end?
I won’t keep you in suspense any more: I enjoyed this flick. This is a decent story, ably told. It says a lot about the quality of work done by ILM that even after 16 years, aside from a couple of composites, Draco is still a very convincing CG creation. Just three short years after the watershed that was Jurassic Park, and they’ve got a completely invented mythical beast that you really buy as being a presence in the scene. The dinosaurs at the park had the twin benefits of audience familiarity (well, for some of them) plus the “wow” factor that came with being the first. By 1996 people were getting blasé to a degree, and less forgiving. But I would say Draco is as much of a landmark as the T-Rex. He has expressions and gestures and body language, and then there’s that voice. Would the dragon have worked as well as it did without Shir Shean’s shyrupy shounds? Would it have been better with a less-recognised actor in the part? Am I only asking these questions to bump up my word count? I suppose we’ll never know.
Some of the characters are more rounded than others, but the cast all work hard to establish the reality of this alternate late-10th century England where dragons are an accepted truth, albeit a damned nuisance and still a creature to be feared. Dennis Quaid has an odd accent but a solid physicality as Bowen, the disillusioned knight turned freelance dragon slayer turned freedom fighter. Pete Postlethwaite gives his first semi-comedic performance as the bumbling Brother Gilbert, who ends up caught between “Thou shalt not kill” and being a crack archer. David Thewlis is wonderfully slimy as King Eidon, even under a frankly rather disturbing wig, and Dina Meyer gets to show off her axe fighting skills as Kara, instigator of the rebel uprising. It’s also fun seeing Jason Isaacs as Eidon’s effete second in command.
This flick is not going to change your life but it is some quality afternoon entertainment, and what the hell is wrong with that anyway?