The anime re-watch got me thinking about revisiting a selection of films that I’ve not seen in ages, some good, some bad. One of the interesting things about this concept is the opportunity to see how each film holds up today and whether it’s actually as good as I remember or being viewed through rose-tinted glasses. Today’s movie is the fantasy action-adventure Dragonheart.
To warn, there’s likely to be spoilers ahead particularly for those that haven’t viewed.
Dragonheart is a 20 something-year-old fantasy adventure film that released in 1996 to mixed reviews. Re-watching I expected this to look and feel particularly dated due to the story focusing on a massive CGI dragon called Draco. At the time it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual and while there are exceptions, I find that 90s special effects haven’t particularly aged well.
The film stars Dennis Quaid who is always engaging and from memory, Dragonheart is set in England. Quaid plays Bowen, a Knight of ‘The Old Code’ yet clearly makes no effort to put on an English accent. Along with this, you also have the late, great Sean Connery voicing said CGI dragon – so there’s at least a couple of plus points before we even get started, though I’m not hugely optimistic.
This new viewing confirmed that Quaid does indeed do some sort of accent but honestly, it’s so inconsistent that it’s really hard to know for definite what it is. In a way, it’s oddly endearing. The opening shows why Quaid’s Bowen has become the cynic we see him as today. Following an accident the young prince, Einon, is seriously wounded and can only be saved by taking part of a dragon heart to heal his own. Bowen mentors the prince yet fails to make him a better man than his tyrannical father, King Freyne and places blame on the dragon heart as he vows to hunt them all down.
Connery is excellent as the voice of Draco, he brings a sense of gravitas and wry humour to the role. His character serves as a guide for Bowen as he attempts to make him remember who he once was and what he can stand for again. This relationship is ultimately the heart of the film. David Thewlis as Einon is savage which I guess shows he’s playing the ‘villain’ well. Jason Isaacs adds yet another bastard to his CV back in the good old days where bad guys didn’t get much development but get to overact magnificently. I’d forgotten he was even in this.
The CGI isn’t as bad as I was expecting, it’s obviously dated quite badly and doesn’t look great but it works. The way Draco interacts with the world around him is actually still quite impressive. So overall visually it hasn’t aged amazingly but it’s by no means terrible and in terms of how much I enjoyed the film that thankfully hasn’t changed. Dragonheart is still worth revisiting today.
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