Jade's Trick

Reviews, Spotlights, and Randomosity of all things under the sun.

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Location: Hartford, Connecticut, United States

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

"Everyone's a critic!" -- Dragonheart

Ok, screw it. Someday, I may get around to revising this blog. But that day is not today.

Dragonheart is a great example of slightly-above-average fantasy. It blends good acting, good characterization, good story, good special effects, good cinematography, good setting, good combat, good humor, and good drama together to make something entierly good, but manages against all odds to avoid creating a masterpiece.

Basic story: Einon is the son of a tyrant king. Bowen is a knight who teaches him the Old Code of Camelot and basic combat skills. Einon sustains a stabbing to the heart immediatelly after relieving his dying father of his crown, so his mother takes him to a dragon with a Scottish accent (voiced by Sean Connery) and begs for his help. He helps by cracking open his scales, pulling out half of his ectoplasmic heart, and shoving it into Einon, not only saving the young king's life but also bonding the two such that each feels the hurts of the other. Oh, and Einon can't die unless someone kills Draco. Einon, of course, follows in his father's footsteps, and Bowen, thinking that Einon's evil is the result of the dragon's mischief, swears to hunt down and kill every dragon in the world until he kills the one that saved Einon.

In fantasy, plot tends to play a large role, and this film is no different. Fortunatelly, the story is rather compelling. Although there's never so much as a stray thought that it might end differently than it does, the precise twists and turns tend to be more unexpected than obvious, but they never take turns that one would think illogical or unlikely. This is still stock fantasy, mind you, and other than the concept that dragons are actually good, it doesn't really stray far from the beaten path.

Dragonheart's characters, however, are what make the movie. Bowen makes a number of U-turns throughout the movie, changing from an idealistic young knight into a cynical antihero and then back into an idealistic knight. Like the plot, his development is relatively predictable and stock, but still good. Einon plays the unadultured villain, which is one of the flaws of the movie in my opinion; I personally like some complication to my baddies, but the movie offers every reason to hate Einon and no reasons to not. Draco is an excellent character: clever, funny, deep, suitably emo, and yet he maintains his edge. Brother Gilbert has the interesting distinction of being kinda the bumbling sidekick but also kinda not; his poetry is highly suspect, but he offers some very funny moments and serves as a quasi narrator from time to time, plus he's an archery savant. Kara is the stock idealistic plucky female empowerment symbol (which is cliche that doesn't think it's cliche). Overall, the characters were quite good.

The visuals in Dragonheart were very good when the film first came out nearly ten years ago and they've held up quite well. The CG is particularly good, particularly in the case of Draco; he moves like a dragon should move, with a combination of serpentine and cat-like grace without forgetting his huge size, and is overall very convincing. Costumes, makeup, and props are accurate enough for the time period. And finally, the Landscapes are breathtaking (which is admittedly personal preference, as I have a strong affinity for bright settings).

And that's pretty much it.

Action: 3.5/5 bladed tails (The fight scenes with Draco are very well done, very realistically done. The battles against Einon and earlier his father, less so, primarily because the number of troops involved seems much lower that one would think it would be).
Acting: 3/5 shining stars (The acting is good, but mostly unremarkable).
Comedy: 3.75/5 cleaving axes (This flick can be quite funny when it tries to be).
Story: 3.5/5 stationary spear-chuckers (The story's good, but almost entierly average).
Visuals: 4/5 dragon hearts, har har (Perhaps one of the more expectional aspects of the movie, all the visuals are really quite beautiful).

Overall (not necessarily determined by the above categories): 3.5/5 dragon-tooth-lined shields (If you're a fan of the genre, you should definatelly see this movie. If you're looking to sample it, this movie fits your bill. But if fantasy isn't really your thing, look elsewhere).


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