Dragons were once considered a fantasy element, deadly and violent creatures shown in novels and movies. A movie’s entertainment value skyrockets when a fire-breathing dragon appears. Dragons are strong and mystical dinosaur-like animals that turn imagination into a whole new level of excitement. In this video, we’ll discuss nine films in which a dragon is at the centre of the plot.
Matthew Robbins directed the dark fantasy film Dragonslayer in 1981. The storey revolves on a king who made a deal with a dragon to sacrifice virgins in exchange for him leaving his realm alone. Soon after, an ancient magician and his apprentice offer to fight the dragon and save the next sacrificial maiden, the king’s own daughter.
This collaboration between Paramount Pictures and Disney came as a bit of a surprise to audiences since it had content that was more sophisticated than the typical light-hearted children’s entertainment that Disney promoted. The violence, adult themes and brief nudity stirred up a bit of a controversy at the time even though Disney did not hold the distribution rights in the United States.
Nevertheless, it was an excellently directed film with top-notch production value. Its remarkable special effects identified it as the best ever use of celluloid animation. Viewers were highly impressed with the cast performance, mainly Sir Ralph Richardson as the wizard Ulrich, and the movie’s camera work, which was credited for the use of widescreen composition.
Finally, with breathtaking cinematography, this film reached out to several fantasy buffs as their favourite 80s film. Interestingly, the fire of the dragon was executed with military grade flamethrowers.
Reign of Fire (2002)
Rob Bowman directed this dystopian post-apocalyptic scientific fantasy film in 2002. Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, and Gerard Butler lead an all-star group. It is set in modern-day England, twenty years after workmen on the London tunnelling project inadvertently awoke dragons from millennia of hibernation. As a result, the monsters overtake humans as the dominant species on the planet, putting humanity’s survival in jeopardy. Two remaining teams, one commanded by Quinn Abercromby and the other by Denton van Zan, agree to collaborate in order to destroy and slaughter the dragons and recapture the earth for humanity.
This film is a strong combination of mediaeval legend and modernism, depicting the human fight to survive after being pushed to the bottom of the food chain. The film’s simple presentation of a humans vs. dragons narrative is well received by viewers.
There is no unwarranted humour or special effects. Moreover, before people watch this film, they often mistake it to be centrally about dragons and forget about the human struggle which is a more dominant theme of the story.
The post-apocalyptic set doesn’t make it the most aesthetically pleasing but it still contains good performances, and an inspiring story. One of the main reasons for the success and positive reception of the film was due to Bowman’s comfort and familiarity with this kind of subject matter.
George and the Dragon (2004)
George and the Dragon, often known as Dragon Sword, is a 2004 historical fantasy film partly based on the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. The storey takes place in mediaeval England. Following the conclusion of the first crusade to liberate the Holy Land, a group of tired knights, squires, soldiers, and priests return home across a Europe that has changed dramatically. When George decides to settle down and live a tranquil life, he learns that King Edgaar is in bad shape owing to the disappearance of his daughter. Soon after, George and Elmendorf went out to find the princess in exchange for a tiny plot of land from the monarch.
This film is praised first and foremost for its stunning cinematography. However, owing to distribution issues, not many people were able to see it until much later.
It contains serious, heartfelt drama which is enjoyable for both children and adults and great performances by the cast. It received quite a bit of criticism for its CGI which was not up to the mark for a film created in 2004 and its dialogues, which were too cheesy. The characters had good chemistry with one another, and although, it was a decent mix between legend and farce, it was the right combination of a playful yet serious story.
Rob Cohen’s British-American fantasy action-adventure film is a gem. Dennis Quaid, David Thewlis, and Sean Connery star in the film, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Draco, a dragon, heals a young King Einon after he is injured in battle.
A dragon slayer runs across Draco a few years later, and the two partner together to perform a performance for the public that only they know about. Bowen “slays” Draco and receives a payment from the town or hamlet that he “saves” from the dragon in the process. Soon after, the team realises that they must defend the realm from Einon, who has become evil.
The film Dragonheart is recognised for its uplifting effect on spectators. Needless to say, with its A-List ensemble and heartbreaking plot, this paragon of visual effects and cinematography has the power to make even the most hardened of people cry.
Besides, it is a textbook example of soundtrack being optimally used to enhance its plot and emotional impact. This film also received a menial amount of criticism for its lack of realism in portraying a dragon’s ability to walk on two legs. However, for those who recognized the escapism of it all, the idea of a retreat into a fantastical, fictitious world was what drove most people to fall in love with this film.
Many film connoisseurs have claimed that one cannot truly absorb it without being able to comprehend the distinctions and boundaries it portrays between fantasy and reality. Few people noticed that Draco breathes fire only through his nostrils and never from his mouth throughout the movie.
Eragon is an action-adventure film directed by Stefen Fangmeier, based on Christopher Paolini’s novel of the same name from 2002. In his ambition for power and to rule the Kingdom of Alagaesia, King Galbatorix, a former dragon rider, betrayed his companions and subjects. Eragon, an orphan farmer kid, discovers a blue stone provided by the princess and recognises it as a dragon egg. Eragon becomes a dragon rider after the birth of Saphira, as part of a prophesy that promises he would free the people of Alagaesia from Galbatorix.
Unfortunately, the movie garnered a lot of flak for not staying true to the book. Although several spectators praised the film’s visual effects and cinematography, their main criticism was that it lacked skilled storytelling. The actors’ performances were also critiqued, and the film’s ageless message was lost in the translation.
The story’s format of being narrated as exposition did not provide viewers with the entire tale and left several plot holes; its descriptive nature rather than a portrayal of the events also did not bode well.
Finally, the characters have all been left static without any emotional depth or character development. Most of the recurring themes in the novel like friendship, tolerance and justice were also not conveyed in the film. Fun fact, Eragon is known for being the last film to be released on VHS in the United States.
Pete’s Dragon (1977)
S. Field’s unpublished novel Pete’s Dragon and the USA (Forever After) inspired this 1977 American live-action/animated musical fantasy comedy directed by Don Chaffey. It depicts a nine-year-old orphan named Pete in the early twentieth century who, with the help of his companion, a cartoon dragon named Elliot, flees his violent adopted parents. They flee to Passamaquoddy, where they live with Nora, a lighthouse keeper, and her father, Lampie. However, Elliot is being pursued by Dr. Terminus, an unscrupulous guy, for medical reasons.
Despite the dragon being the sole animated character, this is an amazing narrative with a fantastic blend of animation and live-action. Beautiful photography and charming, dynamic people abound in this film. Despite its somewhat corny lines, it is an overlooked film.
Although the initial plot slightly strays, it still succeeds in portraying interesting sequences, and proves to be highly entertaining even for adults. Moreover, it is a top-notch musical with very enjoyable choreography. It is a common misconception among viewers that every Disney movie has its specific marker which helps them identify it, but this movie had no such thing.
In fact, the orphan running away from abusive parents to an even more abusive world trope was appreciated by many for adding a hint of realism within the film. This happens to be the first Disney movie to be recorded in the Dolby Stereo System which was just released then.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
This is a 2010 American computer-animated action fantasy film largely based on Cressida Cowell’s 2003 children’s novel. DreamWorks Animation created it, and Paramount Pictures released it. The narrative takes place in a fictional Viking world, where Hiccup, a Viking youth, wishes to follow in his tribe’s footsteps and become a dragon slayer.
When he finally captures a Night Fury, his first dragon and has one last chance of being accepted by the tribe, he realises that he doesn’t want to kill the dragon. Instead he befriends it.
Viewers consider this animated masterpiece to be one of DreamWorks’ finest animated feature films. It is a well-written storey with emotional depth that appeals to both youngsters and adults. After seeing Eragon, viewers who had read the novel were sceptical at first, but were relieved to see a film that was done better than the book. It has vibrant figures with highly dynamic expressions and emotions. Furthermore, the dialogues are well-placed.
Although some viewers felt that the action-packed film with a cute central character trope was a bit overplayed, they agreed that How to Train Your Dragon stands out for several reasons. Firstly, the convention of 3D being used in high street cinema was portrayed more efficiently in this film.
Its pace was also comfortable so that viewers didn’t think it was fast paced or a slow burn and it had a wonderful music score. It is evident that a lot of thought and effort has been put into making this a commercial success.
The Flight of Dragons (1982)
Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. produced and directed The Flight of Dragons, an animated fantasy film released in 1982. It’s a rough adaptation of Peter Dickinson’s speculative natural history book of the same name and Gordon R. Dickson’s novel The Dragon and the George.
Its premise centres around the realm of magic being threatened by the realm of logic, so Carolinus the green wizard shields it forever. When Ommedon the evil red wizard opposes him, Carolinus arranges a quest to be led by Peter Dickinson, the first man from both realms; science and magic.
The majority of spectators have regarded this picture as a deep experience, with well-paced action, insightful language, and a plausible narrative. It also has a touching conclusion. Furthermore, it is a film that appeals to both children and adults, with youngsters being enthralled by the plot and stunning animation, while adults delight in the scientific and aeronautics-based humour.
It portrays an unusual connection between science and the spirit which are usually considered to be opposing forces. Additionally, it contains an unlikely cast of voice actors including Larry Storch, Henry Morgan and John Ritter. Being a film made in the 80s it was highly praised for its animation since most attempts at the time were either clearly unrealistic or laughable.
It is anything unlike the stereotypical hack and slash film that the 80s were known for. However, it didn’t have a theatrical release until 1986, being only available on Direct-to-video before that.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Peter Jackson directed this enormous high-fantasy adventure picture in 2013. It’s the second instalment in a three-part series based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s books. It depicts Thorin and his companions seeking assistance from a strong stranger after successfully traversing the Misty Mountains before facing the horrors of Mirkwood Forest without their wizard.
If Bilgo Baggins reaches the human settlement of Lake-Town he will have to fulfil his contract with the dwarves. The party must complete their journey to Lonely Mountain and Bilbo must seek out of the secret door that gives them access to the hoard of dragon Smaug. Meanwhile where is Gandalf and what is he hiding?
In terms of fantasy films, this, along with the Lord of the Rings series, is pretty much the gold standard. The Hobbit: The Return of the King improves on everything that the first film failed to convey. Viewers, on the other hand, were critical of the picture for a variety of reasons. The climax was ruined by the change of locale near the conclusion, and the screenplay veered too far from the text. It’s crucial to remember that these details only annoy viewers who have previously read the book.
Otherwise, the film is an outstanding wonder that exhibits beautiful cinematography and good costumes and makeup. Critics often forget that this is not simply Tolkien’s adaptation but also Jackson’s work and the two should be appreciated as independent works and not criticized based on the aspects of the book that the movie didn’t draw from.
Then viewers will be able to identify the brilliance of this film with its fantastic direction, action and of course the dragon. Interestingly enough, Orlando Bloom performed his own stunts for the film.