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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Dragonheart

Starring: Dennis Quaid, David Thewlis
Director: Rob Cohen
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 103 Minutes
Release Date: May 1996
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Wolf Christian, Terry O'Neill, Sandra Kovacicova, Pete Postlethwaite, Lee Oakes, Julie Christie, Jason Isaacs, Brian Thompson, Sean Connery

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Pedro Sena read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

DRAGONHEART is a live action sword-and-sorcery fable set in "AD 984." It features a large and fascinating dragon that is apparently created with animatronics. The technical aspects of the show are the best part. Watching the fluid movements of the dragon is amazing. Notice especially how realistic his teeth are. Sad to say, that there is not much else worthwhile in the picture. Don't get me wrong. This is not a bad film; it is just a disappointing one. My son, on the other hand, loved it.

The dragon's name is Draco and his voice is by Sean Connery. Although I am a fan of Connery's, I thought his voice added little. Dennis Quaid plays Bowen, who prides himself as being a "knight of old code." He tries to teach the young King Einon (David Thewlis from BLACK BEAUTY) to follow the code, but the king rebels and becomes a tyrant.

Most of the show consists of Bowen first trying to kill all of the dragons, and then getting in a league with Draco to scam the local villagers. Many people are killed in the show. This varies from realistic stabbings to a few very bloody scenes. Most of the blood is at the beginning. I thought Jeffrey (age 7) was going to force us to leave. He was so upset he could not look at the screen. He whispered to me, "why do they have all of this blood?" Why indeed? This is a kids' show and the realistic blood with the gaping wound had no place in it. Other than to scare the wits out of its intended audience, there is no reason for it. Yes, the film is rated PG-13 so we were fully warned, but still it is not necessary and adds nothing to the picture.

I must admit that not being a sword-and-sorcery fan, I had trouble believing that a knight equipped only with a sword could kill dragons that are two stories tall, that can fly, that have a tail that can crush buildings in a single blow, that can shoot fire for hundreds of yards and that have a jaw big enough to eat a man in a single bite. Check your brain at the door.

Julie Christie, who was so wonderful as Lara in Doctor Zhivago and unmemorable in everything since, is again wasted as the king's mother Aislinn. Pete Postlethwaite gives a fun minor performance as the monk Gilbert. Gilbert is always composing verse on the fly, and his dialog is quite funny.

Actually my favorite line in the script by Charles Edward Pogue is one of Draco's. When Bowen wants him to eat the beautiful maiden Kara (Dina Meyer), he refuses. Bowen insists that Draco has done it before, but in a take off on our president's "I didn't inhale" line, Draco says, "I mainly chewed in self-defense. I didn't swallow." Draco is also a philosopher. He tells Bowen, "when you squeeze the nobility, you hurt the peasants."

The script and the direction (Rob Cohen) drags a lot. It gets way too wordy at times. The majestic and sweeping music (Randy Edelman) helps keep the show from hopeless bogging down. The cinematography (David Eggby) is lush and the sets (Benjamin Fernandez) are visually interesting. The costumes (Anna Shepherd), especially those of the female dragon slayer, reminded me of caricatures of bad Wagnerian opera costumes from the turn of the century. I half expected someone to start singing The Ride of Valkyries.

The ending is well done. Notice the pupils in Bowen's eyes at the end. They capture the magic of the show quite well.

DRAGONHEART runs 1:43. It is rated PG-13 for way too realistic violence. There is no sex, nudity, or bad language. My son Jeffrey says he loved the show, but that kids should be at least 6 to see it. He liked it so much, he wants to see it again with some of his friends. Once was once too many for me. I give it a mild thumbs down and generously award it **.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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