Monday, February 01, 2010

I swear I saw a dragon!

Hollywood (or anyone for that matter) really has never managed to make a good dragon movie. Dragonslayer in 1981 wasn't too bad but the effects weren't remotely ready. Surely, I thought, what we need is some good CG, but in 1996, Dragonheart showed us the first completely computer generated dragon, but I never really bought it, plus the celebrity voice was very distracting. (Update: I realized I completely forgot about 2002's Reign Of Fire, which disappointed me because there weren't enough CG dragons. Thanks to Brendan for pointing out this glaring omission.)

At one of the cheap dollar movies I went to about a year or so ago, I saw the trailer for Dragon Wars, which apparently is now just D-War. Take a look.

I knew that it would suck, that there was NO WAY that it would be good. Still, I hoped. I skipped it at the dollar theater, not even figuring it to be worth a lousy dollar bill. Surely, all the best bits were in the trailer. When I saw that it was streaming on the Netflix box, I couldn't resist. And sure enough, I was right. The best bits ARE all in the trailer.

Outside of the special effects there is nothing redeemable about this film at all. The dialogue is bad, the actors are wooden, the story is incomprehensible. It has something to do with reincarnated ancient Koreans who somehow or another create dragons etc. etc. The reincarnated versions show up in modern day L.A. and so does a large serpent that, 500 years ago, was not allowed to become a dragon. It wreaks general havoc in the city, spiraling up the US Bank Tower in downtown L.A.

Despite the plot being completely laughable, I will say that the technology has arrived and the dragons are finally believable, although the main one is two parts Harry Potter basilisk and one part Roland Emmerich's Godzilla. Why any movie would take ANY inspiration from Godzilla is beyond me. The smaller dragons, which resembled winged velociraptors from the Jurassic Park films, were pretty cool and arrived at just about the time I was getting bored with the main nasty. Having seen them displayed so convincingly, I figure that Smaug will be amazing in The Hobbit.

All those dragons got me to thinking about my favorite dragon movie - that being Disney's Pete's Dragon. My 7 year-old self would gladly sacrifice all the special effects in the world for the presence of Helen Reddy. My 37 year-old self is perilously close to that same assessment.

Maybe Dragon Wars would have been improved with the Elliott the dragon and a song or two from Helen Reddy. The world will never know. What I do know is that the people of Passamaquoddy would have crapped their pants had the dragons from Dragon Wars shown up in their town.


digital_sextant said...

I haven't seen Dragon Wars nor Dragonslayer, but I'd put REIGN OF FIRE at least in the same ballpark as DRAGONHEART, at least as far as FX are concerned. It's shoddy, but not terrible.

I'm surprised you didn't mention it.

Dan said...

Oh, man, I completely meant to mention it as my wife really liked that movie but it must have slipped my mind. That movie suffered from the opposite problem of Dragonheart in that I didn't feel like there were ENOUGH dragons.

That might be due for a rewatch.