Run time: 103 mins
In Theaters: Friday 31st May 1996
Box Office Worldwide: $115.3M
Distributed by: MCA Universal Home Video
Production compaines: Universal Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 15
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Rob Cohen
Producer: Raffaella De Laurentiis
Screenwriter: Charles Edward Poole
Starring: Dennis Quaid as Bowen, David Thewlis as King Einon, Pete Postlethwaite as Gilbert of Glockenspur, Dina Meyer as Kara, Julie Christie as Queen Aislinn, Sean Connery as Draco (voice), John Gielgud as King Arthur (voice) (uncredited), Lee Oakes as Young Einon, Brian Thompson as Brok, Jason Isaacs as Lord Felton, Wolf Christian as Hewe, Terry O'Neill as Redbeard, Eva Vejmělková as Felton's Minx, Milan Bahúl as Swamp Village Chief, Peter Hric as King Freyne, Sandra Kovacicova as Young Kara, Kyle Cohen as Boy in Field, Thom Baker as Aislinn's Chess Partner
Trying as hard as possible to be Braveheart with a dragon (hell, look at the title!), Dragonheart is a pretty dismal affair, punctuated by a couple of good performances, a show-stealing computer-generated dragon (with a heart of gold), and a really, really hackneyed story line.
The story line in question is this: young Einon (Lee Oakes) is heir to the throne in 982 A.D. England. His mentor is Bowen (Dennis Quaid), who tries to teach him "the Old Code" of honor and knighthood. When the King dies, Einon suddenly finds himself the ruler of England, but not before a nearly-fatal wound. Mom (Julie Christie) is quick to the rescue... suggesting that the dragon on the hill (voice: Sean Connery) can heal him. He does, by giving him half of his heart. Stop laughing; there's more.
Well, Einon (now David Thewlis) grows up to be a real jerk and Bowen blames the dragon for this. He sets out on a quest to kill all the dragons in the land and almost succeeds. When he meets one last dragon many years later, they, well, they become friends. And then they overthrow the bad king, and there are some more silly things that happen... but basically this is just a story about a dragon.
The good things in Dragonheart are rather hard to come by. A number of scenes are genuinely exciting. Pete Postlethwaite as a wayward monk is the most fun of all the characters. And regular readers will understand why Dina Meyer's crimson-haired sidekick character earns my special praise as well. But of course, the only real reason to see the film is Draco, the animated dragon. He's not quite Puff... but he kicks a lot of ass.
Then again, that may not be such a good reason at all. It's really hard to get excited about computer-generated effects these days, especially when they are used in place of a decent story. The really dumb script just kills this picture. For example: the prince is such a jerk, I was ready to kill him in the opening scene; Bowen's hatred of dragons is about the most irrational thing in the world; can you imagine a dragon using the word "Yikes?"; Bowen is essentially indestructible; how many dragons have a voice like Sean Connery anyway--I think Bowen would be able to recognize him by that alone; and much, much more!
Dragonheart also manages to pack every fantasy movie cliché in the world into the picture, from the big scene teaching the villagers how to fight to the damsel in distress to the big mano a mano duel at the end. The only original take on any of this is Draco running amok in the scenes. Add to that an finale that's supposed to be touching but turns out to be just plain goofy, and you've got an enormous mess on your hands.
The tagline to this film is, "You will believe." Insert your own joke here.