DTV Wonders: Dragonheart a New Beginning

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Sure I have a glaring very negative review, but I have mostly reviewed DTV sequels where they work nearly best, as an animated film.  The place they would natural work worst is as a live action fantasy to a film that a sequel just feels wrong, like Dragonheart.  As a live action film they cannot simply replace actors, and with a  lower budget key special effects would be cheaper, and it is a harder to simply adopt a cheaper style.

The one returning presence is this film has the same producer as the original.  The film is directed by Doug Lefler, who besides this has directed no movies, but at least he directed some episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journies, and The Last Legion seven years later.  By direct to video standard this was an expensive film, as it cost 11.4 million dollars (one fifth of the original’s budget), and based on what I heard that is way more than an animated sequel.  A live action fantasy film is the worst thing to make work with a low budget, but sometimes looks are deceiving, but sadly this is not one of those times.  I think what this movie needed was mystery, and it gave none.

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For the viewers who will not see the original Dragonheart, or need their memory refreshed it ends with the Dragon, Draco, one of the two main characters dying.  This makes further adventures hard.  This film takes place years alter, and through exposition old Bowen got this egg from his old cave.  Apparently Draco who had been away from his cave for twelve years never checked on the egg or told Bowen about it despite having ample time before dying.  Also it is specifically mentioned Bowen found it right before dying of old age.  For being on his death bed Bowen looks incredibly strong.  The egg hatched in Brother Gilbert’s monastery, which is now controlled by Friar Peter.  Also there is a two tailed comet and according to a prophecy (no explanation for whether it is reliable) says that when it passes the moon in a week an evil will use a dragon’s heart.  Finally a sable boy named Geoff wants to be a night.  Despite having quite a bit of tell, do not show the exposition is actually not a weakness.  The events are both shown and told later, and it is surprisingly both quick and easy to follow.

The film’s real opening is Geoff watching the knights pass, as Friar Peter reminds him to accomplish his chores.  We then get to a problem with a lack of unity in plot.  Quickly the film cuts to Lord Osric being promoted to main advisor, and it is practically stated by the narrator the king is suffering from a mysterious mental illness caused by Osric, and Osric is running the kingdom.  Osric can actually be kind of entertaining, but for everything else this film needed a mysterious villain instead of an obvious one.  To describe his basic plan is that he wants a Dragonheart to make him immortal.  For now he is settling for simple power, and everyone in the kingdom will wear a tunic color coded based on class.  He will also make everyone live by the old code, which is actually quite villainous, as Bowen was against that since it cannot be forced.

 

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Mansel, our narrator, is a monk in charge of watching the young dragon, but Geoff gets by him to explore a place that he knows Mansel refuses to talk about, hence it must be important.  He finds a sword and…

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bad special effects.  His name is Drake, and drake as never been outside or done anything that dragons are expected to do.

I know I am changing to different character too much, but that is because the film changes around every thirty seconds, and I cannot talk about drake and Geoff’s next discussion without first revealing how bad Friar Peter.  Kwon and Lian, two strangers from the East, arrive to discuss the prophecy.  They heard about Drake due to Brother Gilbert’s old writings about dragons and want to stay until the prophecy’s time is gone.  First Friar Peter calls Brother Gilbert moderately dumb, okay.  He then calls him a bad poet. what? Brother Gilbert is quoting The King James Bible over six hundred years before it will be written probably meaning in the Dragonheart Universe his old poetry was used to make it.  Worst of all friar Peter says he does not believe in dragons, due to the Bible.  I have only read the Bible three times, and I know there are hordes of dragons in it described as real beasts.  Friar Peter asks them to see Osric, and he asks them to leave to avoid a peasant panic.  If he was not an obvious villain the audience would see him as a reasonable authority figure with a classist flaw.  Mansel tells Drake Friar Peter is dead, presumably struck dead by God.  Drake takes the news badly, but he does go outside the next day making his mood seem better than usual.

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In outrage at being deemed a commoner with no chance at moving up and becoming a knight Geoff throws his tunic off a cliff and demands that Drake fly him away  Drake refuses and Geoff goes to get his tunic except he gets cornered by some of Osric’s men who are angry at him for not having his uniform tunic.  Basically they are running things like high school with lashings instead of demerits.  Also the secret dragon talked in plain view where the Easterners saw him, and they decide to save Geoff as he can lead them to the dragon.  Lian unarmed wipes out all of the knights, which is probably the worst fight scene I have ever seen.  It does not make Lian seem awesome, but Osric’s minions look like incredibly weak.  It also last a reallllllllllllllly long time.  This whole horrible fight is practically useless except giving them a reason to be allies, s Geoff is again corned by knights and knocked off a cliff.  This time Drake lies and saves him, and Geoff thanks him by telling him to pull quite so hard.  To make it worse the flying effects are really bad.  Already no one is likeable with the possible exception of Mansel (he has nothing important to do, but he offers some comedy), the story is really predictable, and the action and special effects are really bad.

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Everyone saw it, and the peasants are mad, but obvious villain to the rescue.  He wants Drake as “Protector of the Realm,” and Geoff is now in a huge position of power.  He tells them to let the Easterners stay, and can now wear a red tunic of a knight.  This flaw does not really go anywhere, but Geoff has a problem with only accepting something if it suits him.  When the tunic marks him as a peasant he hates it.  When it marks him as important he loves it.  When Osric considers him unimportant he hates him, and when Osric values him he thinks Osric s better than Drake.  I do not think this goes anywhere other thank making Geoff seem selfish, but it is at least fun to notice and shows potential with a better script.

Mansel being the narrator decides he had better become important.  He says Drake is the subject of the prophecy.  Geoff says Drake is too innocent.  Mansel has a comeback that the prophecy states it will use a dragon, but Geoff says he will protect drake, and finally Mansel accuses Geoff of helping it.  If not for the narration I would have no idea these two are supposed to be best friends.  Also by not describing everything Geoff is being edited to be way nicer than he is.  Kwon and Lian decide to kill Drake, but Drake knows something I wrong, and ignores them.  They then decide Drake gets to live, as he passed a test.  Again Geoff was too busy training to be a knight with Osric to notice making his protecting abilities beyond horrible.  Also Osric has gained his trust with bare minimum flattery.

The Easterners agree to train Drake, and tell him about Dragon hearts, like how they can be split in two to help a human.  Also they are carrying around with no security the heart to an ancient evil dragon named Griffin, which can still be put in a human, and… Why have they not destroyed this obviously evil thing that fits the prophecy so well?  They wanted to kill drake with minimal evidence he was evil, so why is this inanimate object that can fulfill the prophecy, but not fight back yet burned already.  It is made clear later fire can destroy it.  There is no mention of it having any type of value.  At least do not carry it with only two guards around literally all the way from China to Britain where anyone could use I to fulfill the prophecy of bringing evil back.  Well, this twist that Griffin is the villain is pretty obvious except for how he fits with Osric who is constantly working on his evil plan on camera.  What the audience knows is he will now replace the king if he dies, he wants half of Drake’s heart, and he wants a war.  Griffin wanted the extermination of humans, so maybe an evil vs. evil fight.  Maybe instead of being a knight who slays an evil dragon Geoff will have to get an evil knight to turn good making him a hero maker to ironically his mentor.  Two obvious villains with no common goals can surprisingly make many options.

 

The training scenes can be funny, and Geoff does get called out on not helping Drake enough.  Also due to borrowing his suspicious full body coat Mansel gets mistaken for Kwon, and Osric’s men kidnap him, and Mansel is now in the dungeon. Osric sends more men to capture Kwon and Lian resulting in another horrible fight where Osric’s men look like complete incomptetents.  Lian and Kwon are winning easily with fans (that are like shields as they deflect sword blades).  The Easterners get swords and now have an even easier looking win, but Osric arrives.  Again as Geoff does what is best for Geoff unlike last time he fully trusts Osric’s wonderful argument that… “These foreigners are not like you and me.”  Geoff surrenders and Kwon and Lian follow.  I guess they are different, considering that is all it takes for them to surrender.  Maybe if Geoff came off as important to their fight or even goals now that drake was close to them too, or if the guards were not so horrible.  To make their surrender even more ridiculous when marched to the dungeons tied up and weaponless the guards are still terrified of them and not trying to hide it.  Also Mansel is wearing a diaper like thing, and only a diaper like piece of underwear.

After awful fight after awful fight we finally get a legitimately well done plan and wording by Osric, genuinely good stuff from Geoff and Drake, and a very good battle scene. To add to the good without the bad script and plot being around it is easier to notice that the angles, cinematography, backgrounds, and sets look very similar to the original and still match this film.  This is not a horrible film, but besides this scene over an hour into the movie it is just consistently bad or poor.  If the whole movie could capture the cost effective and exciting nature of this fight, the intelligence of both hero and villain, and emotion of nearly repeating Draco’s mistake in the original.  Osric’s plan is for some of his minions to pretend to be enemy warriors.  He will save Geoff from one of the, and he will pretend to get injured in the process.  As Geoff trusts him now and will feel indebted to him and get Drake to give him half of his heart.  This plan was not revealed, making me wonder if he did do a legitimate heroic act, get injured, will get the heart, and will turn into a hero later. Instead Geoff discovers he is faking and gets Drake to not give him the heart.  All of the troops turn on Drake and Geoff, but Drake finally masters fire breathing, and he gets them out of there.  Finally this movie is turning around, unless this was just a fluke great scene, but…

 

This film wastes no time confirming it was just a fluke.  Lian uses a bad humming sound to woo a guard into getting close enough for him to be knocked out in one punch, and of course he is the only one, and he loses the keys.  They find Griffin’s heart, and Osric gets back and realizes it is a dragon’s heart.  Out of nowhere Osric reveals what would have otherwise been a good villain backstory.  Griffin was cursed before he died to be reborn into the form he hated, most, man.  Osric is Griffin reborn.  Besides coming out of nowhere it also has the flaw that he was reborn a wealthy lord, instead of say a stable boy.  He grabs the heart after Lian throws it in a fire (should have done that years ago you idiots), Osric kills Kwon with an arrow, and he puts the heart in his chest cavity turning him into

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I owe Drake’s design an apology.  To the movie’s credit the dragons do not look horrible, they just smile and fly horribly and look bad.  I can still believe they are talking and there.  He says he will enslave humanity…

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It has been well established a really good knight is a perfectly good match for a dragon.  One dragon is not powerful enough to take out 100 knights, much less sixty million people.  Drake is mesmerized by a fellow scaled fire breather and nearly joins Griffin until Geoff points out how evil he is, and Drake remembers how he was nearly ticked into giving him half of his heart.  Instead they have a very bad looking duel (a low budget live-action film should stay away from fantasy action), and Drake wins, Geoff gets injured, and Drake shares his heart with him.

That was Dragonheart a new Beginning.  It had good sets, an okay human villain, and not much else.  There was a good movie getting ready to come out in the seventy-five percent the way through battle scene, and Ostric had plenty of potential, but Geoff never learned his lesson about not being selfish.  Mansel and Lian never really go anywhere.  Drake trusts too much, and learns to trust the right people, at least he had a complete arc.  It is no where near as bad as Lion King II, but it is worse than The Land Before Time XIII.

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