Dragonheart (1996)

dragonheartRob Cohen’s “Dragonheart” is a film that was admittedly a favorite of mine when I was growing up. When it first premiered on cable, I recorded it on VHS and would watch the movie at least five times a week. Years later, “Dragonheart” is still a fun and rollicking bit of family fantasy fare. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but if you’re in the mood for a nice and breezy fantasy adventure with a hint of menace to it, you might enjoy what Cohen brings to the table. This is also one of the very few buddy action movies involving a human and a dragon, both of whom make up a bickering pair of friends that find common ground and a common enemy.

Watching “Dragonheart” is like watching a modern take on a silly but fun premise we might have seen in the late sixties. If this were set in the late sixties, we might have seen Richard Burton in Dennis Quaid’s role with Malcolm McDowell filling in for David Thewlis. Quaid is knight Bowen who goes far and wide to save his apprentice Einon from death. Making a pact with a dragon for part of his heart granting him a new life, Bowen is unaware that Einon would in fact grow up to be a despicable and very spoiled heir to the throne. When Bowen is relieved of his duties, he takes on hunting dragons for money, and finds himself confronted with a clever and defiant dragon that battles Bowen.

When the two find they have common interests involving self preservation, Bowen and his new friend Draco begin scamming local villages for money in exchange for Bowen killing Draco. The hunting is in fact all one big ploy. Soon, though, Einon begins spreading his murderous wrath across the land and Bowen takes it upon himself to gather local villagers to strike down Einon’s kingdom alongside new ally Draco. “Dragonheart” has enough spectacle and awe to pass itself off as an entertaining and light hearted fantasy. Though the CGI is a bit rigid at times, the narrative is very entertaining with Dennis Quaid playing a convincing anti-hero alongside Dina Meyer.

Sean Connery is very good as the heroic Dragon, who seeks self preservation above all else, and finds a greater cause in helping the oppressed break free from Einon’s grasp. Connery and Quaid have magnetic chemistry making much of “Dragonheart” a fun tale of mismatched allies. Cohen especially has fun with this concept, allowing a slew of excellent moments, including the pair’s stand off during a battle that drags on well in to night time. Cohen’s film presents elements of just about everything with light comedy, fun creature effects, a great tale of good versus evil, and even a despicable villain which Thewlis performs with great enthusiasm. Though it’s not considered a classic, it’s still a very above average fantasy action entry and one I can watch again and again.