1996, PG-13, 103 min. Directed by Rob Cohen. Starring Dennis Quaid, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Dina Meyer, Julie Christie, Sean Connery.
REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., June 7, 1996
Dragonheart tells the story of a burned-out 10th-century knight (Dennis Quaid) who joins forces with an 18-foot-high, 43-foot-long, fire-breathing dragon (a computer-generated creation voiced by Sean Connery) in order to put an end to the tyrannical rule of an evil king (Naked's David Thewlis, playing a villain so despicable you'll want to see him die almost as soon as he shows up on the screen), to whom they both happen to have former ties. “You Will Believe,” touts the movie's distressingly unimaginative ad campaign and, you know what, you probably will. Sure, there might be a few unconvincing F/X shots scattered here and there, but, all things considered, the special-effects wizards at Industrial Light & Magic (the folks responsible for Jurassic Park, and, more recently, Twister) have managed yet another breakthrough: The dragon here is a walking, talking, fully developed, totally likable character, not merely an eye-popping piece of effects work, although it is most certainly that. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with effects-happy projects like this one, the rest of the movie isn't realized nearly as effectively as its visual illusions, and so, Dragonheart never quite reaches the heights that “high adventure” ought. Director Rob Cohen (who, it must be said, staged better action sequences in his lower-budgeted debut Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) can't seem to decide whether he's making a grand, mythic adventure film, full of cliff-hanging heroics and dog-kicking villainy, or a light-hearted genre spoof. In its attempt to be both, the movie's sense of tone and rhythm are all over the place, and, although a few scenes do strike just the right notes (e.g., the great moment when the dragon catches a spear under its arm and feigns death, or when Quaid, trapped in the dragon's mouth, finds himself in a hysterical stalemate with his scaly opponent), but more often than not, Dragonheart is a disappointingly hit-and-miss affair. At least the actors look, and in Connery's case, sound as though they're having fun, but when it's all said and done, Dragonheart is a merely serviceable fantasy picture, no more and no less.