Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema: if you don’t leave now, it’s consensual. This is the part of the internet where your intrepid host (or, in this case, your intrepid host’s wife) dons her finest Middle Age-y costume, unsheathes her silver Nerf sword and just starts whaling on an awful, maleficent movie. And yet – probably as a consequence of some ambiguous plot device early in my childhood – I check the killing stroke, throw down my weapon and extend my hand in peace to this humbled, repentant film.
I cement our bond by throwing a feast in its honor and invite our reader (yes, singular) to indulge in a snack specially tailored to the film: not only not fit for a king, but probably not legal in any monarchical government.
This week’s mistake of draconian proportions: Dragonheart
What Makes It Bad?
Frankly, the reason this movie is bad stems from the unlikely circumstance that it might actually be too good. Track with me. Released in 1996, Dragonheart followed a bit too closely on the heels of an incredible, game-changing summer blockbuster which also featured giant CG reptilians: Schindler’s List. Director Rob Cohen used actors that most people know; he hired ILM for special effects, to the extent his budget could afford them; he put some music to it; and, by God, he poured his stunted little heart into his direction. Unfortunately, in his headlong rush to do everything that Spielberg did, Mr. Cohen forgot to avoid doing everything that Spielberg didn’t do. Namely, direct a story that had no business being written in the first place.
The plot is just..it’s just silly. You see, it’s called Dragonheart because this *dragon* gives half his *heart* to an ungrateful wretch of a prince who doesn’t even end up being the protagonist. SEE? SEEEE?! But wait, there’s more.
Some Quaid or other, who obviously graduated valedictorian of the School for Exact Blocking, vows revenge on this dragon for corrupting his prince. Twelve years later, he’s killed his penultimate dragon, abandoned his liege lord (who may or may not have also been his ambiguously homoerotic playmate) and wanders the, admittedly beautiful, countryside acting as a worthless-comic-relief magnet. At this juncture, I have to interject that the writer – in a making-of documentary that I TOTALLY DIDN’T WATCH ALL OF – called the second act…wait for it…”Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Dragon.” You know, because of all the stealing…and dragons.
Accent-less Quaid-man is forced to team up with his nemesis, Fully-Accented Connery Dragon, in order to fleece poor peasants out of gold, probably to purchase more hair product. But then they ignite the peasants to rebel against the king, with the help of an Equally Accent-less, lackluster leading lady. But will Quaid-man be forced to kill his friend in order to kill his former friend? The answer, of course, is yes. For some reason.
All this is taking place in the beautiful, picturesque, Olde Englysh countryside of…Slovakia. It seems kind of lazy to shoot there, what with there being no need for location scouting or sets, but it *was* the only place the production could find castles. You can’t throw a paycheck at Sean Connery without hitting a castle. Yes, the Scottish Treasure lent his unmistakable voice to the somewhat shoddily rendered dragon, Draco. Aside from one lecherous-sounding remark aimed at a flock of sheep, I can’t find fault in his performance. In fact, he probably should have gone in the next section.
Why I Love It!
OH EM GEE. DRAGONS. No, Draco’s CG might not be Avatar or Jurassic Park or, let’s face it, Sharktopus quality, but every aspect of dragon-lore a fantasy nut like me could ever ask for is covered. Fire-snotting? Check. Tremendous wings and frolic-y flying? Check. Eventual friendship with humans? Check. Talking in Sean Connery’s voice? Check.
I loved this movie without reservation the first time I saw it and, despite all the flaws I can see as a seasoned person-who-has-watched-more-than-23-movies-in-her-life, I still love it. It’s easy to watch. The plot isn’t complicated, the script is straightforward and the characters are easy to place in their ready-made types. Those all sound like reasons it’s bad, but when you’re a little sleepy after work and you just want to kick back with some dragon fantasy and a ginger ale, you can’t go wrong with Dragonheart. And Canada Dry.
Have I mentioned the Quaid? Stunning. Never mind the fact that I still don’t know which Quaid it is. Ignore the *blatant* hair acting by that outrageous wig. Forgive his complete inability to even try to attempt the least little accent. Dragonheart just wouldn’t be the same without the hulking, gravelly anti-hero that is One Of The Quaids. Plus, he all but makes out with young Remus Lupin. David Thewlis is exactly on the money with his heartless king interpretation. He’s an amazing actor in everything he undertakes, even if the part isn’t written very well. I just end up wondering how far west the Mongolians actually conquered in the Dragonheart universe, because King Einon is quite obviously mongoloid. Too soon? Historically inaccurate?
OO! Dragons! Draco is a dragon! Did I mention dragons? There are dragons in this movie.
Junkfood Pairing: Half a Heart-Shaped Box of Valentine’s Chocolates
This week’s junkfood comes to you courtesy of the dragon’s point of view. In the Dragonheart fantasy, humans are distasteful to dragons, so I reluctantly took “long pig” (aka The Most Dangerous Game, aka human flesh (don’t pretend like you didn’t know)) off the menu.
Instead I’m going to focus on the one misstep Draco made in his life: giving half his heart to an undeserving recipient. I suggest you follow his lead with a delicious dietary misstep and eat half of the heart-shaped box of Valentine’s chocolates that we both know you still have sitting in your pantry from February, you fatty fat pack rat. Your stomach will revolt. What’s that you say, bad joke from the movie? You say your stomach’s always been revolting? Then this time it will rebel. You will believe.
And you will believe in more Junkfood Cinema