Upon discovering there are four DragonHeart sequels, TV-VCR will be reviewing one a day until we’ve seen them all.
DragonHeart: Battle for the Heartfire (2017)
We’ve had DragonHeart as a VHS children’s film, DragonHeart as a Syfy pilot… Why not DragonHeart as X-Men? With Patrick Stewart imparting sage wisdom to a couple super-powered, ostracized mutants, DragonHeart: Battle for Heartfire delivers just that—along with, against all odds, the most watchable franchise entry yet.
The first sequel yet to feature a returning screenwriter (Matthew Feitshans), Battle for the Heartfire is nonetheless just as tenuously connected to its predecessor as the rest of them. And yes, it again piles on even more convoluted mechanics regarding dragon half-heart transplants (while unceremoniously dropping all the bullshit about shadow teleportation the same writer introduced).
In this chapter, Gareth from the last movie is now a king on the verge of death. Drago, ever connect to Gareth, accepts that he too will soon die. A monk blesses the dragon, dipping his fingers in holy water and making the sign of the cross as Drago bemoans that he may not have been noble enough to enter dragon heaven—which, to remind you, means dissolving into piss-colored mist and turning into a star in the Draco constellation. It’s an early reminder that DragonHeart is fucking insane.
So the king dies, but Drago’s like, “Weird, I guess I’m connected to someone else now.” Turns out, his heart-bond has now transferred to Gareth’s twin grandson and granddaughter. Notably, the two have dragon superpowers that are apparently inherited from someone with dragon heart, and also that skips a generation. Edric (Tom Rhys Harries) has the strength of three men, and sister Mehgan (Jessamine-Bliss Bell) is pyrokinetic. Both laying claim to the throne, they’re forced to finally work through some childhood trauma to face a greater threat: enough vikings to fill a modest lecture hall! Moreover, Drago’s Heartfire—the pilot light in his chest that lets him breathe flame—has been stolen and bottled, and that’s slowly killing him. Because it’s not a DragonHeart unless at least two additional pages of bullshit have been written into the franchise’s ever-growing dragon rulebook.
Battle for the Heartfire is helped by being less about the dragon organ donor program (this is the first DragonHeart to not actually see a dragon plop a heart into a guy) and more about character, but credit for it working at all belongs fully in the hands of its charismatic leads. Harries (last seen in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen) and Bell are far more convincing, and have far more sibling chemistry, than a straight-to-video fourth DragonHeart movie deserves. Meanwhile, Stewart—who takes on Drago vocal duties from Ben Kingsley, becoming the third knighted acting icon to be in one of these goddamners—completely and perhaps literally phones it in, which is exactly the commitment level a straight-to-video fourth DragonHeart movie deserves.
Like the last chapter, this one is over-filtered and under-lit, but regardless, it’s easily the best DragonHeart yet. Stupid, but again, for a straight-to-video fourth DragonHeart movie, far more watchable than it has any right to be. C+