This concludes our daily series in which TV-VCR works its way through all five DragonHeart films.
DragonHeart: Vengeance (2020)
God bless DragonHeart three-through-five screenwriter Matthew Feitshans. This is a man not in love with his own words but with the concept of dragon-to-man organ transplant. He is truly pure of DragonHeart.
Given the chance to add on to a series you rebooted, any normal person would continue on with the characters they created, and the world building they invented, but not Feitshans. This guy starts over from square one every time, beginning only with the prompt, “Don’t forget to include a part about a dragon plunking a heart into a dude’s chest.”
Any overlap among the prequels is almost entirely referential, and what exactly having a dragon’s heart does varies wildly from film to film. Does it make you able to teleport between shadows? Does it make your second generation of offspring into varied superhuman mutants? Does it let you talk to animals? Yes, says Feitshans. It’s hard to remember that, in the first film, the entire point of this stupid shit was to make the dragon sacrifice himself to kill the evil king forever connected to him. Now, for four films straight, it’s all just about how incredibly awesome it is to have a dragon heart.
Unsurprisingly, this final (God willing) prequel falls in line with its predecessors in tacking on a few more, completely arbitrary entries to the DragonHeart rulebook. For one, as mentioned, now having a dragon heart can make one able to communicate with animals. But that’s sort of related to this other inexplicable new rule.
Something I failed to mention across this five-film journey is that the dragons can make themselves look like a pile of boulders, and they use this power maybe once per movie and it doesn’t even matter. It’s like when awesome robots with guns needlessly turn into cars just to make the title make sense. Well, in Vengeance, we learn that female dragons are ice dragons, and that also they can morph into any animal they please. Because why not?
The other thing we learn is that this series is like catnip to members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Following vocal performances from Sir Sean Connery, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Sir Patrick Stewart, now Helena Bonham Carter (CBE) is the voice of the dragon. She comes out of this as the lucky one, though: this one’s not even all that bad.
Vengeance is straightforward to its advantage, and though its plot seems plucked from the most generic fantasy-action role-playing game (that the film’s stock Madmartigan character looks like Geralt cosplay and a villain looks like he’s from God of War doesn’t help), that’s an improvement for this convoluted franchise. A young peasant’s family is murdered by a quartet of animal-themed raiders who have been marauding through the villages, so he teams up with a sellsword and a dragon to hunt them down. It’s dorky and not really breaking any ground here, but it’s fine; a perfectly acceptable introductory Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
Anyway, here are your final DragonHeart standings:
1. DragonHeart: Vengeance (5) – Real dark dragon-that-morphs-into-a-horse victor here. No one goes into four straight-to-video sequels thinking it will end on a relatively high note, but there you go. It’s lame schlock, but it’s pretty competent, straightforward, lame schlock, and it’s not even frustrating to watch.
2. DragonHeart: Battle for the Heartfire (4) – It’s got the best performances of the series, and the only plot that isn’t just “get the evil baddies,” but it’s bogged down by the franchise’s ever-stupider mythos.
3. DragonHeart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse – After the nadir that was DragonHeart 2, it’s refreshing that this just seems like some dumb BBC Game of Thrones knockoff recently added to streaming. The bored or fantasy-loving may even lazily let Netflix start the second episode.
4. DragonHeart – David Thewlis is absolutely the only good thing about this movie. It deserves to be in cinema Hell for introducing this moronic premise that’s somehow mutated through four more needless films. It’s a tonally scattershot embarrassment, but its worse sin is that it isn’t even bad enough to be ironically enjoyable. Just trash.
5. DragonHeart: A New Beginning (2) – Look, the first sequel is bad, bad, bad, and it has some truly awful effects, but it’s innocent enough that it seems cruel to really hate on it all that much. It certainly belongs on the bottom, but I still kind of hate the original more. It’s like, frozen chicken nuggets are cheap and filled with awful shit, but it’s not like that’s anything remarkable. You can imagine some kids nonetheless filling up on this yuck.
In conclusion, I see that Universal likewise made five Scorpion King movies…