The Reel Deal film show and Top 10 Films take a look at our favourite Dragons in the movies as How To Train Your Dragon 2 arrives in UK cinemas…
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Probably the most familiar movie dragon to audiences right now is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Smaug, brought to brilliant life by Weta Digital and the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s little against large as Hobbit Bilbo Baggins and his band of merry dwarves go to battle with this devilish and cunning beast.
Pete’s Dragon (1977)
…but these mythical characters aren’t all bad as Disney’s 1977 film Pete’s Dragon so gleefully shows. Mixing live action with animation, the films tells the story of Pete and his closest friend Elliott, who happens to be a dragon that only he can see. This tale of friendship and coming-of-age is a sugar-coated family-friendly representation of the fire-breathing creature that warms the heart and tickles the funny bone.
…another nice-guy comes in the form of the Sean Connery-voiced Draco in director Rob Cohen’s 1996 film Dragonheart. This entertaining medieval buddy flick sees dragon-slayer Dennis Quaid team up with the last remaining dragon to help the peasantry rise up against their tyrannical King. Adventurous and witty, this heroic tale of man and beast eschews the mindless monster motif to present us with a dragon we can root for.
Reign of Fire (2002)
From one good-hearted mythical creature, however, we switch gears and welcome lots and lots of predatory human-flesh-devouring monsters in Reign of Fire. In a post apocalyptic Britain, heroic stars Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale don out of control facial hair to lead a group of downtrodden survivors as they try to avoid their sharp-toothed, fire-flaunting tormentors. With its focus on the people rather than the dragons, Reign of Fire evokes the “Jaws effect” to make what you don’t see far more effective than what you do, but this also means the film is a nice change of pace in the world of movie dragons.
Top of the list though is 1981’s Dragonslayer. The fire-breathing antagonist here is as bad as they come and beautifully realised by the special effects wizards at Industrial Light and Magic (the guys that had audiences glued to cinemas screen a couple of years earlier when George Lucas introduced the world to Star Wars). The story tells of a 400-year-old dragon that terrorises an ancient kingdom. The King, in order to appease the beast, offers virginal girls chosen through a lottery twice a year as sacrifice but a young wizard takes it upon himself to bring down the dragon and end its murderous reign.