This DDD(dreaded double sided disc) has on it two movies Dragonheart(May/96)and the second of the franchise films, A New Beginning(Aug/2000).The first is by far the best of the pair.It has the best acting,best story and most heart of the two.
Dragonheart finds us in 984AD and Knight Bowen(Dennis Quaid) teaching a young and future king about sword fighting and the ways of the old code.When the young lords father is killed in a village during a sacking,his young inexperienced son rushes to his aid only to have his heart pierced and ends up fighting for HIS life.His mother(Julie Christie)takes him and Bowen before a dragon(later named Draco and voiced beautifully by Sean Connery),so the dragon may give the (now)young king half his heart to save him.Before doing so the king must swear an oath to the old ways and this he does.
Time passes and the young king has grown,but he has turned into a veritable monster and is despised by the population.Bowen blames the kings disposition on the Dragon and vows from then on to rid the land of every living dragon.This he does,meeting up with a priest/bard named brother Gilbert along the way(Peter Postlethwaite).His quest to kill all dragons comes to pass,all that is except one;12 years on.In fact the two eventually form a partnership so Bowen can make money `ridding` the locals of their newly acquired dragon menace.Time and bad luck eventually outs Bowen and Draco`s scheme,and they must flee.Draco takes Bowen to Avalon,and amongst the tombs of the Knights of the Round Table.Bowen has a vision that night and restates his vows to the old code he had foresaken.He also learns that Draco was the one to give the corrupt king his heart and set him on his quest to kill dragons in the first place.Draco said he knew the young boys deceitfulness but had hoped to turn him to good.
Bowen and Draco`s adventures eventually lead them back to the corrupt king and the inevitable showdown.Draco is captured and Bowen,with the help of an uprising of villagers,storms the castle.Bowen reaches Draco but at a pivotal point must decide to kill Draco AND the king or just the king.Draco dies,as does the evil king,but Draco ascends into the heavens and turns into a star to join his long dead brethren in the Draco constellation.
Comes the end of this film and there is not a dry eye in the house,it is that moving.If there had been anything like a weak supporting cast surrounding Quaid,or Quaid has been weak in his delivery,this movie I don`t think would have done that well.He`s the American,with the lead role,trying to affect an English accent and not doing that well at it,but he somehow pulls it all off,and then some.He is surrounded of course by a brilliant English cast,the least of which is veteran Peter Postelthwaite the Priest/Bard.While there is a serious line of story to this film there is plenty,and thankfully so,alot of comedy and lighter moments thrown in for good measure throughout.Bowen`s quest to kill Dragon`s is many times hilarious,and gets even more so in his `duels`with Draco.Sean Connery of course breaths full life into his voicing of the dragon and lends the creature a believable and distinguished air that few others could have matched.And let us not forget music man Randy Edelman`s beautiful scoring of this film.
Dragonheart:A New Beginning is really Dragonheart-lite.It was a film obviously designed for the small fry and the acting,story and the CGI dragon shows it.It takes place some years after the first film and the location is at the Monastery where Brother Gilbert and Bowen lived until they passed away.It seems Bowen found a dragons egg in Draco`s cave and they brought it to the monastery for safe keeping.The egg has since hatched and the remaining brothers have vowed to keep it a secret.In the meantime a so called knight of the old code is co-ruling the kingdom along side a king which he keeps drugged;listening to his advice only.In comes a pair from the Orient seeking info on the dragon and a two tail comet(signifying the dragons tail)which will fly overhead in eight days.They are not welcome but stick around nonetheless.A stable boy at the monastery becomes fast friends with the dragon(voiced by Robbie Bensen)and it soon becomes apparent that the knight of the old code is actually out to get a piece of the dragon`s heart so he can become immortal.His tricks don`t work but when the knight obtains the old heart of an ancient dragon that was the first evil one,that the Orientals carry,he becomes that dragon.He tries to talk the monastery dragon into joining him and ruling the world but he doesn`t fall for it.He ends up being able to kill the evil one by turning him into ice which shatters.His stable boy friend however is mortally wounded and he gives part of his heart to him and they become irrevocably joined forever.
The ending to the film goes by in less than five minutes,as if someone suddenly realized they were running out of film or just couldn`t think of anything else to prolong it.As I mentioned the story is really geared for smaller fry and this is especially noticeable with the dragon itself,as it has all these soft round edges to it and looks as cuddly as a cute plush toy.And Bensen`s voice just enhances the good,touchy feely vibe it gives out.The acting is alot weaker in this one too,especially our leading character in stable boy Geoff(Chris Masterson),who couldn`t carry lunch let alone a leading part.The so called old code Knight is also about as menacing as a stale sandwich as he grunts and groans his way through this film.A New Beginning is NOT what fans of the first movie would expect to see,and in going after the small crowd it took out any heart the first gave to the second and kept it well hidden.It is too bad.
Technically both movies look good and crisp,the first in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1 and the second in its`original w/s a/r of full frame(it was a direct to vid film).Extras include:featurettes on the making of Dragonheart one and two,commentary on both,outtakes,trailers,animating the dragon in the second film,and more.
All in all a recommended DVD.NOT for the second film which does the first such an injustice.The first is what you are after and which will satisfy the viewer completely.A solid cast do the honours there,a great musical score and who else but the venerable Sir Sean Connery bringing an unforgettable dignity to the voicing of Draco.