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Case Number 00832

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Dragonheart: A New Beginning

Universal // 2000 // 85 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Chief Justice Mike Jackson (Retired) // November 1st, 2000

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All Rise...

The Charge

Conquering the enemy may take more than courageous exploits and brave deeds…it may take appearing in a different movie!

Opening Statement

Sigh. What do you say about the direct-to-video sequel to a movie that you hated in the first place? And about a movie produced by one of the lesser members of the De Laurentiis clan? And one directed by the guy responsible for the pilot episodes of both Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess? Especially when you can't stand either Hercules or Xena: Warrior Princess?

Sigh.

The Evidence

Dragonheart was hardly what I'd call a good movie, or one that necessitated a sequel. It starred Dennis Quaid (must bite tongue…avoid Meg Ryan joke…) as a reformed dragon slayer, and Sean Connery (oh, how the mighty have fallen) as the voice of the pixilated dragon who befriends him. Draco the Dragon was supposedly the last of his kind, and since he died at the end of the movie…well, I guess that ending wasn't conclusive enough for Raffaella De Laurentiis, producer of both films. Since recombinant DNA or cloning didn't exist in the generic Middle Ages, the writers came up with a remarkably "clever" way of introducing a new dragon: Draco had a dragon's egg squirreled away in his…HIS…cave! Perhaps these crack scribes learned a different set of the birds and the bees than I did. But, it can't be called Dragonheart: A New Beginning if there's not a dragon.

Anyway, the egg hatches and an order of rather areligious monks raise the dragon in secret. (See, in this movie, you're a monk if you have a funny haircut and read dusty books, as opposed to real monks, who have funny haircuts and read dusty books AND devote their lives to religious service.) The secret of the dragon is discovered by Geoff (Chris Masterson, Cutthroat Island, Malcolm In The Middle), a young stable boy with dreams of becoming a knight (because, after all, what kind of teenaged boy dreams of cleaning up horse dung all his life?). He lures Drake the dragon (voiced by Robby Benson, also the voice of the Beast in Disney's Beauty And The Beast) into the open where he is discovered by Prince Osiric (Harry Van Gorkum, Batman And Robin, Gone In 60 Seconds), who we can tell right off is a rotten apple to the core.

Anyway, long story short, it turns out Drake really isn't the last dragon, but he will be, thanks to his flaming farts (yes, the movie sinks that low) and his rare ability to shoot ice! Damn, and all this time I thought dragons could only breathe flames, the polar opposite of ice! Oh, and there's a duo of kung-fu fighting Asians who may or may not want to kill Drake.

Sigh.

Like I said before, Dragonheart: A New Beginning is a direct-to-video production. It is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame. The picture is noisy throughout, particularly in the frequent scenes in dark areas lit by firelight. Annoying moiré shimmering is our constant companion. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very forward-centric. The subwoofer barely twitches, despite frequent opportunities to do otherwise.

There's a small collection of extras. A six-minute Universal "Spotlight On Location" consists largely of producer Raffaella De Laurentiis talking, with a few shots of the filming in Slovokia. There's also short pieces on Robby Benson's vocal recording, the computer animation of Drake, and a trailer.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Here it comes…sigh.

It's hard to care when a movie is this mediocre, this blah. There's nothing appallingly bad, nor is there anything particularly good. The acting is barely adequate, especially considering everyone speaks with a different accent. The special effects are not theatrical quality, but they are slightly better than your average made-for-TV movie. The stunts are obviously staged, though doubtless there's been worse in chop-socky Hong Kong flicks.

Wait a second…I take that back. The effects are lame. They give crappy CG effects a bad name. Drake is so fake-looking, they could've used a cardboard cutout with a superimposed moving mouth and it might've been more convincing. Kermit the Frog looks more lifelike. Drake moves like an arthritic dog with wings. The most annoying thing, besides his cartoony eyes? He's light-sourced the same in every friggin' scene. Sunlight, torchlight, pitch darkness—he's lit the same with the same shadows and the same white-light look. It's painful.

If this says anything about the movie, even the "webmaster" of a "fansite" devoted to it (linked at right) says it wasn't very good, but (quoting the site) "but that is just me." Sorry, buddy, it's not just you. Dragonheart: A New Beginning is spewage. And Universal, you can quote me on that, if you want to make me your quote whore.

Closing Statement

My local Blockbuster outlet charges $3.69 for a five-day DVD rental. I figure that's about $3.68 more than you should pay to watch Dragonheart: A New Beginning. Besides, if you have 85 minutes of your life to waste, you could volunteer in a soup kitchen, write a letter to your Congressperson, wash your hair, give your goldfish a pedicure, clean the gutters on my house, iron your underwear, straighten all your paperclips, catalogue the entire run of Good Housekeeping in reverse chronological order…the possibilities are endless.

The Verdict

The filmmakers are fined for wasting the judge's time. Universal is found guilty of foisting mundane, uninteresting product on the buying public when so many more deserving films are awaiting DVD release.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 60
Audio: 65
Extras: 30
Acting: 25
Story: 15
Judgment: 8

Perp Profile

Studio: Universal
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
Genres:
• Action
• Bad

Distinguishing Marks

• Spotlight On Location
• The Voice of Drake
• Animating the Dragon
• Trailer
• Production Notes

Accomplices

• IMDb








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