Doug Lefler’s Dragonheart: A New Beginning (or Dragonheart 2), is a fantasy movie set sometime in the Middle Ages, and is a sequel to 1997’s Dragonheart. The original probably owed its modest success to stars Dennis Quaid and Sean Connery, who shows up in voice only as a CGI dragon. It took 3 years, but Doug Lefler’s sequel finally made it out alive — only to go directly to video. “Uh oh” is right, Dougie.
Dragonheart 2 stars Christopher Masterson (TV’s “Malcolm in the Middle”) as Geoffrey, a lowly stable boy who works in a monastery and dreams of becoming a knight one day. (Right away you know the fantasy movie cliché will be coming fast and furious, so strap in!) The king, of course, is under the spell of a charming knight name Osric (Harry Van Gorkum) who, as all charming knights with a twinkle of evil in their eyes are want to do, really wants to take over the kingdom. Our lowly stable boy gets the chance he’s been waiting for when he accidentally discovers a young dragon name Drake (the voice of Robby Benson) living underneath the monastery. As Drake and Geoffrey’s friendship grows in secret, a wandering Chinese man (Henry O) arrives in town with a young female charge, Lian (Rona Figueroa). The two outsiders are seeking a dragon in order to stop it before it turns evil. And if Drake is that dragon, then they must kill it…
Dragonheart 2’s producers made the right choice by sending this turkey directly to video, where it will sit on a Blockbuster shelf somewhere waiting for some poor, unsuspecting chump to pick it up, intrigued by its boxcover. My memory of the 1997 original is somewhat muddled, but I do remember that the movie was not particularly very good. A 3-star movie, perhaps, mostly on the basis that I remember enjoying Quaid’s turn as a noble knight and the CGI dragon back then had the benefit of a slightly larger budget than its sequel. Oh, and it also starred the always delightful Dina Meyers, who looked terrific twirling a sword.
While Dragonheart 2 tries its hardest to make the most of its miniscule budget, it’s just not all that good of a movie. The script by Shari Goodhartz, while harkening back to a lot of mythology set up by the original, proves to be too childish and prone to goofy situations and weak dialogue. The action in Dragonheart 2, including swordfights and fisticuffs, are of the “don’t take us seriously” variety, which means there’s no real danger to any of the characters, thus no tension. Even the lead villain, played by Harry Van Gorkum, is not all that “evil” until the very end, when he shows his true colors. The word “cartoonish” comes to mind when describing all the characters.
Dragonheart 2 really tries to be a movie for kids and has no intentions of being anything else. The film has no bloody bone in its body, and everything is very simple in writing and execution. This also explains the presence of a “young” dragon that looks, well, like a baby dragon (if there was ever such a thing as dragons, and thus baby dragons, to begin with). Drake the dragon is lovable, with small, unthreatening horns and a soft, comforting voice courtesy of Robby Benson. Besides fart jokes involving Drake, there’s also plenty of snot gags. Yes, folks, this movie was not made for Mr. and Mrs. College Professors, but rather their kids.
There are some major factual goofs, but those seem trivial when considering the movie’s concept concerns a dragon. But for those interested, here are some of them: Henry O’s character, Kwan, is supposed to be Chinese, but anyone with any knowledge of Asian culture knows “Kwan” is a Korean name. Besides that, both Kwan and Lian, strangers in a strange land, speaks perfect English. How nice, saves money on translators, I suppose. And true to stereotype, the tiny bundle name Lian is a powerhouse martial artist, kicking ass left and right, and the old Kwan is a wise sage. Could you get anymore clich’?
There’s really nothing here that would occupy an adult’s attention for any lengthy period. Everything is geared for the PG audience, even the embarrassing subplot about friendship, losing focus about what’s important, blah blah blah. Adults love to preach to kids about these things, but I doubt if the kids will be listening, since they’ll probably be too busy going ga-ga over Drake the CGI dragon.
It’s a good thing kids don’t know the difference between a shoddy CGI dragon and a decent one.
Doug Lefler (director) / Shari Goodhartz (screenplay)
CAST: Christopher Masterson …. Geoffrey
Harry Van Gorkum …. Osric
Rona Figueroa …. Lian
Matt Hickey …. Mansel
Henry O …. Kwan
Tom Burke …. Roland