Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Flight of Dragons



In the midst of a discussion about the Neverending Story with a friend on LJ, he mentioned this movie as one that he watched over and over again as a kid. The name didn't ring any bells, but considering that I loved pretty much all fantasy made in the 1980s, I knew I had to watch this movie. It's a bit rare - don't expect to rent this one from Netflix.

The movie takes place in a world where there are 4 wizards who seems to control all of magic and each has domain over a different area - the earth, the air and sea, light and harmony, and evil. Magic is slowly fading from their world because people are embracing logic and science. The evil wizard decides he's going to force people to embrace science until it kills them (with nuclear war) and then apparently he'll just sit around and rejoice about ruling the ruined wasteland they leave behind. Obviously the other wizards aren't too happy about this and decide to stop him, but they're not allowed to interfere directly. So they call upon a dragon, an old knight, and "the antiquity" (just run with it) tells them they need to go fetch a guy from the late 20th century to complete the group of heroes. This guy's name is Peter and he's an inventor/scientist who is also totally in love with magic and dragons and has even invented a board game that just so happens to feature all the characters we've met so far in the movie.

Everytime they showed the board game, I kept wondering if they actually made one for sale. I would totally play it.

If you go into this movie thinking really hard and expecting something serious, you're going to be really disappointed. The art is not stellar (it's the same group that did the old Lord of the Rings cartoon movies), the story is disjointed (apparently they picked and chose plotlines from two books and it shows), and its resolution is just a little too neat and silly. On the other hand, if you look at it from a child's point of view, or just an appreciation for 1980s animation, I think you'll really enjoy it.

I guarantee you that if I had seen this as a child, I would have made sure my parents' taped it so I could watch it over and over again. It has everything a fantasy lover could ask for: dragons, fairies, elves, dwarves, knights, trolls, wizards, and princesses. Two things I found pleasantly surprising: it wasn't afraid to kill characters, and there's one very strong female character who shows up in the final act (even if we don't get to know her too well). The part that I loved the most is the time they spend explaining just how something as incredibly huge as a dragon could fly. It also explains why they breathe fire as well. It really is a fairly plausable explanation. The funny part is at the start of the movie I thought "Man, those dragons aren't really flapping their wings or anything, they just seem to float.. how am I supposed to believe they can fly?" and then a half hour later they were actually telling me how! Silly me thought it was sloppy animation. They showed me.

If you're the type who needs to see something before purchasing, this is the internet and you probably know how to go find it. On the other hand if you're feeling more daring, I recommend buying it. If for no other reason than you're not going to see John Ritter and James Earl Jones face off in any other movie ever.

4 comments:

  1. Dude, I remember this film. Totally awesome for what it was.

    --G

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  2. Well I feel oddly proud for a) being the cause of this review and b) getting someone else to enjoy something I loved as a child.

    I agree with you that the explanation of dragon flight/fire is a highlight if the movie (I used to take great joy as a child in repeating it to my friends and watching their astonished expressions as they decided I was the smartest thing on two legs), but here's something that used to stick in MY craw (past my Thor's Thimble) and still does: if you accept their logic, then how does the Chinese dragon fly? It doesn't appear to expand...

    You'll be pondering that all day now.

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  3. G - it strikes me as right up your alley. I actually recognized the wizard the moment he appeared on screen so I must have seen at least commercials for this or something back in the day.

    Jae - I was going to go thank you on LJ.. Forgot that you were on my twitter. :)
    As far as the Chinese dragon.. um.. well.. maybe his wizard casts a special spell on him? Yeah, that's about all I got.

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  4. i have it on dvd :) love it!

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