The Friday Fiver: Top 5 Movie Dragons
This weeks Friday Fiver is brought to you by guest writer Ciara Ballintyne:
I’m a dragon purist, and I freely admit it. That does affect my perception of the best dragons in film, as well as the fact they don’t appear all that often, and how well they are executed depends on the advancement of special effects at the time. Based on my own arbitrary criteria, here are my top 5 movie dragons:
5. ) Harry Potter
We all know the story of The Boy Who Lived versus He Who Shall Not Be Named… or if you don’t, I’m not going to retell it.
Suffice to say dragons make an appearance with Norbert the baby dragon in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and later more dragons appear in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as part of the Triwizard Challenge.
I really don’t think it’s that hard. Maybe people don’t care, or maybe they think others don’t care. Well I do! Or maybe they are just ignorant. My friends have heard me rant at length about how the dragons in Harry Potter aren’t actually dragons. Again, they are pterosaur type wyverns.
You’re probably thinking this is a small thing, why make a big deal about it. Or maybe you are nodding in enthusiastic agreement. Why is it important? It’s like casting a sheep in the role of a horse and expecting the audience not to notice. In this case, many of them don’t know enough to notice. The fact that a dragon isn’t real doesn’t mean there are no conventions as to what a dragon is.
In any case, this slur to dragonkind was not enough to put me off Harry Potter, and I do like the cute batching scene, as well as the viciousness of the dragons, and their level of danger. No soft and cuddly dragons these. You are just as likely to wind up a snack, and if nothing else you can respect these dragons.
4. ) Reign of Fire
Here we’ve woken something in the depths, and it’s a dragon… Procreating at a rate of knots, dragons soon swarm over the Earth, burning everything in their path and reducing human civilisation to cinders.
The dragons in this movie aren’t strictly speaking dragons – they’re pterosaur type wyverns. That is, they only have two legs, with their wings doubling as front legs. I’m not a fan of this depiction, and the heads are frankly ugly. OK, evil dragons are supposed to be ugly, but not in this way.
Despite that, it does a pretty good job of capturing the sense of what it would be like to be suddenly overrun by dragon-like creatures.
I’ll forgive the use of the word ‘dragon’ in reference to what is more akin to a wyvern, because I suppose if one of these came out of the ground flaming at you, you’d not be much interested in a zoological discussion of its precise nature.
‘Dragon’ would probably be close enough.
3. ) Shrek
She’s purple and she wears lipstick, but other than that, she is undeniably a dragon. I question the cross-species attraction of a dragon and a donkey, being of the opinion that a dragon is more likely to regard a donkey as lunch on legs than any kind of paramour, but otherwise it ticks all the boxes.
Points to DreamWorks for getting something so simple right –even when plenty of others can’t.
2. ) How To Train Your Dragon
I love this movie, as much for the humour as the dragons.
Dragons are cast in the role of evil villain and vicious beast, but the boy, Hiccup, befriends a rare Night Fury after shooting it down and finding himself unable to kill it, thus proving dragons are misunderstood and there is more to them than people believed. F course, his secret friendship is eventually discovered, imperilling his entire village.
There are a variety of dragon-types, but the main dragon is a pretty good specimen. Possibly slightly cartoonish, but it is a kid’s cartoon, so I can forgive that. The fact that some of the other dragons are pterosaurs I’ll let slide, as it makes the dragons easily distinguishable, which is probably important when your audience is kids.
I’m a sucker for a friendly dragon, and I firmly believe if you can find a way to make friends with a dragon, then do it! Do you know how powerful these guys are? It’s like being best friends with the genie in Aladdin.
You ain’t never had a friend like me….
1. ) Dragonheart
Believing his king to have been corrupted by dragons, the knight Bowen swears vengeance on all dragons and hunts them nearly to extinction. Confronted with the last dragon, and being put out of a job, the Bowen forms an unlikely partnership with the dragon to fool villagers into engaging Bowen’s services to dispose of the dragon terrorising them. The business arrangement eventually becomes genuine friendship, when the tyrannical king’s interest in the dragon threatens everything.
I love the dragon in Dragonheart. OK, the name Draco is a bit corny and amateurish, but I can forgive that for the fact they got the dragon right. Four legs, two wings, a tail, and a head that can only belong to a dragon. It’s not that hard people. The accuracy of the dragon takes this one to the top of my list.
That, and Sean Connery of course….
A couple of fairly well-known dragons did not make the list, and I’d like to explain why.
Falkor – The Neverending Story
This is not a dragon. No amount of chocolate, alcohol or anything else you might ply me with will ever convince me otherwise. This is a flying dog. You can call a dog a dragon until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, it’s still a dog. I have eyes. I can see its furry head and big floppy ears.
That’s a dog.
The Fell Beasts – Lord of the Rings
You know, the things the Naz-gul ride. I have seen these called dragons around cyberspace, but I don’t think Tolkien ever envisaged them as such. Smaug was Tolkien’s dragon and sadly, he didn’t really make an appearance in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as I have high hopes for him, and he might have featured in this list.
Whatever the fell beasts are, they are not dragons, and I don’t believe Tolkien ever called them such.
Having scales and wings and looking somewhat reptilian does not a dragon make.