Phil Hubbs (phubbs1)UK
Phil's Recent Reviews
I remember this coming out in 1996 and thinking they had just ripped off the film title from 'Braveheart' which came out the year before or 'Thunderheart'...just saying.
So an evil King gets killed by a small bunch of rebellious peasants. His ugly ginger son takes his place but also gets wounded so he's taken by good knight Quaid to a Scottish dragon which can heal humans apparently. He is healed and made to promise he will be good unlike his father, well he lies and turns out even worse, didn't see that coming huh. This angers Quaid as he feels the dragon twisted the young Kings heart so he vows revenge on all dragons.
The catch is that further down the line Quaid's knight realises that a worth while deal can be struck with the dragon for monetary gain. So they begin a partnership where the dragon scares the poor dumb peasants and Quaid rides in and saves them...for a few pieces of gold.
So the film is set in olde England and does have a reasonable realistic approach in that sense, or at least they try. Problem being the film doesn't look anything like England but in fact looks exactly like where they shot it, eastern Europe. I did get the feeling that most of the budget for this film was used on creating the CGI dragon as everything else looks pretty poor really. This King only seems to be King of a small valley, there is no other mention of the rest of England or any other people outside this valley. His castle is pokey, he doesn't seem to have many troops, there seems to be more peasants than troops or even buildings to house them, everyone wears the same outfits all the time, the wigs are all obvious and hilariously bad and the film keeps circling around the same grassy/rocky areas over and over.
The effects at the time were big, they were big time effects believe me, this film garnered much attention because of its CGI dragon. Looking back now its nicely done on the whole but obviously with time the cracks are now evident and the CGI shines through. There are some nice shots when 'Draco' is wet and when he breathes fire, plus the flying sequences are quite good but when he chats with humans it becomes a bit iffy. And yes Draco is his name, draco the dragon, surely they could come up with something a bit more original?.
The idea of a knight and a dragon teaming up for a living during the medieval period is a good one but it doesn't quite feel fully serviced here. We only get a very very bare bones look at other peasants, other villages and how they go about this agreement. No sooner have we seen one badly interpreted village scam the plot goes off down this rebellion route against the evil young King. We then get a very very very average looking final battle sequence against...I dunno, about 50 horseback troops and about 100 peasants who were conveniently trained up in the art of war not more than a few hours before.
There isn't really any decent lore in this film either, nothing on dragons much. The fact Draco can speak is hugely important I would of thought, it shows he is an intelligent beast, not just a dumb killing machine, surely humans could learn a great deal from this creature. I also want to know if all dragons can speak in this universe, they clearly have magic powers and possible immortality with a human, sheesh there is loads to discover here but we get nothing!. Why on earth would people wanna kill all these super intelligent sentient beings off?!!.
It really does all feel a bit low rent...accept for the dragon. In fact the dragon is the best thing in the film really, Quaid looks bad in his blonde wig, Dina Meyer looks ridiculous in her peasant garb, Isaacs is wasted, Postlethwaite is also wasted but Thewlis is actually a decent slimy King...in a bad ginger wig. The choice of Connery as Draco is a good one, no complaints there, in fact its perfect.
A fun cheerful fantasy with a surprisingly stirring orchestral score no doubt, but looking back its all very hokey and quite poorly made if you look closer. The selling point is Draco obviously and without him I think this would have been a disaster. Its a B-movie with an A grade effect in it basically.
So this is a remake of a Canadian comedy that was only made in 2011! not only that but both films are directed by the same man, shouldn't go wrong then really should it. Never seen or heard of the original film 'Starbuck' so I can't compare but in all honesty the idea of Vince Vaughn being the father of 533 kids does raise a smirk. The problem being they all wanna know him but he doesn't wanna get involved with them. Just looking at the films poster you could easily think this will be another typical crass Vaughn comedy.
Surprise surprise it isn't! the story is actually played with a lot of heart and semi realism giving the emotional moments more gravitas. Lets not get carried away here this is no hardcore drama, but scenes where Vaughn's character follows some of his now grown up children to see what they get up too are nicely done. Its these sequences which do shine and make the film a bit more interesting, seeing Vaughn pretend to be a guardian angel type and assist his teen offspring in times of need. Naturally these teens are a nice rounded PC bunch as you would expect but I can't deny watching him take care of the handicapped boy does tug at the old heart strings.
Up to that point nothing really happens and after that point it all goes down hill. The story does feel somewhat boxed in to me, nothing much to do, you get a whiff of this by the fact that a lot of the film is merely watching Vaughn perform random secret acts of kindness for some members of his new large family. I was starting to wonder if this was all we were gonna see.
Of course it isn't but what we get is kinda...patchy. Vaughn's character has money issues and is basically a bit of a loser in this film. He owes money to some thugs which isn't really expanded much, some of his new adopted kids come and go through out the film as does his pregnant wife and his real family background felt a little underused. I'm sure they could of used his father (cheap Ben Kingsley knock off) and their family butcher store to better use with the thugs.
So on one hand we do get a semi sensible slightly emotional real life rom-com type affair with Vaughn trying some real acting. But on the other hand the film is rather dull, hard pressed for ideas, not overly funny, not overly weepy and the finale is so predictable. While I appreciate Vaughn trying to be a genuine actor for once it just doesn't feel right, he's not bad as such but the guy needs to make zany comedies, its his forte. All the time here I'm just waiting for him to whip out some wise cracks and be funny, instead we get a more grown up approach.
One of those films that feels pointless really, neither one thing or the other and maybe miscasting Vaughn in the main role. The whole story and its characters also felt a bit undeveloped and I found myself not really caring about any of them. It starts off quite well but quickly becomes a random thrown together collage of sentimental Hallmark moments which all builds up to the totally predictable happy ending.
Phil's Favorite Movies
The predator is the greatest alien created, Stan Winston is a genius, the best 80's, adrenaline, testosterone, muscle filled action man flick ever with one of the best character actor line ups since 'Con Air' plus the effects still look better than most modern films today! The Austrian Oaks best flick for me by far and possibly my all time favourite film. 'I ain't got time to bleed'.
Another Stan Winston creation with Cameron direction, genius. State of the badass art! this film rocks on every level, the only downer for me is the fact that you never really saw hords of aliens, some would say its more powerful that way but I think it would have been more tense and savage. Its still the perfect film with the perfect ensemble cast, amazing tension, fantastic hands on effects, realistic working sci-fi, dark, gritty...hell I don't even really need to go on about it, awesometastic sequel!