Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer's Curse

What I Knew Going In / What I Was Expecting

I feel like this one may be a cheat because I swear I saw Dragonheart before, and I've even listened to the We Hate Movies episode about it at least twice, but I have zero memory of its plot.  Something with Dennis Quaid and a dragon, right?  And they rob villages or something?

I'm under the impression that it involves a knight who either has the metaphorical heart of a dragon (i.e., he's strong and fierce) or a literal one (i.e., he can transform into a dragon at will) and he uses said dragon heart to save an innocent kingdom from the horrors of a terrible tyrant.

How you turn that into three movies, I have no idea.  I guess maybe the tyrant came back?  Or maybe there was a new threat from the village next door?

So let's pretend Dragonheart 2 is about, say, a plague that kills a bunch of people, and some religious zealots blame it on dragons, so they go on a crusade to kill anything dragon-related.  This puts Dragonheart in a bind, so he has to go on the run to escape them.  Maybe it ends on a cliffhanger or maybe it doesn't, but either way, it ends with Dragonheart living in peaceful solitude.

So, I'm going to guess that Dragonheart 3 is basically Dragonheart: The Next Generation.  Dragonheart finds another dude who has a dragon heart and helps him train his dragon powers to be a replacement Dragonheart to fight a new Evilking.

The Plot Summary

The story opens in Kingdomtown, a miserable city filled with corruption and poverty.  From what I can tell, there is no King - instead, the local government is reduced to a gang of Knights that punches people to collect tax money from them, and then spends that on building a wall to keep Kingdomtown separated from Savage Land.

I'm not sure I understand the rules of the Knight Gang, either.  I was under the impression that in actual European history, Knights were appointed by the landed aristocracy as guardians of their property, and there was a formal process that involved a lot of politics and ceremony.  But in Dragonheart 3, any jackass can be a Knight as long as they join the gang, pay their dues for awhile, and then get chosen by a half-lottery, half-bare-knuckle-boxing system.

So, anyway, the story is about Gareth, a peasant who is part of the Knight Gang.  Gareth is a squire and seems likely to be appointed a formal Knight soon.  Unfortunately, when he goes out to collect taxes, he shows mercy to a potter and ends up getting kicked out of the gang.  The potter offers Gareth a place to stay for the night out of gratitude, and over dinner they get to talking about dragons.

Dragons have a lot of mythological baggage in this universe.  Not only are they omens of good fortune, but their eggs are made of gold and they come from outer space.  So when a meteor strikes the forest just out of town, the potter immediately (and correctly) assumes it is a dragon coming to Earth.  He's psyched to go find it so he can take an egg and craft it into a pot that he'll be able to sell for a grand fortune. (Yes, this is the inciting incident of the movie.  "I want to make a fancy pot.")

But since he's old and infirm, he can't go traveling to the forest.  Gareth volunteers to go instead and leaps over Kingdomtown Wall, then ventures into Savage Land.  He finds a crater in the forest filled with dragon eggs, and through arbitrary nonsense ends up protecting them from mortal danger.  That's when Drago, the dragon who came to Earth, sees him and decides, "Gareth's a cool dude - look how he just selflessly saved my eggs."

Gareth is stabbed in his heart, so Drago does some dragon magic that saves him.  The magic links the two of them inextricably from that day forward: they now share the same heart, so whatever one of them experiences happens to the other.  Or something.

Then Gareth meets a pretty Savage Lady and falls in love with her.  He finds out that the Savages are actually cool people who have been persecuted by the Knight Gang, and the wall around Kingdomtown is causing great strife for their daily lives because of reasons.

Gareth and Drago do some dragon magic training and then decide to help the Savages defeat the Knight Gang and bring down the wall.  There's a big battle and the day is saved. The end.

What I Liked

I can't say the acting is terrific, but most of the cast gives it their all, so that's pretty cool.  I appreciate it when people try even when - or maybe especially when - they don't have to.

I also kinda liked the one scene where Gareth and Drago beat themselves up in order to inflict pain on the other using their psychic link.  It's a nifty idea and it's pretty much the only time in the movie that the whole "dragon heart" concept is actually referenced.

What I Didn't Like

Full disclosure: I'm not a fantasy fan.  I guess I can understand the appeal of it because there's something alluring about worlds where monsters and magic are real, and while that makes for some amazing games - tabletop or video - I just don't like the way it translates to films and novels.  There's something about the existence of magic that renders the plot moot.

"Hey, there's some evil guy threatening to destroy the world!"
"Okay, I'll just use this magic blast to kill him."
[Kills evil guy with magic fire ball.]
"Oh... huh.  Well, glad that's over with."

So I'm already predisposed to hate something like Dragonheart 3.  It's not really fair for me to review this movie - kinda like how David Duke shouldn't be reviewing Fruitvale Station.

(Aw, shit, did I just compare myself to David Duke?  I need to work on my metaphors.)

I'll skip over all my objections to the universe and the laws of the film and all that crap.  What I want to know is this: if you were an actual fan of the first Dragonheart, whatever it may have entailed, is Dragonheart 3 really the sort of follow-up you were hoping for?  I have a hard time imagining anybody liking this.

The characters are paper-thin archetypes except for the protagonist, who's one of those "self-obsessed ruffians with a heart of gold" types.  His story is of minor interest at the beginning and I was, admittedly, kinda curious to see where he'd go after he was kicked out of the Knight Gang.  But the few shits I gave about his drama disappeared the minute that dragon showed up.

From that moment on, it's just a bunch of cliches, one after another, strung together to a point where you don't even really need a plot.  They might as well just speak to the camera about their function in the plot and their internal conflict.

"Hello, I am Love Interest.  I do not like your demeanor, but I find you sexually attractive."
"Hello, Love Interest.  I likewise would like to take out my penis, but I am xenophobic and fear what you may do to it."
[Waits ten seconds.]
"Okay, I've gotten over my xenophobia.  We should get married to show that we're ready to take on the bad guy together."

I can't imagine this connects to the previous Dragonheart movies in any way - other than the presence of a dragon - and I can't see anything that would differentiate it from a sixth grade fanfic retelling of some minor subplot from Final Fantasy XIII, so what exactly is the appeal?  Who was this movie made for?  And did they like it?

Would I Recommend It?


What I Think the Prequels Were About

I guess each of them is just about some jackass who makes friends with a dragon and kills an evil king.  Whoop dee fucking doo.

My Pitch for Another One

Can we still do that idea where a guy can turn into a dragon?  That sounds fun.

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