Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
on 28 September 2003
Another Summer movie, another rip-off. This adheres blindly to the Bruckheimer rob-'em-blind formula - come up with a cool concept (check), a great poster (check), a cool cast (not quite, but at least Bale tries), shoot it entirely through an unattractive unnatural lens filter that bleeds out selected colours (triple check), pay yourself a load of money and then resolutely refuse to deliver because by the time they find out that there are no dragons in the film, they'll have already handed over their cash. This flick is the Holy Grail of false advertising.
Well, there are dragons - in extreme long shot for a few frames at a time - but put end-to-end, their total footage is barely two minutes. Dragons destroy the world! So what do we see? Newspaper headlines (astonishingly, there are no dragons at all in the end-of-civilisation-as-we-know-it montage). Skydivers attack dragon! So what do we see? A lot of cranked-up shots of clouds. Dragon attacks castle! So what do we see? A couple of brief long shots before cutting to people running around in cellars while the hero rides back just in time to see it leaving. Are you detecting a pattern here?
Instead, we get a non-script with a great back story (which would have made a much better film and has some pretty decent ideas in it) shot in a grotty disinterested fashion by a director who really doesn't seem to want to make a dragon movie at all. And as for the action scenes - what action scenes? Where the money went is anybody's guess, because it sure ain't on the screen: rarely has anyone spent so much money making a movie look so cheap. And what's with the sound mix? Between the cast's mumbling and the 'atmospherics,' half the dialogue was almost completely inaudible.
This could have been one of the coolest dragon flicks ever, but Bowman and co have ruined it for anyone else in the business with this dull, lifeless fire extinguisher of a movie. Still, maybe it's my own fault for ignoring the fact that Gerard Butler was in it - his presence in a movie is as much a guarantee of a stinker as Virginia Madsen's was in the 80s.
See 'Dragonslayer' or even 'Dragonheart' instead - dragon movies which actually have dragons in them. If only this one could claim the same.
The DVD offers a so-so package that's still better than the film (despite some excessive edge enhancement that gives characters a constant halo), although only one of the featurettes offers more than promo guff, while the interview with the curiously self-satisfied director makes you wonder if he's talking about another movie. Personally, I'd really, really like my money back.