Check out these must-see dragon flicks while you wait for the new Pete’s Dragon feature to arrive.
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Dragons! You can’t go wrong with adding a fire-breathing giant or a wise-eyed, snake-like guardian to a film or book. If you’ve ever wondered why dragons captivate people of all ages, the answer is simple: they’re fascinating. They are powerful, mystical, and sometimes even talkable dinosaurs. Filmmakers are to blame for a film’s dragon becoming boring if they don’t give it their all. Generation after generation has been inspired by and terrified by their tales, which have been told all throughout the world.
There should be a plethora of dragon flicks available by 2016. Despite the lack of dragon flicks, there are still a few gems worth checking out for any dragon fanatic. A live-action adaptation of Pete’s Dragon, another upcoming film featuring a dragon, has inspired us to compile a list of the 15 best dragon movies of all time.
Merlin is technically not a film. Due to its excellence and following, it should be included on our list of the best television programs of all time. According to some fans, the scene in which Nimue is sacrificed to a dragon is the best in the miniseries. Regardless of whether or not that is the case, the scenario brought dragons into people’s homes across the country during prime time television. It’s possible that Game of Thrones fans will become jaded with seeing Drogon on TV, but for many viewers, this initial “dragon sighting” was nothing short of amazing.
Merlin was nominated for six Emmy Awards and four Golden Globes with an 80 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its greatest achievement, though, was attracting so many new fantasy readers. Merlin served as a stepping stone to the inflow of fantasy productions in mainstream media, opening the way for shows like Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and Supernatural. It was full of drama, history, magic, and brilliant storytelling. The show’s sequel, Merlin’s Apprentice, may also be familiar to fantasy aficionados.
2. Flight of the Dragons
Animated dragon flicks are among of the best, so it makes sense. The grandeur, power, and even brutality of dragons haven’t always been feasible to depict on the big screen, especially when the technology wasn’t yet ready for it. Take, for example, The Flight of the Dragons. When it was released in 1982, the animated treat for all ages was a collaboration between John Ritter and James Earl Jones, as well as a selection of fantasy books like The Flight of Dragons and The Dragon and the George.
Newcomers to the film should not be put off by its lackluster cover art. Films like The Last Unicorn have a similar dramatic, beautiful, but also grittier fantasy flair. Although it’s a tragedy for the genre, it is a monument to how far filmmakers have come in terms of film-making technology that this type of picture is no longer produced.
It’s all fun and games until one of those virgins happens to be your own daughter. Cult status remains for 1981 picture Dragonslayer, despite Peter MacNicol’s distancing himself from it. More than one manner, Dragonslayer evokes the classic dragon myth and the story of David’s victory over Goliath due to its general weirdness, gloom, and “rescue the damsel in distress” motif. A lottery method for dragon sacrifices is included, which is still a common mtif in today’s world.
An unexpected amount of gore for its subject matter was incorporated into the film’s backbone. The film’s special effects may be considered obsolete and grim by today’s dragon aficionados, but at the time, it was a groundbreaking feat in cinematography and special effects, depicting a dragon on the big screen in a way that had never been seen before.
4. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Even while many Tolkien aficionados believe that no film will ever do the books justice, no one can dispute how fascinating CGI moments are in The Lord of the Rings.’ The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ swooping fall creatures filled cinemas around with shivers when first seen. Return of the King’s Nazgul scenes, on the other hand, may be argued to be even more captivating. Osgiliath’s first glimpse of Nazgul’s fallen animals while pursuing the One Ring is well worth mentioning, but the Witch King and Eowyn’s famous moment deserves more attention. Audiences could virtually smell and feel the odor and putrid breath of the beasts in the midst of their thunderous wing-swishing and ear-splitting shouts.
These creatures, also known as Nazgul birds and hell-hawks, were initially thought to resemble a pterosaur by Tolkien. Fallen creatures in Peter Jackson’s films were more like wyverns, with no beaks.
5. Pete’s Dragon
Pete’s Dragon, despite being one of the more cheerful dragon films, has a darker side. Pete’s youth wasn’t exactly pleasant, thanks to the mistreatment of a backwoods family and the fear of his dragon being slaughtered, maimed, and eaten as magical medicine. It’s still an upbeat film, and despite the low Rotten Tomatoes approval rating, families appreciated the song portions featuring Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, and Charlie Callas, who portrayed the funny animated dragon in the 1977 release.
Eliot became a beloved character among children and adults who had felt the loneliness that Pete was going through because of his kind demeanor, round hand-drawn features, and unwavering support for Pete. Two honorable mentions, The Reluctant Dragon and The Sword in the Stone have animation that is comparable to this one. The live-action version of Eliot, which will premiere in 2016, will have a furrier dragon.
There are few films that depict dragons as feminine. Only in Shrek did we get to see a talking donkey fall in love with a pink, eye-lashed, and lipsticked dragon. Dragon in Shrek, on the other hand, begins as an enemy to be defeated within the “damsel in distress” archetype and later transforms into a love-struck pun. In later Shrek films, Dragon develops a romantic interest of her own and even goes so far as to breed donkey-dragon hybrids with Donkey, the series’ sidekick.
Dragon was one of the earliest CGI-animated dragons, and it was a huge hit with the crowd. There have been three sequels to the 2001 film, and a fifth, scheduled out in 2019, is now in development. Improved special effects allowed the dragon to be used as a terrible beast once more in Shrek Forever After’s time-warp. After the success of Shrek, DreamWorks Animation rose to prominence, and the position of Dragon, among the other fairy tale creatures, played a significant role in that rise.
When Walt Disney Pictures released Maleficent in 2014, Angelina Jolie took on one of the world’s most infamous cinematic villains in a fresh manner. However, Diaval, Maleficent’s loyal servant, takes the form of dragon in this film rather than the eponymous fairy herself. Despite this, Maleficent, Diaval’s gorgeous wings and magic make this picture one of the best modern dragon films. With a dragon and magic at every turn, it’s a must-read for fantasy fans. With a lady leading the charge, the film inspired little girls worldwide to dress up like Maleficent and carry around their favorite stuffed ravens for trick-or-treats and show and tell.
Here, Sleeping Beauty is a worthy mention. Sleeping Beauty’s animated dragon attack is one of the most spectacular animation scenes, predating contemporary CGI effects—a really exciting scene for its day and most possibly the best part in the film.
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the next installment in the Harry Potter film series, will disappoint those who haven’t read the novels (not to mention the rest of the books). The dragon battle is a major part of the Triwizard Tournament, but readers encounter a variety of dragons in the novel. A fan favorite, Charlie Weasley, who was absent from the films but adored by the Potter community, makes an appearance as well. There are so many magnificent creatures in Goblet of Fire, but the dragon scenes are so popular that there is even a dragon ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
When it comes to dragons, the Harry Potter universe isn’t limited to just one book or film. Rubeus Hagrid raised a dragon from an egg in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, whereas Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows featured a scene where Harry, Ron, and Hermione rode a Ukrainian Ironbelly.
For many fantasy film fans, Willow was one of the first movies they’d ever seen. A cheapKing Kong costume and an old-fashioned two-headed dragon may not be up to today’s standards, but they nonetheless managed to enthrall many who fell in love with it back in 1988. When Willow kicked a two-headed dragon into a moat, fans were enthralled, paving the way for more realistic dragons in today’s films..
Willow, like many fantasy films, has a sizable following despite its lack of commercial success. It’s still popular today because of its strange creatures and Warwick Davis’s reluctant but steadfast bravery. When asked about a prospective sequel, filmmaker Ron Howard has stated that “never say never” when it comes to the idea.
10. Reign of Fire
Reign of Fire, a 2002 sci-fi dragon tale set in the future, is a particularly thrilling twist on the fantasy genre. While the picture was enjoyable, it also put the entire human species at risk through dragon attacks, which was a novel means of threatening the entire human race at the time.
For a 21st century film, the premise seems a little out there, but Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Gerard Butler pulled it off to the best of their abilities. Fantasy fans appreciated Bale’s bravery, Butler’s selflessness and McConaughey’s wide-eyed craziness, even though critics didn’t think it was very good. Seeing a battle between dragons and humans in a live-action film was a unique and satisfying experience. The film’s box office numbers indicate a modest level of success, and it was adapted into a video game after winning the Festival de Cine de Sitges Award and being nominated for a Saturn Award.
11. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
It is widely agreed that Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Smaug in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movie is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the flicks. While the remainder of the movie was enjoyable, the dragon’s amazing effects and arrogant character were enough to make it worthwhile. Dragon’s desire for money and revenge may be felt in the film. When Smaug’s keen reptilian features combine with his clever golden eyes and velvety-turned-murderous voice, the result is a terrible, malevolent creature like the world has never seen. In many of the best dragon movies, Smaug, the best modern depiction of a dragon ever seen, was inspired by the other best dragons.
Critically acclaimed and financially successful, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug raked in over $958,000,000. Despite the fact that many fans claim to prefer The Two Towers and The Fellowship of the Ring, this film grossed more money than both.
12. Spirited Away
There is a serious lack of Asian dragon-themed movies. Haku, the River Spirit in Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away, is the best depiction of an Asian dragon in film. His ambition for power and his desire to be a nice person collide in Haku like many Miyazaki characters. Chihiro’s protagonist, a dragon named Yubaba, commands him to defend her as he obeys his mistress’s orders. In the end, it is Chihiro’s story and she is the one who saves them both.
Spirited Away, like most of Miyazaki’s films, is delightfully delicious, putting the one-note, two-dimensional characters in other animated films to shame.
Critics and audiences alike have given the picture high marks, indicating that it has the ability to entertain and enthrall. It has grossed more than $289 million worldwide and quickly became the highest-grossing film in the history of Japanese cinema.
13. How to Train Your Dragon
For the most part, fans don’t like movies that wildly differ from their source material, which is why some of them don’t make the cut on this list. Possibly the best modern dragon film is How to Train Your Dragon. An complete series of goods, video games, television shows, and sequels were created when the 2010 DreamworksAnimation film received the highest possible rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It’s more than just a box office hit for the film. How to Train Your Dragon is a funny and heartwarming tale of a nobody who rises to prominence in a small town thanks to his compassion and commitment. Its dragons are awe-inspiring and even rival Pokemon as “pets” in some circles. Dragon star Toothless, who possesses both classic and groundbreaking new characteristics including cat and dog-like behavior, has become one of the most sought-after creatures on Earth, even earning his own Build-A-Bear.
14. The Neverending Story
Although Falcor is based on a Chinese dragon rather than a European one, he is remembered by viewers as a large, sparkly puppy that adored children and not for breakfast. The Leslie Knope of dragons, this soaring, smiling luck dragon was so enthusiastic about Atreyu’s journey in The Neverending Story that he might as well be known as a dragon. The popularity of Wolfgang Peterson’s film has remained consistent since 1984, with parents bringing their children to see it every year as a reminder of their own childhoods. His joyous inclusion in a relatively innocent vengeance plot against Bastian’s bullies also sealed his place in the hearts of children and adults alike.
David Lowery, who plays Eliot in the upcoming Pete’s Dragon sequel, may have drawn inspiration from Falcor’s appearance when creating his new Eliot. Both Falcor and Toothless come to mind when one thinks of Eliot’s cat-like looks.
Dragonheart tells the story of Draco, a dragon who risked his life to save the life of a human prince. Draco lost his trust in humanity after his common heart was used by a wicked despot. Draco, played by Sean Connery, quickly became a fan favorite when he partnered with Dennis Quaid’s cunning, dragon-slaying ex-knight, Draco. Even though the film ended in sorrow, it secured a better world for the kingdom and made Draco a star among his fellow dragons. Although the film’s screenplay may have been deemed “boring” by some critics, no one could deny the film’s visual appeal. It has also inspired a video game and two sequels since its release.
If you’re looking for one of the best dragon movies of all time, you can’t go wrong with Dragonheart’s original story of two people deceiving a community out of their money and the first truly realistic modern-day representation of an actual dragon.