Dragons are perhaps the most feared, and almost certainly the most spectacular, of mythical creatures. So it’s no surprise they’ve often featured in movies.
Recent incarnations include the awe-inspiring dragons in TV’s Game of Thrones and cinema’s Hobbit films, and Starburst listed 10 of the best in this 2019 feature.
Impressive as those blockbusters are, some lower-budget productions have also provided some very entertaining appearances by those fire-breathing, winged monsters.
In no particular order, here are three of my favourites, which might have passed you by:
1. Merlin and the War of the Dragons (2008):
My ‘elevator pitch’ for this would be “A low-budget Welsh Game of Thrones without the sex”. Dragons invade ancient Britain, and Merlin (Simon Lloyd-Roberts) leads the efforts to defeat them.
There’s a lot to love about this Asylum production, including some gritty Welsh locations, a surprising appearance by veteran German actor Jürgen Prochnow (Das Boot; Dune; The English Patient); and the film debut of Carys Eleri (a good friend of this blog) as Lady Viviane.
2. Age of the Dragons (2011):
This one is even easier to summarise: it’s Moby Dick, but with a dragon instead of a whale. Danny Glover plays Ahab, captain of a land ship in some medieval-type land, leading a hunt for dragons – but especially the great white dragon that left him scarred since he was a young man, and which killed his sister.
I love the idea of adapting Melville’s classic into a mythical Middle Ages, and although the critics didn’t like it, I think it’s a very enjoyable movie. The cast also includes Vinnie Jones and Sofia Pernas.
3. The Last Dragon (2004):
Not to be confused with the 1985 martial arts comedy musical of the same name, this film is also known as Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real or Dragons’ World.
It’s a fictional documentary, imagining that dragons were real, and charting their evolution from the cretacious period to the 15th century.
A fascinating idea, and very well executed, the CGI is impressive enough to suspend your disbelief – perhaps helped by the fact that we’d really love it if dragons had actually existed.
You can see the whole film here.
If you like monster movies, you might be interested in this post about a Hammer Films timeline.