DragonHeart (Blu-ray) (1996)
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Rob Cohen|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
German dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
French dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Italian dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Spanish dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Portuguese dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Japanese dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
†††† Bowen (Dennis Quaid) is a knight of the Old Code, tasked by Queen Aislinn (Julie Christie) to tutor her son Prince Einon in the old ways of duty and honour, as well as weapons. When the King is killed attacking a village, Einon is badly wounded in the heart. To save Einonís life, the Queen takes him into a dragonís lair where he is given a priceless gift - part of the dragonís heart.
†††† As King, Einon (David Thewlis) is cruel, tyrannical and compassionless, ignoring the codes he had been taught by Bowen. Bowen believes that the heart of the dragon had corrupted Einon; disillusioned, he abandons the kingdom, becoming a hunter and slayer of dragons, his feats of valour chronicled in florid verse by Father Gilbert of Glockenspur (Pete Postlethwaite) until there is only one dragon left alive, Draco (voiced by Sean Connery). After fighting to a stalemate, Bowen and Draco form an alliance, using Draco to fleece poor villagers of their few savings. But when they inadvertently save village girl Kara (Dina Meyer), Bowen is drawn to her and the plight of the people under Einonís malevolent rule. Together, they challenge Einon and his evil forces.
†††† DragonHeart, directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious (2001)), is a very sentimental medieval action / romance with an ending that is so soppy, it is hard to accept on any level. The acting generally is not inspiring, with Dina Meyer wooden and her ďromanceĒ with Quaid lacking any spark. Indeed, Quaid is not very interesting either, but the film is helped by a fine, funny performance by Pete Postlethwaite and of course the magisterial voice of Connery as Draco lends an incredible gravitas to the entire film. The CGI dragon was state of the art in 1996, and I think it still looks impressive today. Indeed, in many films now CGI is badly overused, and it is a pleasure to see in DragonHeart it used to such good effect to tell the story and not to manipulate every scene. The sequence in Avalon, with the rain teeming around Bowen and Draco and bouncing off the dragonís scales, is quite beautifully done.
†††† The film has a lot more than a good CGI dragon going for it. It is beautifully shot in widescreen in the castles, forests and hills of Slovakia by cinematographer David Eggby (whose first film was the original Mad Max (1979)) and it has a rousing score courtesy of composer Randy Edelman with themes that resonate: I love the hero moment when Draco and Bowen are revealed to the villagers on the horizon with the main theme swelling up. The film also has a great sense of humour and is frequently droll and funny; when Draco surfaces and sees sheep on the bank, Conneryís smooth ďhelloĒ is priceless, however my own favourite is when the water in the river is too shallow to allow the dragon to sink below the surface when they are trying to con some villagers.
†††† DragonHeart is a guilty pleasure. It is soppy and sentimental, the ending silly, and the CGI dragon may not live up to recent standards. Yet, the film is funny, spectacular looking due to Eastern European locations and, of course, it has the magisterial voice of Sean Connery who makes a fabulous dragon. Count me guilty, but I like DragonHeart and this Blu-ray, especially the sound design, is a great way to revisit the film.
†††† The Blu-ray of DragonHeart is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p, using the VC-1 code. This is the original theatrical ratio.
†††† This is an improvement over the SD. The print looks beautiful and sharp, with Bowenís armour or the dragonís scales finely detailed. Colours are natural, except where enhanced intentionally, such as in the dragonís cave near the start of the film, or in Avalon, the widescreen vistas stunning. Skin tones are fine, blacks solid, shadow detail good and contrast and brightness consistent.
†††† There were no marks on the print, the only issue I noted was occasional ghosting with movement, such as 54:01 and 75:36 but these were brief.
†††† Subtitles are available in a huge range of European and Asian languages, including English for the Hearing Impaired.
†††† The default audio is English DTS MA HD 5.1 although dubs in a host of other languages are available in DTS 5.1, all at a robust 768 Kbps. I listened only to the English audio and it is fabulous.
†††† DragonHeart on DVD had an impressive sound design, and this it even more special on this Blu-ray. The sequence where the dragon circles a riding Bowen while they talk, with the voices and flapping of wings rotating around the sound stage, has always been one to show off your audio system, and it does not disappoint. Elsewhere, the surrounds are nearly always active with wings, dragon feet, hooves, weather and music and ambient sound. There is a good range of panning effects in battle, but panning is used at other times as well. However, it is not overdone and provides a good, balanced enveloping feel. Dialogue was clear and easy to understand. The sub-woofer added bass to the thud of horses, the sounds of battle and the music.
†††† Lip synchronisation was fine throughout.
†††† The score by Randy Edelman is a wonderful adjunct to the visuals. It is rousing, sweeping and intense, with a number of memorable themes that resonate from the sound mix. It hard to imagine the film without it.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† Nothing, not even a trailer.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
†††† The Region B UK release is the same as ours. However, the Region Free US Blu-ray contains a number of the special features that were available on the previous Region 4 DVD Collectorís Edition, including the good commentary by director Rob Cohen, a decent making of (104:43), outtakes (2:30) and trailers. That is therefore the best available release of the film and we should feel left out!
†††† DragonHeart is a guilty pleasure. It is soppy and sentimental, the ending silly, and the CGI dragon may not live up to recent standards. Yet, the film is funny, spectacular looking due to the Eastern European locations and, of course, it has the magisterial voice of Sean Connery, who makes a fabulous dragon.
†††† On Blu-ray DragonHeart looks good and sounds great so is a great way to revisit the film. Pity about the missing extras; gone to the stars with the last dragon.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|