DragonHeart: New Beginning, A (1999)

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Released 7-Feb-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Trailer-2
Web Links
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 80:32
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Doug Lefler
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Chris Masterson
Harry Van Gorkum
Rona Figueroa
Matt Hickey
Henry O
Tom Burke
Ken Shorter
John Woodnutt
Robbie Benson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Mark McKenzie


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German
Dutch
Spanish
Italian
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I'll start with the discouraging bit: DragonHeart: A New Beginning looks like it was intended to be a pilot for a TV series. Despite this, it is an acceptable "rainy Saturday afternoon" movie, with some nice special effects. If you have seen the original movie, then you've seen pretty much all the special effects, though. They didn't break the budget shopping for big-name actors - the only name I recognized was Chris Masterson, and I think his only big role was Robin in the Batman movies. I've seen Henry O in supporting roles in a number of movies, but I've never seen him in a lead.

    This movie is set many years after the original DragonHeart. There is one dragon left in the world; this dragon hatched from an egg found in the cave of Draco (the dragon in the original movie). I'm not letting out any secrets - all of this is revealed in a (somewhat irritating) narration over the opening credits. The dragon is kept in a cellar in a monastery, because of fear over a prophecy that the world will be doomed by a dragon's heart when a twin-tailed comet is in the sky. Also in the monastery is an orphan stable boy, called Geoff (on the cover), pronounced "Joff" (in the movie). Geoff is supposed to be the appealing plucky young lad who becomes a hero - I found him rather irritating, but I'm unsure if that was because of Chris Masterson's overacting, or the dreadful lines he was given.

    Apart from the callow youth (Geoff) and naive dragon (Drake), the plot has some interesting ingredients: a villainous lord plotting to overthrow the king, a mysterious old man and youth from the Orient come to "test the dragon", an arrogant upper-class youth to confront Geoff, a wise old monk and a foolish young one... Shari Goodhartz stirs these ingredients together, and comes up with a run-of-the-mill plot with a few twists. I was amused to see that Patrick Read Johnson and Charles Edward Pogue are credited with creating the characters, while Shari Goodhartz is credited with the story. I won't give away any of the story, because the twists are one of the few things that make this movie worth seeing.

    This is a "family" movie: no sex, no drugs, no adult themes, and only a bit of violence. I checked (twice) to see if it was a Disney effort - it felt like one.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I hate saying it, but it remains true - good movies get bad transfers, and vice versa. This is a mediocre movie with a brilliant transfer. I had to look very hard indeed to find any flaws in the video.

    The video is presented in standard 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. As far as I can determine, this movie was made for TV, so this is understandable.

    The picture is razor sharp, shows excellent shadow detail, and no noise. There is no edge enhancement to be seen. There are shots with dust dancing in the air that demonstrate how sharp the image is.

    There is some grain to be seen in the image, such as a touch of grain in the opening scene, and again at 60:00 and 76:50. The grain is hardly noticeable, though.

    The colours are good. At times it appeared that the colour of the film was a little muted in contrast to the colour of Drake, but that may have been an illusion.

    There were no visible MPEG or film artefacts, except for one interesting effect. The credits rolling at the end of the film appear to ripple gently, due to an unfortunate interaction between the font size, pixel size, and roll rate. It is not hideous, but it is a bit distracting.

    The disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change at 57:50. It is placed at the start of a new scene, with no one visible, so it is not obvious - nice piece of work.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    One thing I have to say: the foley person got a bit lazy on this movie - a dragon should not sound like a lion.

    There are five soundtracks, all Dolby Digital 5.1, in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. I listened to the English soundtrack, but I sampled all of the others. I was a little confused at the start of the disc, which has a language menu which offers two additional language options: Dutch and Swedish. It turns out that choosing one of these presents a copyright notice in that language, then the menu (also in that language), but then they run the English soundtrack with appropriate subtitles.

    Dialogue was clear and easily understood at all times, except for a word or two in the voice-over at the start and end of the movie. There were no sync problems.

    The musical score was by Mark McKenzie, derived from the original DragonHeart theme by Randy Edelman. There was nothing particular wrong with the music, but it was quite forgettable. The song over the closing credits is sung by the female lead (Rona Figueroa) - she has quite a good voice for an actor.

    Despite this being a 5.1 soundtrack, I don't believe I heard my surround speakers operating at all. The subwoofer was used to support the soundtrack, but quite unobtrusively.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The only extras on this disc are two trailers, one for the original movie DragonHeart, and one for this movie - this is about as basic as you can get.

Menu

    The menu is basic, but functional. Each panel has what looks like a painting of a scene from the movie as its background. The menus are static, and there is no sound. The menu entries are:

Trailer - DragonHeart

    This is probably one of the trailers made specifically for TV. It is 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and runs for 1:55. It is a little grainy, but perfectly acceptable. Strangely, at the end of this trailer you are returned to the main menu, rather than the Trailers menu - perhaps they were trying to discourage you from viewing the second trailer?

 Trailer - DragonHeart - A New Beginning

    A reasonable trailer. It is 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and runs for 2 minutes. At the end of this trailer you are returned to the Trailers menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 and R4 versions appear to be identical, which tips the scale our way due to the superiority of PAL over NTSC.

Summary

    This is not a great movie. It is a pleasant enough piece that might do well to while away some time on a rainy afternoon.

    The video quality is excellent, nearly reference quality.

    The audio quality is very good, if a bit lacking in surround.

    The extras are basic.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, March 25, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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