Dragonheart: A New Beginning (2000)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

 

Many generations have passed since Draco gave his life to end the tyrannical reign of Einon, and Bowen has passed into the afterlife. The Kingdom is now under the command of a senile ruler whose right hand is the handsome, persuasive, and often vile Lord Osric (Harry Van Gorkum). Not far from the castle walls is the monastery, where young Geoff (Christopher Masterson) serves willingly the abbot. Befriended by a novice of the monastery, his task of cleaning the stable is often a curtain for his training exercises. But born to a life of poverty, he can only dream of knighthood.

  

Unknown to Geoff -- and even the king -- before Bowen's death, he was sent to the cave of Draco to retrieve a secret the dragon had kept hidden: an egg. Giving it into the care of the Father Abbot, this baby dragon is kept cloistered away in the dungeons below, living out his life surrounded by flickering candlelight and a library of knowledge. One of the brothers has been given the task of feeding him, and one day Geoff senses something amiss. Snatching the key, he follows the dark path downward, attracted by the sight of Bowen's sword, laying in the cavern below. The pair inevitably meet and become secret friends. Drake is still young, not fully grown, unable to fly or breathe fire. In him Geoff finds a true confident and the pair become almost inseparable. In the meantime, a gnarled old man and his ward have come from the Orient, sensing the approaching of the two-tailed comet spoken of in prophecy. On the night it passes a great evil will seize control of the North through the last living dragon's heart. The monks, who have long known of this prophecy, keep Drake's existence a secret and the travelers are sent on their way by Lord Osric. 

 

Remaining unconvinced, they linger in the countryside and catch a glimpse of Drake on one of his rare excursions out of the monastery. Osric has also discovered the dragon's presence and demands he become protector of the realm, with Geoff as his first knight. The boy is flattered, the dragon naive, and the night of the two-tailed comet is fast approaching. There will be a dramatic, climatic clash of the forces of good and evil... and the fate of the dragons will forever be decided. Overall the critics have deemed this sequel to the box-office success a complete failure, but it's a cute and unpredictable film aimed toward children. Unlike most made-for-video sequels, A New Beginning actually has a somewhat believable premise and a twist ending. It manages to be both fun and meant for kids without straying into corny special effects or daft dialogue. True fans of the original may be a bit put off by the obvious alteration in the age-group of this film but nevertheless the film has good special effects and some rather endearing moments... like when they attempt to teach Drake to blow ice. The violence is much more below-the-screen and less graphic than the original, although there's a great deal of martial arts on the part of our two Oriental visitors, who eventually play a large role in the revelation of the true fate of the dragons. One somewhat creepy visual includes a dragon morphing from another life form and the sight of a shriveled heart.

  

Violence aside, there's truly nothing else offensive about the production except for a minor mention of a monk out of his mind running around in his underclothes for a scene or two. There's also some mythology, just as in the first film, but it's rather subdued and seeing as the setting is a monastery, doesn't go overly against Christian doctrine. The biggest flaw in the production aside from some at times rather stilted acting is the absence of Sean Connery. His Draco was a lovable yet terrifying, realistic personification of what many of us believe dragons were like. Robby Benson, who does the voice of Drake, just doesn't have the presence; his dragon is younger and less charismatic. The first film towers above the sequel, both in script and character development; but this film isn't entirely out of the equation. The best way of looking at it is not as a sequel but a dragon fairy tale for the younger generation somewhat less dark than its predecessor.