George & the Dragon (2003)

Reviewer: Carissa Horton


After completing a lengthy tour in the Crusades, young George (James Purfoy) returns home to England in the unlikely company of a Moor named Tarik (Michael Clarke Duncan) whom he had befriended after they mutually spared each other’s lives. The two part ways, only for Tarik to fall into trouble with a group of renegade marauders, all unknown to George. All George wants is to purchase a small section of land from King Edgar and settle down, much to his father’s displeasure. While Sir Robert (Paul Freeman) holds his son in high esteem and deep affection, he cannot imagine George giving up his adventurous lifestyle for the ownership of an acre of land, a wife, and two cows.


But George persists in his desire for a calm, steady lifestyle, and so he heads out from his father’s home with the intentions of finding the king and purchasing his future. Along the way, George encounters Garth (Patrick Swayze), a man who stops a tavern brawl which would have quickly escalated into George’s death. Garth, impressed by the young Knight, offers to arrange an audience with the king on George’s behalf. Upon arriving, George releases a dragon’s horn into the king’s possession, something which had belonged to his father and which the king recognized immediately from his long, enduring friendship with Sir Robert.


Earnestly, King Edgar implores George to undertake the task of finding his daughter, the Princess Luma (Piper Perabo), gone missing only a few days before her scheduled wedding to Garth. Welcoming any assistance, Garth eagerly accepts George’s company, along with his troupe of mounted soldiers. The king’s only stipulation is that they are accompanied by Elmendorf (Bill Treacher), an old family guardian and protector of the crown. They set out at once, are attacked by a group of ferocious Scotsmen, and even discover a young boy by the name of Wryn (Rollo Weeks) tagging along behind George. George obviously does not acquire his yearning for tranquility Trouble seems to follow heroes around, and he is no different. Many adventures befall the company; involving the finding of a dragon, an unusually stubborn princess, and the kindly friendship of both Father Bernard (Jean-Pierre Castaldi) and Mother Margaret (Joan Plowright).


George and the Dragon promises an exciting and unusual ride for the audience. Not ten minutes into the film, the audience is made aware of the satirical humor indulged by the writers and how this movie ends up a spoof in more than one sense. Lines are spoken that are generally only thought by the audience. Accidents occur, a knight is knocked out twice by a princess, and clean comedy runs rampant through the entire film. And yes, the comedy is very clean. The only possible issue a parent might have with this film for humor is the one instance of a man thrusting his hand into an enormous pile of dragon dung to tell its age. There is far more violence that might provide objections, but only minimal and somehow George manages to use the flat of his blade most of the time. A dragon and an egg are threatened with harm, a princess is threatened by two men with ill intentions, a boy is also threatened One fight seemingly ends with the beheading and gruesome death of a character. A man pulls back his blanket and the audience sees that his legs are gone below the knees. One character is stabbed and dies; another is eaten by a dragon (mostly unseen); and a third is locked in a burning building with a dragon.


The actors all perform remarkably well, even down to the smallest roles such as the ones given to Joan Plowright and Jean-Pierre Castaldi. The audience will be amazed with young Rollo Weeks and his enthusiasm for the role of Wryn. Many might remember him as being the brother of Honeysuckle Weeks, popular in both Foyle’s War and Lorna Doone. But to James Purfor, Patrick Swayze, and Piper Perabo go the spoils of this fun family flick. Their energetic connection and charisma together really created a dynamic film. Before Pirates of the Caribbean, the concept of a three way sword fight enters through the creativity behind George and the Dragon. Everyone performed energetically and excitedly, their exertion and loyalty to the film reflecting in the quality of an otherwise overlooked movie. While the quality of the CGI imaging is not on the same level as other films of its genre, such as Eragon or even Dragonheart, the dragons are still convincing


There is romance and danger and sarcastic humor pervading the film, enough to entertain an audience ranging from the smallest child to the eldest grown-up. Both my sister and I thought it the funniest fantasy flick we’d watched in a long time Just when you expect something to be serious, you find yourself bursting into guffaws of laughter. When you should feel sadness or horror, something happens to turn the situation around. This is a refreshingly original retelling of the story of Sir George and the dragon, one which I intend to watch again, and again, and again. If you give it a chance, George and the Dragon will rapidly become one of your family’s favorite movies.