A courageous but impetuous knight Alec returns to his home village after a call from his older brother Francis to care for their ailing father. The brothers’ reunion is short-lived as a terrified and half-crazed traveler Cid arrives to warn the villagers of a winged creature with the body of a dragon the head of a gruesome insect and deadly claws. Soon the beast descends upon the peaceful town. Alec draws his sword and the villagers arm themselves. Now the brothers must stand together to save their home and the people they love.
The above summary is from IMDB.com. I would normally use the back of the box for this, but in this case the box’s summary was misleading. I’ve left it here so that you can read it for yourself:
A brave Knight returns to his homeland to find a powerful dragon terrorizing his village. After many unsuccessful attempts to defeat the monster, he makes a sword which has magical powers. Equipped with a deadly weapon he embarks on a journey to destroy the dragon and save his homeland.
Runtime: 87 minutes
Director: Steven R. Monroe
Starring: Tahmoh Penikett, Kacey Barnfield, Rafaello Degruttola
MPAA Rating: R
Final Score: 5.5/10
Curse of the Dragon has some good ideas but mostly uses the same over-used fantasy tropes to get by and ends as a forgettable movie. Everything about this movie is average at best. This is not to put the movie down but to express sorrow for the waste of potential. The plot is very simple: A dragon is attacking the village and they must band together to save themselves. Beyond that there is nothing to distinguish it from other fantasy movies. The world is generic; medieval Europe with nothing fantastic about it other than the Jabberwocky, and that is wasted by being used as a stand in for a dragon, the lore behind it is never explored. Nothing is different in terms of story or plot, it just has a different name and design. The story itself follows a rational path and there are very few plot holes. Dialogue is functional without being heavily used for exposition, although some more modern phrases and idioms are used. There are some…interesting story choices that are put in to add something unique to the movie, but they are not what could be called good choices. This caused the world to be more of a backdrop to the characters and their struggles rather than a character itself.
The characters of the story are energetic and grounded, easily fitting into the world around them. Some are still tied to the typical clichés: the older mentor and the reckless brother, but the others are just people dragged into this situation. Anabel is the only main female character. She is shown to be caring and helpful to those around her. There are also times when she is called upon to do more than maybe she would want, but she doesn’t back down. The only thing that detracts from her character is that sometimes she seems to ignore the Jabberwocky and focuses more on Francis and their relationship. She doesn’t take many steps to help reach the goal of defending the village, only reacting to what happens. Francis is the same way but because he is the main character he gets development in other ways. He starts out reserved and not wanting to leave the village. By the end, his friends and family convince him, and the Jabberwocky forces his hand. It’s a small change to his character that ends up working out okay. His brother Alec on the other hand is nothing more than the typical fantasy hero, running out to save the day. His development is rushed and doesn’t change him or any of his decisions. The rest of the characters fill out the town without adding much. Death of some characters adds consequences to the Jabberwocky attack with a few being named characters. But without much development only a couple characters add conflict by themselves.
Francis is really the only character with internal conflict. As the character being focused on it makes sense, but the other characters are just pushed to the side. The movie didn’t concern themselves with character struggles, instead focusing on the Jabberwocky and…other things. The sword fights in Curse of the Dragon shows how most people view fantasy. There is no story reason for a sword fight to happen. But it’s a fantasy movie and it needs to be there. So, they’re put into the story by creating a cliché relationship between the two brothers and they not only feel forced but condescending as well. It doesn’t fit with the story at all. Which puts a bigger level of responsibility on the fights with the Jabberwocky. Not only do these fights not live up to the extra weight, they don’t hold up to the normal weight either. The CGI for the Jabberwocky itself is okay; it’s movements are fluid for the most part, but there are some issues. Where it fails is in its relationship to the world around it. The scenes where it interacts with the world are good, but it doesn’t feel present when people are around it. Whether this is because of perspective, the CGI, or something else is debatable. But what is true is that any tension is somewhat ruined by the feeling that the Jabberwocky isn’t there.
Curse of the Dragon passed on any chances to change things up and create something new. Reusing old fantasy tropes and set in a generic world, there isn’t anything special to recommend it. If you like traditional fantasy than this would fit under that category. But if you are looking for something unique or epic than you will probably be disappointed. While not a terrible movie, there are far better or just more exciting fantasy selections for you to choose from.
Plot: 1/2 – Simple plot with frustrating or dumb moments.
Characters: 1/2 – Some development goes on, but there are several missteps.
Conflict: 1/2 – The fights with the dragon are okay and the main character has some internal struggles.
Special Effects: 1/2 – Dragon has a great design with mediocre CGI.
Sets/Costumes: 1.5/2 – Simple designs and well made, but nothing that wows.