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Blu-ray Review: DRAGONHEART: VENGEANCE

Feb 23 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Dragonheart: Vengeance is the fifth installment in the popular fantasy film franchise. Drago the dragon (from the fourth film, Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire) has sent the seven dragons he raised out across the 7 seas to protect the various lands of Britannia. One of these dragons, Siveth (Helena Bonham Carter), landed in the war-torn kingdom of Wallachia, and tried to help King Razvan (Arturo Muselli) defend his land. However, when the king was wounded and she refused to share half her heart to heal him, the King banished Siveth, forcing her to live in exclusion.

Several decades have passed, and the kingdom is once again stricken by famine and war. Young farmer Lukas (Jack Kane) is out tending to his crops when he hears screaming from his home. He races back to the farmhouse to discover that his family has been murdered by a band of marauders. This band of mercenaries—The Bear (Ross O’Hennessy), The Wolf (Richard Ashton), The Snake (Carolina Carlsson) and The Scorpion (Tam Williams)—has been sacking village after village, and they set Lukas’ home ablaze before headed off to their next destination. Lukas gathers his few remaining belongings, and heads out on a mission of revenge. He makes his way to the kingdom to sell his cattle in order to hire a hunter to help him track down the four people who killed his family. Lukas is a bit naive and inexperienced in matters of vengeance, and folks try to take advantage of him. However, one brave, honest man named Darius (Joseph Millson) steps in to offer his services. Darius is an odd fellow, whom Lukas often sees talking to birds, worms, and other animals. As they head out on their quest, the two seek out Siveth in hopes that she can assist them in their mission. When they do find the dragon, she reluctantly agrees to join their quest, but cautions Lukas about seeking vengeance, and warns him that revenge will not heal the pain he feels over his loss, and will only make matters worse.

Despite opening with Lukas’ family being murdered (in a non-graphic way), Dragonheart: Vengeance actually turns out to be a really fun, somewhat family-friendly fantasy adventure film with lots of humor and action. When Darius first agrees to help Lukas, he teaches him how to wield a sword, and this leads to some pretty exciting swashbuckling scenes later on as the pair eventually take on each of the marauders. Every scene with violence is also accompanied with quips and one-liners, more along the lines of a Pirates of the Caribbean film. There is also a bit of a love story. When Lukas first goes to town, he sees Oana (Fabienne Piolini-Castle), a young healer-in-training, and is immediately smitten with her.

Dragonheart: Vengeance is the first film in the franchise to include a female dragon, which provides a new twist. Instead of turning into water or a rock, female dragons can disguise themselves as other animals, so there are a lot of fun moments as Siveth becomes a cat, dog, mouse, horse, etc. Siveth also breaths ice instead of the typical fire. This helps keep the violence less graphic—when enemies lose limbs due to being frozen/knocked off, it’s bloodless, and they get right back up and continue on, just with one less arm.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film. It provides a light action/adventure with some really fun characters and dynamics. The film also includes the same delightful score from the original film (and countless other inspirational film trailers since). If I had one complaint, it’s that Lukas never really seems that sad or upset over the loss of his family. He never screams or breaks down and cries. In fact, he remains upbeat and cheery the entire time, with his seeking of vengeance seeming more of an obligation/task than something coming from deep inside of his heart. However, whatever his motivation, it is believable enough to kick off the fun adventure.

Universal’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. The picture looks bright and detailed, capturing the beauty of the medieval countryside. The effects look quite believable—there was only one scene with the dragon where the CGI was a little noticeable—otherwise, Siveth felt quite real. The film’s audio track provides clear dialogue, showcases the film’s fantastic score, and does a nice job of giving the viewer an immersive viewing experience.

The Blu-ray release includes both a Blu-ray disc and a DVD disc packed in standard HD keepcase with a slipcover, and contains an insert with a code to redeem for an HD Movies Anywhere digital copy of the film. The Blu-ray and DVD discs both include the same small assortment of bonus material—just 5 minutes of cast and filmmaker behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Like with the previous installment of the franchise, Universal has also released Dragonheart: Vengeance on Netflix at the same time as the home video release. So folks pondering a purchase may be able to check it out there first. However, I have been a fan of this franchise from the beginning and am really happy to add this latest installment to my collection.



What’s Included:

Film: (1:36:53)

    Blu-ray:

    • 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
    • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS Digital Surround 5.1
    • Subtitles: English SDH, French

    DVD:

    • 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
    • Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
    • Subtitles: English SDH, French

    Digital (for redemption deadline, see www.NBCUcodes.com):

    • HD digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere

Extras:

All of the bonus material can be found on both the Blu-ray and DVD discs.

  • A New Legend (3:05)
    The cast and director discuss the characters and themes of this latest installment of the fantasy franchise. Includes behind-the-scenes-footage, and interviews with director Ivan Silvestrini, and stars Jack Kane (“Lukas”), Helena Bonham Carter (“Siveth”) and Joseph Millson (“Darius”).
  • Creating Siveth (2:05)
    Star Helena Bonham Carter talks about finding the voice for Siveth, while director Ivan Silvestrini and stars Jack Kane and Joseph Millson discuss filming without a dragon on set. Includes behind-the-scenes footage of Carter in the recording studio and the others filming on set.

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Film:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Recommended

Dragonheart: Vengeance is another fun and exciting installment in the popular fantasy film franchise that fans will surely enjoy. It shakes things up by introducing the franchise’s first female dragon, voiced by the talented Helena Bonham Carter, but still stays true to the core mythology of the franchise. The film also creates this really fun dynamic between main characters Lukas and Darius as they head out on their action-packed quest for vengeance. The Blu-ray looks and sounds great, but unfortunately only includes 5 minutes of behind-the-scenes bonus material. This is an easy recommendation for fans of the franchise, but for those who are on the fence, the film is currently available to check out on Netflix beforehand.