Jurassic Park was THE wow factor movie for the beginning of the digital effects era. I remember my first experience at seeing a lifelike dinosaur on the screen as I stared in amazement and wondered "how did they do that". Even so, it was still only some 5 minutes of onscreen time for the digital effects with the rest being animatronics. Along comes dragonheart, staking its claiming as having more than 17 minutes of a digital dragon onscreen, the most for its time. This was something different to the dinosaurs. This was one character with a speaking role which would require alot more animated magic to pull it off. The digital animators did and they took another big step toward replacing puppeteers with mouse clicks. Jump forward to today and the likes of the Phantom Menace dwarfs all others before it with 95% of the movie being digital but that's what you get when you own the company that all others come to for that binary baking.
Bowen (Dennis Quaid), a Knight of the old Code, is teaching young student Einen the ways of the noble and the fighting skills of the Knights while Einens father, the King of England, is raging a tyrannous battle against a small village. The King, thinking he has succeeded in destroying the village, soon realises he has fallen into the villagers trap and is killed. Einen, coming to his rescue is accidently pushed onto a stake by a young Kara (Dina Meyer) and injured. Bowen races him back to the castle to save his life - the only way to do so is for Einens mother (Julie Christie) to take Einen to an age old dragon who offers a piece of his heart to save the boy, only if the boy keeps a promise to be a good and noble King.
12 Years later, Einen has taken the place of his father both as King and evil tyrant. Bowen, believing the dragons heart has poisoned Einen, takes a vow to kill every remaining dragon only to realise he has met his match in the last remaining dragon, Draco (Sean Connery). A stalemate ensues and Bowen soon realises that killing Draco means he is out of job and Draco is not too fond of being killed so they come to a truce whereby Draco will terrorise villages and Bowen will arrive on the scene to 'kill' the menace, for a price.
When Bowen comes to terms with the fact that it is indeed Einen that is evil and not the dragon, he sets of to battle Einen and his army with the help of terrorised villagers who have been convinced by Kara that this is not the way people should be ruled. The problem is, Bowen can't kill Einen as his life blood lives within Draco so if Einen is hurt, Draco is also hurt. As long as Draco is alive, Einen shall never die so Bowen must chose to have Einen dead or his best friend Draco alive.
This is a good looking disc. I remember seeing the region 1 disc and seeing alot of edge enhancement which gave the image an artificial sharpness and detail. Alot of recent discs achieve much better image detail without artificial enhancement and it seems the region 4 release is from the same master.
That aside, the image is still pretty good. Shadow detail is very good given that night scenes are still filled with torch light or bright moonlight. I didn't notice any mpeg artifacting to deter from the visual experience and the bit-rate seemed a little higher on our release which should negate any inherent artifacting.
Color saturation and vibrancy is good. There are some impressive vistas throughout the movie but the color rendtion and detail in Draco is the most impressive aspect on this dvd. You can clearly see how much effort was put into his design and final rendering.
Ahh, one of the more entertaining soundtracks of recent releases. As with the visual effects in these movies, the sound also has alot of effort put in to give it that extra realistic sound. Every nuance of sound that could possibly be heard from the onscreen imagery is clearly defined and dialogue is well balanced throughout the whole movie no matter the situation.
It's when Draco appears that the soundtrack gets that little extra treatment. Sean Connerys booming presence is emphasised whenever he's on screen and there's that hint of a rumble in his voice to accomodate the size difference between a human and a dragon. The one scene that stands out is where Bowen, on horse, is conversing with Draco who is swooping and looping around the entire sound stage from speaker to speaker with great stage imaging. An excellent soundtrack indeed.