Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Phil Tippet” with a minor in “F&#*-ING DRAGONS!”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week Supercult watches DragonHeart and then annoys the family by insisting that they recite the Old Code before starting dinner.
Bowen is an Arthurian knight sworn to valor, but valor doesn’t pay the bills or quench Bowen’s healthy thirst for vengeance. Dragon slaying on the other hand does both, but when the disillusioned knight meets Draco, the last dragon they form an unlikely partnership, first to make a living and then to save the kingdom. It’s a fantastic tale of virtue, friendship, and Scottish CG reptiles! You will belive when you witness DragonHeart!
Released in 1996, DragonHeart is a fantasy adventure written by director Patrick Read Johnson. When he proposed the idea to producers Johnson described DragonHeart as “The Skin Game with a dragon in it…or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Dragon.” Johnson thought the idea of a dragon and a knight conning medieval villages out of their money was both funny and kind of sweet, and after shopping the idea around, was able to secure writer Charles Edward Pogue (co-writer of Supercult classic The Fly) and director Rob Cohen who gave us the first Fast and the Furious film, xXx, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
DragonHeart was in preproduction as early as 1992 when Jim Henson’s Creature Shop was hired to create the dragon. The Creature Shop actually built a full-scale dragon head and quarter-scale animatronic dragon puppet, but the film was subsequently put on hold and all that remains of the Creature Shop’s work is a few frames of test film. In the end, Draco’s creation was supervised by Industrial Light and Magic and the legendary Oscar winning VFX producer Phil Tippet who’s work includes the original Star Wars Trilogy, RoboCop, Jurassic Park, and even Supercult Classics like Starship Troopers and Howard the Duck. DragonHeart was the first film to utilize ILM’s Caricature software developed to help lip-sync Draco’s animation to Sean Connery’s voiceover work, and Draco is also often sited as the first fully CGI main character in a film, though that distinction properly belongs to Casper one year prior in 1995.
Filming for DragonHeart took place in Slovakia and during sequences with Draco, the VFX teams used what they called a “monster stick” (a pole with a horizontal bar and two red circles on either end of the bar) so that actors would know where Draco’s eyes would be and set up speakers through which the director would read Draco’s lines in response to other actors. Though most of the scenes involving Draco were fully rendered in CG, some of Draco’s body parts were created and controlled by a puppeteer for close ups and character interactions, such as Draco’s maw and foot.
Randy Edelman composed the musical score for DragonHeart and his majestic, swelling main theme song is probably one of the most well known and widely used movie themes within the industry. It has been used, and reused so often, that it has become the Wilhelm scream of musical themes having been used for as a stand in during trailers for other films, during clip montages at the Academy Awards, and even over the closing credits of the U.S. broadcasts of the Olympics.
Most of the trivia for DragonHeart revolves around its casting, such as how Liam Neeson was originally cast in the role of Bowen, but that the studio didn’t think audiences would buy him as an action hero. But this all drives home that this speech is lacking some of the comical pizzazz that you may be used to from Supercult speeches. DragonHeart doesn’t lend itself to the usual riffing at the expense of the film’s plot or direction, or acting, or have any dark and dirty secrets hidden in it’s production. The truth is that DragonHeart was built from the ground up as a classy, high-end, pinky’s out, sort of Supercult film.
It has charming characters, good writing, quality effects, an uplifting message, and an endearing level of self-awareness that allows people put aside their misgivings and go see a movie where dragon James Bond, teams up with the dad from the Parent Trap, the big game hunter from Jurassic World, and that one chick from Starship Troopers to defeat an evil girly version of Professor Lupin from Harry Potter. People called it cliché, confusing, and childish and scoffed derisively at it’s massive $57 million budget. Critics gave it a 6.4 on IMDB and a mediocre 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. And then DragonHeart doubled its budget at the box office, Won a Saturn Award, was nominated for an Oscar, spawned a novel and 2 sequels with another sequel in the works, and became widely regarded as a cult classic.
Look to the stars and recite the old code!
The Supercult show is proud to present DragonHeart!
Here’s some goofy dragon-related videos to placate the masses: