Dragons. Are there any cooler creatures in all of mythology? Unfortunately, in the world of celluloid, these great creatures of imagination have not really gotten their due. (At least, not in live-action cinema; why I have not yet seen How to Train Your Dragon is still beyond me.)
Is there any live-action film in which dragons have truly come off as cool as they deserve? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire wasn’t too bad, but the dragons aren’t the stars. As I impatiently await the day when Peter Jackson brings his vision of the ultimate dragon, Smaug, to life in The Hobbit, I think about other dragon-themed movies that I have enjoyed in the past. None of them are deserving enough to be called “great”, but I’m very forgiving of movies I want to like. In one of these cases, I was the perfect age to see a dragon with real presence brought to life on the big screen – even if the movie he inhabited was far from perfect. Without further adieu, I present, in ascending order on my Flickchart, my picks for Guilty Pleasures starring dragons.
Back in the days before 1995, before Pixar came along and ruined everything, the Walt Disney Studio was responsible for the greatest animated films of all time. In 1937, Walt Disney changed the face of cinema forever with the first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Every few years heralded the advent of a new Disney masterpiece, but following The Jungle Book in 1967 (the final animated film Walt himself oversaw before his death), Disney animation hit a bit of a slump.
It wasn’t until 1989, with the success of The Little Mermaid, that the studio’s second Golden Age of animation arrived, and it lasted until CGI (and the obvious storytelling prowess of Pixar Studios) moved in and brutally kicked traditional hand-drawn animation out of the cinemas. It was a magic age that brought us films the likes of Aladdin, Mulan and Tarzan, but there were two films that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Both were films that told classic stories in a way that only Disney animation could achieve. Both reveled in critical and box office success. (One was able to claim for nine years that it was the highest-grossing animated movie of all time; the other was able to claim for 19 years that it was the only animated movie to ever be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award–until an expansion of the category to ten nominees and this film came along.) And both were unquestionably among the most brilliant jewels in Disney’s animation crown. But this, folks, is Flickchart, and there’s only one question to ask: Which movie is better? Find out in this edition of Reel Rumbles (now Super-Sized, with a special Bonus Round!): The Lion King vs. Beauty and the Beast.
2009 was a banner year for science fiction, one of the best for the genre in recent memory. It brought us franchise resurrections (J.J. Abrams‘ Star Trek, McG‘s Terminator Salvation), critically-heralded indie gems (Duncan Jones‘ Moon), and, indeed, Oscar cred with, not one, but two Best Picture nominations. Which brings us to, arguably, two of the best sci-fi movies of the past decade, and this edition of Reel Rumbles: James Cameron‘s Avatar vs. Neill Blomkamp‘s District 9.
It’s a true David vs. Goliath story: Avatar is both the most expensive movie in film history, and the highest-grossing. District 9 is the little indie that could, proportionately achieving financial success somewhat comparable to Avatar‘s with a much more meager budget. One was directed by one of the most successful directors in cinematic history (who already had the previous highest-grossing film of all time, Titanic , under his belt), and one was helmed by a first-time feature film director whom producer Peter “The Lord of the Rings” Jackson had taken under his belt. And yet, for two films on such opposite ends of the financial and professional spectrum, they actually share a surprising number of similarities.
But which film is superior? Does box office domination translate to better filmmaking? Step into the ring and find out…