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The Last Dragon
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Reviews & Ratings for
Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real (TV) More at IMDbPro »The Last Dragon (original title)

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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Dragons as if they were real

9/10
Author: AirraptorXRC from Alexandria, Virginia
21 March 2005

The Carpathian Mountains of Romania: hikers exploring this fabled range have stumbled onto a unique find, one that requires an official investigation. Paleontologists arrive to find an ice cave in a glacier, revealed by unseasonably warm weather in the region. Inside, they find the corpses of several 15th century knights and make an amazing discovery; a frozen, yet perfectly preserved body of a creature once thought to be only a myth: a dragon.

So begins the latest foray from the BBC and the Discovery Networks, "Dragon's World: A Fantasy Made Real", with effects by Framestore, the same company that gave us "Walking with Dinosaurs". The story takes a simple concept - what if dragons were real - and runs with the idea, using science to explain how these animals might have existed.

I'm a big fan of the dragon, perhaps the most powerful and inspirational beast of myth, legend, and literature. As a fan of these spectacular beasts, I was practically salivating when I first saw the teaser in January for this program on Animal Planet and have been checking out their website since. It was an exciting thought to think that I would be seeing wyverns taking on T-Rex and winged drakes soaring over snow capped mountains. Dragons were coming to life in the real world.

Personally, I enjoyed the program I saw on Animal Planet, narrated here in the US by Patrick Stewart. Stewart is an excellent narrator, and even he apparently got caught up in the action of the program, actually missing a cue at one point. His narration will be missed when I get the actual program, which I hear is narrated by Ian Holm. The program transitions smoothly between the dragons scenes and the scenes involving the investigation into the dragon corpse. Even the autopsy scenes are done well; I wasn't tempted to go look for a snack during these scenes.

This program is not without it's faults. While I can believe how an animal that can get to be 900+lbs took off, I'm not quite as sold as how they breathed fire. I can see why the writers and producers went with this method - ancient manuscripts describe the dragons' fire in this way - but I prefer the "Reign of Fire" method. I'm also a little wary about how dragons warmed their eggs; somehow, the idea of dragons "cooking" their eggs doesn't appeal to me, but again, according to most ancient literature, this is how it was done. I also felt that the program should have paid more attention to the aquatic and marine dragons, the fabled "wingless" dragons of China.

Perhaps my favorite scene was the mating dance of the mountain dragons, inspired by the rituals of eagles. To see these dragons grasping their claws together and free falling is a sight that anyone would have been awestruck to witness. I was also impressed with the scenes involving the dragon corpse, which actually looked real in many scenes. Usually, when Framestore uses latex models, they somehow can't seem to make them look like anything other than rubber puppets; this was not the case here. In a program where the majority of the dragons were CGI productions, this is a plus.

I would recommend this program to anyone who is a fantasy aficionado, or someone who likes dragons and a good story. I've read one reviewer's comments that maybe that this should have been on the Sci-Fi Channel instead of Animal Planet, but I disagree. As one producer said, this is the ultimate animal, one that is known by nearly all human cultures, from the Inuit in the north to the Aboriginies of Australia. It would have probably been more at home on the Discovery Channel, but considering that the BBC has a contract with Discovery's parent company for programs like this, I'm not complaining. And one must remember that while it is done in the style of a documentary, it is a story; but then, isn't that what a documentary is anyway?

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Dragon lover's favorite "document"

10/10
Author: North_Ranger (mtmets@utu.fi) from Turku, Finland
13 September 2005

I rented this movie tonight out of curiosity. First I thought this would be some lousy action movie with even lousier effects (think Ice Planet, for example). But I was positively surprised to find out that this science fiction quasi-documentary was actually thoroughly enjoyable.

I am a fan of "Walking With Dinosaurs", and as a fantasy enthusiast, this documentary was right up my alley. Sure I know that dragons weren't real, but the theories provided seemed sound enough to me. And I have to admit, I was touched by the tragedy of the mountain dragons as well as awe-struck by the beauty of the dragons mating, taking the plunge and scorching the ground as they pull up.

As a "what if" documentary this was a 10/10. If somebody wants to complain that this isn't a "real" documentary, they should pay in mind that it was not planned as such. Dragon's World is a different and enjoyable document to see, as long as you don't take everything too seriously.

Besides, you never know...

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19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Dragons: Fact or Fiction

7/10
Author: Michael Rauser from Kornwestheim, Germany
2 December 2004

The plot of this movie is about a scientist who believes dragons to be real. The first indication is a scorched skull of a T-rex in his museum. Then he is able to explore a cave in the Romanian mountains where the frozen bodies of medieval knights and the remains of an unknown creature were found.

By examining the carcass he finds evidence for an unknown animal that can fly and spit fire. They cococt 'scientific' explanations for these impossible abilities. Everything is underlined by views on the dead bodies and very realistic computer animated scenes of the life of 'real' dragons.

I have to admit having some problems with the genre of this movie. Despite being called a 'documentary' it is pure science fiction. The scientific explanations for a dragon being able to fly and spit fire sound good but do not stand close examination. There is no space here to give detailed comments on this topic.

However I liked this film, because it is innovative despite a simple plot and above all the animated scenes are very realistic. They are at least equal to 'Jurassic Park'.

Altogether everything looks so real and sounds so rational, people without scientific background may think that it is a true story.

The end of the movie is open, we might see Dragon's World II sometimes in the future.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Genuine *science* fiction documentary

8/10
Author: skoyles from Calgary AB Canada
14 April 2005

I noticed this DVD for sale at Wal-Mart but being impecunious at the time I passed it by. It haunted me so a few days later I went back and spent the not inconsiderable asking price. Prepared to be disappointed, I sat down to watch it. Utter glee followed. I had seen the previous Animal Planet shows on dinosaurs and was suitably impressed. The hard edge of "nature red in tooth and claw" had surprised me in the earlier productions - perhaps I was expecting "Bambi" - and this degree of reality was welcome. Now for "Dragons' World". Is anyone old enough to remember the first Christopher Reeve "Superman" movie? It's tagline was something like "You will believe a man can fly." After watching "Dragons' World" I can only paraphrase, "You will believe that dragons lived." Produced in the exact manner of its real-life predecessors, including the use of some scenes several times, the flashbacks, the astonishing CGI and a strangely familiar T. rex, the verisimilitude is perfect. Above all the dance and mating of the doomed mountain dragons is alone worth the price of admission. The nearly convincing zoological speculations anchor the whole production. From the beginning we know, as with the dinosaurs, that the dragons are doomed so no one should be surprised by the sadness and tragedy of the story. However, if you love palaeontology, legends and have even a hint of imagination, "Dragons' World" will prove a fine way to spend some time.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

I loved this movie !!

9/10
Author: sauteangel from Portland, Oregon
5 August 2005

I just loved this movie. It was well done for it's genre. The special effects were magnificent. The dragons are beautiful. If you love dragons this is a must see movie. My daughter saw part of a commercial for this movie and was all excited that they had found a dragon. She was, and is, very upset that they "lied" to her. She thought it was a real documentary. We have rented this movie 6 times now and I am looking for it to purchase. This movie actually made me think, what would it take to enable such a large creature to fly? I like their explanation. The movie actually seems to incorporate new dinosaur findings as far as preferred habitat, social interactions, and mating rituals.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"What if Dragons existed?"

10/10
Author: Angelus2 from United Kingdom
30 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dr. Tanner has been fascinated by the myth of the Dragons, and then one day this myth becomes reality as archaeologists uncover a 'Dragon Skeleton'.

This is a brilliant docu-drama, that makes one forget that it is all 'fake', the writing, acting and directing is simply brilliant, as great detail is placed upon the myth of the Dragon and what a real Dragon would look like, as well as function, with wings and the fire breathing.

I simply fell in love with this as it grabbed my attention, at the very first moment and held it, the special effects are also very good and make this show well worth the watch.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Interesting

9/10
Author: ironlungs716 from United States
15 August 2005

As a Dragon lover I completely enjoyed this movie. It was very interesting from the moment it started until it ended. I KNOW it was only fiction, but it was made to look so real. The level of special effects were superb and very convincing. And why is it not possible that Dragons might not have existed ? Millions of years ago is such a long time ago. The movie made it seem all so possible that their existence was a reality. Anyone who loves Dragons will enjoy this movie and I highly recommend it. Patrick Stewart as the narrator was an excellent choice as well. He has such an authoritative voice and commands attention. I personally wish they would make more movies like this about Dragons. My only complaint is that they dealt only with the fire breathing race of Dragons and did not include some of the other races common amongst Dragons.

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12 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Interesting speculation, not what I expected

Author: James Ruwaldt (jruwaldt@hotmail.com) from NC
4 April 2005

I was expecting a show about the mythological origins of dragons, as well as the observations of real animals or misperceptions of other natural phenomena that may have inspired the myths. Instead, I was presented with a proposed account of the evolution of dragons, as if they were real. The narrator did mention in passing that dragons didn't exist, with such clauses as "if dragons were real," and there may have been a disclaimer at the beginning, which I missed. However, the program gives the impression that dragons did exist at one time and that hikers in the Carpathians actually did discover bodies of dragons and scorched knights. Perhaps the producers weren't really trying to deceive, but the program does seem like a hoax in the making. In any case, whether it had been presented purely as a work of fiction or as alleged science, it didn't belong on Animal Planet. Animal Planet is supposed to be about real animals. The show Animal X tends to push the boundaries a little too much as well, particularly with its spooky narrator who tries to encourage viewers to lower their skepticism. The Sci-Fi Channel or The History Channel would have been a much better choice for broadcasting this show.

All that said, however, this was a very fascinating program. The production values were excellent, and the science behind dragon evolution appears sound. As a "what if" program it's excellent.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Perfect for those that adore dragons and want to believe the myth, a very mixed bag for everyone else

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
6 May 2007

A skiing accident in Romania uncovers a series of ice caves. The police are called as bodies are found which look like they date back centuries but this discovery is nothing compared to what appears to be a large, comparatively intact beast preserved in the ice. News reaches the London museum about this discovery and it peaks the interest of one Dr Tanner – a man mocked by his peers for claiming that attack marks on a T-Rex skull could have come from a dragon. Tanner and his team investigate and find more than they could have ever expected; meanwhile the documentary shows us the history of the beast.

OK, lets get the pointless moaning out of the way – "it's not even real". Well, of course it isn't and god love anyone who thought it was. Of course the subject not being real is hardly a criticism given that 99% of the films in cinemas tend to be fictional and the genre of documentary style dramas is hardly something new. However what it does mean is that the documentary style relies very heavily on how interesting it is and also how engaging it is as it folds in with the drama part of the film. In this case the subject is nothing to do with fact or reality at all but yet the special effects in the "nature documentary" side of the film make it interesting enough.

It is all very "Walking With Dinosaurs" but it looks good and Ian Holm's delivery is a good choice for the style of thing that the film is aiming for. Unfortunately though, the "drama" side of the film is roundly poor. It focuses on Dr Tanner excitedly following the modern discovery of our dragon and discovering (rapidly) all manner of things from one corpse – right down to "proving" an entire family of dragon species or coming up with an extreme rating ritual from a few burns in the rock! The explanation of how the mythical figure worked and lived is pretty detailed but I found it impossible to forget that it was entirely made up! This is only part of the story though because whatever potential the theorising had is completely undercut by the delivery of the drama part.

The dialogue and acting is average at best, with Hilton miscast and unable to do anything with what he is given. Tanner's narration is also poor; the American accent doesn't help but it is still poor regardless. Hardy's direction clearly focuses on the effects rather than the overall product (as does Foley's script) and he can't help this part of it. This leaves the viewer with the only value being offered from the curio nature of seeing the dragons as if they were real and this was a documentary.

This was barely enough for me although I admit at times I was interested. The drama is terrible nonsense that is badly delivered in many aspects and it is only the novelty of seeing the dragon as a subject of a "Walking with Dinosaurs" nature programme that makes it engaging at all. Perfect for those that adore dragons and want to believe the myth, a very mixed bag for everyone else.

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The last of a dying breed - a great theoretical documentary

10/10
Author: dasthor
23 March 2015

I first watched 'The Last Dragon' on Animal Planet when I was 12 years old, a brilliant age to be introduced to it. It was the peek of my interest in fantasy, having experienced 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Chronicles of Narnia', and to see a documentary depicting such creatures in a naturalistic context - a kind of mystical 'Walking with Dinosaurs' - that was like a dragon hoard of awesome. But even after ten years, when I watch this video again, it still fills me with great satisfaction knowing that a lot of effort went into creating such a visceral depiction of the creatures.

I love fantasy and mythology, but what makes the film succeed is how it meshes those elements with a certain element of natural history. A lot like the Rankin/Bass cartoon 'The Flight of Dragon', 'The Last Dragon' attempts and ultimately succeeds in creating a scientific explanation for their behavior - how they flew and breathed fire, mating rituals, family dynamics, even explaining the diversity of visual depictions between cultures worldwide.

All of this is depicted in the same way as 'Walking with Dinosaurs', digital creatures displaced against live action backgrounds and they all look spectacular. One particular scene involving two classic European dragons I remember as a teenager actually being on the verge of tears. I dare not give away what the action is specifically but suffice to say that the visual style mixed with a really clever and creative depiction of their natural behavior is what won me over and I was completely immersed in that world.

As a huge fan boy of folklore and mythology, a little bit of me still carries that child-like belief that some kind of creature as a dragon did exist at some time... Hey, if 50% of Icelanders are allowed to believe that elves still exist - and they definitely do - I get to believe these creatures could have feasibly exist. 'The Last Dragon' gave me that sense of possibility and if you're like me or you have kids who are at that age, this documentary will certainly have a similar effect. It has the right balance of sweeping visual adventure mixed with the scientific-ish jargon that appeals to a lot of audiences. It also helps that both narrators provide real gravitas to the script; both the British narration by Ian Holm and the North American track by Patrick Stewart are brilliantly cast. This is a real sweeping tribute to the 'what-if' genre of documentary television and can be enjoyed by families, fantasy lovers or just those people looking for an adventure.

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