Posts Tagged ‘fantasy movies’

Today I’m sharing an article from Nature Magazine, published in 2015. The authors, Andrew J. Hamilton, Robert M. May and Edward K. Waters, purport to discuss the history of humans and dragons through European history.

Their theory: dragons are quite real, and were well known to people in the Dark Ages. However, climate change drove the creatures into a centuries-long hibernation. During this time, people became more concerned with scientific proofs than fictional tales. Unable to prove that dragons exist, most people came to believe either that dragons were extinct or that they had never existed at all.

However, the authors caution, the world is now warming again. Dramatic global temperature shifts are sure to bring dragons back from their hibernation!

You’ll note I said they purport to discuss these matters. The article is rife with references to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and especially to Newt Scamander, protagonist of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A close look reveals that the text was published on April 1, 2015. Obviously it’s an April Fool’s Day article. The Potter references suggest that the magazine was playing up for the Fantastic Beasts movie, which if memory serves was released later in 2015.

Anyway, I hope you’ll read the article and enjoy the faux scientific gravity.

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Another common way to name dragon characters is simply to string together some interesting sounds or bits of words. Truth be told, that isn’t much different than naming any other fantasy character or place.

Because dragons often are fierce, you might incorporate some of the harsher or sharper sounds. X, S, C and K come to mind. One of my friends pointed out last time that the more intelligent dragons will be naming themselves, and dragon speech might have a hissing quality that would call for SH, TH and CH sounds. Z and J give a more guttural effect. For a very large creature, rumbling sounds like R, M and N might occur.

Of course, there are the Pern novels, where every dragon’s name ends in TH. You can immediately tell if characters are human or dragon just from that.

One of my favorite techniques is to build off a piece of a word with some particular meaning. In the movie Dragonslayer, the dragon’s name starts with “verm,” a form of wyrm, which of course means a dragon. The second half, “thrax,” includes both TH and X sounds, and is a sound-alike for thrash, in the beating-things-up sense. You end up with Vermithrax, one of the coolest and most theatrical dragon names ever.

Of my own dragon characters, Carnisha contains “carn,” which is like the Spanish word for meat. Lythiskar includes “lithe” plus a sound-alike for scar. Cazarluun is a spirit dragon with a ghostly glow, so I worked in “luna,” a common name for the Moon.

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One science writer attempts to answer this age-old question in the context of Game of Thrones.

Check the links at the bottom. There are quite a number of fun articles examining various real-world sciences in this popular show.

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Here’s another of the summer dragon movies that I didn’t get around to seeing in theaters. Maybe I was hesitant because the first one was so good and I didn’t want to spoil the buzz. Also, I ended up traveling more than expected during the summer.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 does a lot of things right. It brings in some specific quotes and flavor from the book, which I welcome. Hiccup and Toothless have been exploring more of Burk’s surroundings, so we see a map that greatly resembles the one from the books. We also get quite a bit of feisty byplay with Toothless that’s typical of his book personality. Some side characters may or may not spring from the books. I’m not sure because I didn’t read the entire How to Train Your Dragon series.

However, the plot does follow movie continuity, with continued flirtation between Hiccup and Astrid. Questions are raised about the ultimate destiny for Toothless and his human pal, only some of which are answered. There’s a new bad-guy, Drago, who has been gathering a dragon riding army. Guess where he’s coming next? Drago’s scary domination contrasts nicely with Hiccup’s earnest caring.

Another positive is the new ideas about dragon society. They live in nests, which usually are ruled by a vast queen dragon. In the new nest, though, there is a king dragon, equally monumental, who rules over dragonkind with compassionate solidity. Evidently this “alpha” dragon is essential to all the dragons of his or her nest, and the alpha’s character determines their own. This would explain why all the Berk dragons became so friendly once their original Mean Queen was out of the picture.

Unfortunately, Drago’s plan hinges on displacing the Good King Dragon with his own Mean King Dragon. It was sad and a little disturbing to see how quickly the Berk characters’s beloved companions could be taken over by this malevolent personality.

There’s also a surprise return by a character who had been thought dead, and I won’t spoil it by saying more. All in all the screenplay is well put together, though with few surprises. The look of the bizarre and intensely colorful dragons remains consistent, and the music is also quite fine. (Not as much bagpipe, to my disappointment.)

I do recommend this movie to buy, rent, or borrow from the library. Especially if all those heavy Oscar movies are weighing on your soul these days. You can’t go wrong with crazy Vikings and their dragons.

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This movie, released in 2011, has the distinct feel of an independent film. The director, Anne K. Black, also produced and wrote, while the other two producers shared writing chores. None of the actors are anyone you’ll have heard of.

It’s a very typical dragon-hunting adventure in a quasi-Renaissance setting, with a light sprinkling of magic and romance. Young Will and his father are shepherds struggling to make ends meet when a dragon moves into the neighborhood and starts picking off their flock. Will convinces his Dad to go hunting for the creature, but Dad is killed. Will heads down the mountain to beg for work from grouchy Lord Sterling. There’s a spirited daughter, a scoundrel knight, and several fellow servants who have it in for Will just because he’s new.

The good? Lovely scenery in Ireland. Nice costuming, too. Special effects were decent. I enjoyed their design for the dragon, which combined elements of a snake and a Siamese cat. Unfortunately, the dragon has no personality and plays exactly the role you’d expect of it.

The not so good? You could tell the script was written by a committee, with every character a cliché and every plot twist predictable. They only surprised me with one character, Lady Spriggs, who is introduced as a terrible harridan but turns out to be witty and wise. The actors didn’t do much with the script, and the editing is very choppy.

In other words, it’s a solid B Movie. Don’t expect deep thought or great special effects, and you can have a good time watching Dawn of the Dragonslayer. Director Black has also completed another fantasy movie, The Crown and the Dragon (2013). I plan to look for it.

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