Insert a fire-breathing behemoth or a sage-eyed, scaly guardian right into a film or guide, and it virtually all the time raises its leisure worth. From wyverns to Naga, Bewilderbeasts to Swedish Quick-Snouts, dragons enchantment to individuals of all ages—and why would not they? They’re like higher variations of dinosaurs; they’re highly effective, and magical, and so they generally even discuss. If the dragon in a movie is uninteresting, the filmmakers simply aren’t attempting laborious sufficient. Their tales are shared the world over, inspiring each marvel and terror in era after era of theatergoers.

Whereas dragons characteristic in dozens upon dozens of fantasy movies, motion pictures that embrace dragons as foremost characters are comparatively few and much between. Nonetheless, there are a few very worthwhile choices on the market for cinephiles keen to do a little bit of adventuring.


Up to date on July twenty ninth, 2022 by Tanner Fox: Dragons typically come part-and-parcel with realms of excessive fantasy and Arthurian journey, however that needn’t all the time be the case. The Harry Potter movies make frequent point out of dragons and get rid of a lot of the sword and sorcery romanticism of the style, and films like Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away supply a very totally different tackle the idea of flying lizards.

It is true that motion pictures that includes dragons are comparatively few and much between in a contemporary cinematic panorama of superheroes and post-apocalyptic dystopias, however that does not imply there are not any to be discovered in any respect.

Merlin (1998)

Sam Neill in the 1998 fantasy film Merlin.

Technically, Merlin will not be a film; it was a made-for-TV miniseries featured on NBC in 1998. However, given its high quality and following, it deserves some recognition. Some followers argue that the scene within the movie the place Merlin’s love Nimue is sacrificed to a dragon is the very best scene within the miniseries. Whether or not or not that’s true, it can’t be denied that the scene introduced dragons into dwelling rooms throughout the nation throughout prime-time TV.

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Merlin was nominated for six Emmy Awards and 4 Golden Globes, and it at present boasts an 82% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Its greatest accomplishment, nevertheless, was luring so many new followers to the fantasy style. Full of drama and magic and loosely based mostly on real-world historic occasions, Merlin served as a stepping stone towards the inflow of fantasy productions in mainstream media, paving the way in which for tv exhibits like Grimm, As soon as Upon a Time, and Supernatural. Fantasy followers can also be accustomed to the present’s sequel, Merlin’s Apprentice.

Flight of the Dragons (1982)

Flight of Dragons

Among the greatest dragon motion pictures are animated, which makes excellent sense. It hasn’t all the time been potential to seize the majesty, magic, and even brutality of dragons on the massive display, particularly when the know-how simply wasn’t in place for it but. Take The Flight of the Dragons, for instance. Launched in 1982, it combines star voice-acting abilities like John Ritter and James Earl Jones and items of fantasy tomes like The Flight of Dragons and The Dragon and the George to create an animated deal with for all ages.

Newcomers to the movie mustn’t let its underwhelming cowl artwork deter them from seeing it. It options the identical dramatic and beautiful but someway gritty fantasy fashion utilized in motion pictures like The Final Unicorn. It’s a uncommon kind of movie that merely is not made anymore.

Eragon (2006)

A promotional image from the 2006 movie Eragon.

An adaptation of the younger grownup novel of the identical title, Eragon is the traditional story of a younger boy preventing to defend his individuals and residential towards invaders with a high-fantasy twist. Indelliably bonded to a dragon often known as Saphira, the 2 develop a kinship as they quest to thwart impending evils.

Eragon was a celebrated kids’s novel, nevertheless it did not translate all that properly to movie, with critics branding it with a rancid sixteen % on Rotten Tomatoes. Nonetheless, it is pleasing sufficient for youthful audiences, and it might have fared a bit higher had it not come on the heels of the titanic Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Dragonslayer (1981)


Whereas actor Peter MacNicol might distance himself from his 1981 movie, Dragonslayer nonetheless maintains a cult following. Between its common weirdness, darkness, and “saving the damsel in misery” theme, Dragonslayer recollects the archetypal Arthurian story, in addition to the story of David’s triumph over Goliath, in additional methods than one.

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The film featured a shocking quantity of gore for its topic, incorporating some borderline horror parts into its spine. As we speak’s dragon followers would possibly see it and contemplate its particular results each too outdated and too darkish, however the movie was an enormous achievement in cinematography and particular results on the time, managing to painting a dragon on the massive display in a approach no different movie had fairly completed.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

A Fell Beast in the 2002 high fantasy film Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Most Tolkien followers say that no movie might ever really do the books full justice, however nobody might deny the mesmerizing results of the early 2000s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. When viewers first lay eyes on these swooping fell beasts throughout The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, few might have walked away with out goosebumps.

One might argue that the Nazgul scenes from Return of the King are much more mesmerizing. Whereas the enduring second between the Witch King and Eowyn positively deserves mentioning, it was in Osgiliath the place viewers first glimpsed the fell beasts that the Nazgul rode whereas searching the One Ring. Amid the creatures’ deafening wing-swishing and ear-splitting cries, audiences might virtually odor their stench and really feel their rancid breath.

Pete’s Dragon (1977)

Pete's Dragon 2016 remake Elliot the Dragon first look

Although it is without doubt one of the extra lighthearted dragon movies, Pete’s Dragon will not be with out its darkness. Between the abuse of a backwoods adopted household and the specter of having his dragon murdered, mutilated, and eaten as magical medication, Pete’s childhood wasn’t precisely a rosy one. Nonetheless, the principle message of the movie is uplifting, and, though it solely scored a 56% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes, households loved the 1977 film’s musical numbers which featured performances by Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, and Charlie Callas, who voiced the goofy animated dragon.

The lovable nature of Eliot, mixed together with his spherical, hand-drawn options and assist of Pete, made him a favourite amongst kids and adults alike. Whereas the 2016 remake took a number of liberties, it was finally acquired as a superior modernization of the unique.

Shrek (2001)

dragon shrek

Few motion pictures painting dragons as feminine creatures. Not solely did Shrek characteristic a pink, eye-lashed dragon that wore lipstick, however the film additionally noticed her fall in love with a speaking donkey—a primary for any style. Most dragon motion pictures characteristic minimal-to-zero gentle comedy, however Dragon in Shrek begins as a menace after which evolves right into a love-struck punchline. In later movies within the Shrek sequence, Dragon turns into a critical love curiosity and even finally ends up making donkey-dragon hybrids with Shrek’s sidekick.

Dragon was a cutting-edge CGI creation on the time, and audiences beloved it. The 2001 movie noticed three sequels, and an upcoming fifth movie is claimed to be within the making. Dragon’s particular results improved all through the franchise, and the character was utilized as soon as once more as a fearsome beast in the course of the Shrek Without end After time-warp. DreamWorks Animation skyrocketed as an organization following the success of Shrek, and the function of Dragon, among the many remainder of the fairy story creatures, was a giant a part of that success.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

King Ghidorah as seen in the 2019 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Godzilla’s standing as a form of dragon is up for debate, however King Ghidorah, the central antagonist of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, positively qualifies. A large, hydra-like creature able to respiratory lightning, Ghidorah is each bit as threatening because the titular monster.

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The movie divided audiences and critics when it debuted; whereas writers and reporters reviled its penchant for large, loud motion sequences, followers heralded it as the last word popcorn film. Whereas he is probably not a very deep or complicated villain, King Ghidorah is an ideal match for the movie, and he is an utter terror on-screen.

Maleficent (2014)

A still of the dragon in the 2014 fantasy film Maleficent.

In 2014, Angelina Jolie portrayed some of the well-known film villains in a brand new gentle in Walt Disney Footage’ Maleficent, and she or he was accompanied by some of the placing dragons ever added to a movie. It includes a incredible battle scene with a dragon, in addition to magic at each flip. Along with giving a villain her humanity and a believable backstory, it additionally featured a heroine on the helm, thrilling little women in all places to don Maleficent costumes and tote their stuffed ravens in all places from trick-or-treating to show-and-tell.

Sleeping Magnificence, the film’s unique supply materials, deserves an honorable point out, as properly. Not solely did it encourage the Maleficent movie, however the assault of the animated dragon within the film is without doubt one of the most thrilling animated sequences predating fashionable CGI results. It was a very thrilling scene for its time, and it was very seemingly the very best scene in Sleeping Magnificence.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Hearth (2005)

Followers of the Harry Potter movie franchise who’ve by no means learn the books are actually lacking out relating to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Hearth. A key element of the Triwizard Match is the dragon battle, however, within the guide, readers encounter a number of styles of dragons. Additionally they get to satisfy Charlie Weasley, a personality who is totally ignored within the movies however is beloved by the fanbase. Creatures make up probably the most wonderful moments of Goblet of Hearth, however the dragon scenes had been such large fan favorites that there’s even a dragon trip within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Harry Potter universe will not be restricted to at least one guide or movie relating to dragons, both. Gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid adopted and hatched a dragon, Norbert, from an egg in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione trip a Ukrainian Ironbelly throughout the most effective dragon scenes within the franchise.

Willow (1988)

The two-headed dragon from the 1988 movie Willow.

Willow was one of many first fantasy motion pictures many lovers of the style ever skilled. Whereas its troll regarded extra like an affordable King Kong costume and its two-headed dragon is positively archaic by at the moment’s particular results requirements, it nonetheless managed to thrill viewers who fell in love with it in 1988. The scene the place Willow kicks a hatching two-headed dragon right into a moat solely to witness it develop and devour people, enraptured viewers and paved the way in which for far more real looking dragons in at the moment’s movies.

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Though Willow can solely be referred to as a modest field workplace success, like many fantasy movies, it nonetheless has a big fanbase. Between its bizarre creatures and Warwick Davis’s reluctant but steadfast heroics, it nonetheless appeals to audiences at the moment. It was nominated for 2 Academy Awards and, based on Slash Movie, director Ron Howard has advised reporters to “by no means say by no means” relating to a potential sequel.

Reign of Hearth (2002)

Dragon tales are sometimes set in historic historical past, making the 2002 futuristic movie Reign of Hearth a very thrilling tackle the fantasy. Not solely was it an entertaining post-apocalyptic movie that predated the present demand for dystopian media, nevertheless it additionally endangered your complete human race in a most original approach.

The premise sounds fairly kitschy for a Twenty first-century film, however Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Gerard Butler had been in a position to pull it off after which some. Critics thought-about it to be fairly lackluster, however fantasy followers loved Bale’s bravery, Butler’s selflessness, and McConaughey’s wide-eyed wildness. The visuals of a conflict towards dragons in a live-action film had been distinctive and satisfying, and the movie received a Pageant de Cine de Sitges Award and was nominated for a Saturn Award. It was additionally developed right into a online game.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Many followers agree that, if there may be something to get pleasure from about Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the grasping dragon, Smaug; the dragon’s particular results and haughty persona made the remainder of the film price seeing. The dragon’s lust for gold and vengeance was palpable on-screen, and Smaug’s sharp reptilian options, crafty golden eyes, and velvety-turned-murderous voice mix collectively to create a fearsome, depraved creature just like the world has by no means identified.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was a important success in addition to a field workplace hit, incomes $958 million worldwide. It made much more money than The Two Towers and The Fellowship of the Ring, though many followers declare to like the latter movies far more.

Spirited Away (2001)

Spirited Away, Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki

Maybe the very best illustration of an Asian dragon in movie is Haku, the River Spirit in Hayao Miyazaki’s animated movie Spirited Away. Like many Miyazaki characters, Haku is a mix of sunshine and darkish, battling his starvation for energy towards his need to be a superb individual. In dragon kind, he obeys his mistress, the witch Yubaba, whereas nonetheless preventing to guard the protagonist of the movie, Chihiro. In the end, it’s Chihiro’s story, and it’s she who saves them each in the long run.

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Most of Miyazaki’s movies are so magical that they put the one-note, two-dimensional characters in different animated options to disgrace, and Spirited Away is not any exception. The movie has collected sufficient important acclaim to show its mettle, and it is earned sufficient viewers approval to solidify it as an all-time nice. It has revamped $289 million across the globe and quickly turned one of many highest-grossing motion pictures within the historical past of Japanese filmmaking.

Easy methods to Prepare Your Dragon (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Hiccup and Toothless

Whereas kids’s novels do not sometimes translate all that properly to the silver display, one main exception is Easy methods to Prepare Your Dragon. The 2010 Dreamworks Animation characteristic scored a 98% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes and launched a complete franchise of merchandise, video video games, TV exhibits, and sequels.

The film is far more than its industrial success; the touching story of a no one who turns into crucial individual in a group as a result of his compassion and conviction, Easy methods to Prepare Your Dragon is each hilarious and shifting. Its dragons are wildly imaginative and rival Pokemon in some circles as “pets” to catch. Toothless, the movie’s central dragon, combines the standard qualities of a flying, fire-breathing dragon with new traits reminiscent of cat and dog-like habits, making him probably the most coveted dragon on Earth.

The Neverending Story (1984)

The NeverEnding Story

Essentially the most beloved creature in The Neverending Story, this flying, smiling luck dragon exhibited a lot ardour and positivity about Atreyu’s quest that he would possibly as properly have been often known as the Leslie Knope of dragons. Falcor, the luck dragon, is modeled extra intently after a Chinese language dragon than a European one, however most viewers keep in mind him as a large, shiny pet who favored kids—and never for breakfast.

His monumental brown eyes and fuzzy fur might need been odd in 1984, however the recognition of Wolfgang Peterson’s film stays steady, with extra mother and father introducing their childhood-favorite movie to their kids yearly. Falcor’s gleeful inclusion in a principally innocent revenge scheme on Bastian’s bullies additionally secured his place within the hearts of each younger and previous viewers.

Dragonheart (1996)

Dragonheart movie

Dragonheart is the story of Draco, a dragon who dared to share his coronary heart to assist hold a human prince alive. Sadly, his shared coronary heart was wasted on a merciless tyrant, main Draco to lose his religion in humanity. Partnering with Dennis Quaid’s scheming, dragon-slaying ex-knight, Draco simply received followers over together with his sarcastic commentary and curmudgeonly persona.

The movie even ended on a bittersweet word, securing a greater world for the dominion and incomes Draco his spot among the many stars together with his fellow dragons. Critics might need discovered the movie banal when it comes to its script, however nobody might deny the lure of its visuals and aesthetic worth. Since its launch, it has additionally impressed a online game and two sequels.

NEXT: 10 Greatest Fantasy Anime Of All Time, In accordance To Ranker

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