Yes, I realize that Game of Thrones is not a movie. But it has dragons, so just follow me here. I’m starting to think the addition of dragons makes everything better. If there’s a post-apocalyptic movie where survivors live in castles, add a dragon or two. If you have a fantasy epic show based on popular novels where everyone dies, add a dragon. Dragons have never hurt a movie or show, except for the adaptation of Eragon. Nothing could have helped that movie.
These fabled creatures either inspire fear or hope depending on who’s controlling them. I rated the best movie dragons based on realism, nostalgia and impressiveness.
5 – Jabberwocky (Alice in Wonderland)
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has gone through several adaptations. The nonsensical Jabberwocky poem first appeared in Through the Looking Glass. While the poem is a boastful favorite of English majors nationwide, it managed to spawn one of the most terrifying creatures ever seen. The 1985 TV movie ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was known for its bizarre story format and celebrity cameos. I watched this version of the movie countless times as a kid. Though, there was always one part where I closed my eyes and basically went into the fetal position. At the end of part one, Alice has made it safely back home from Wonderland. She sits in her living room and starts reading the infamous Jabberwocky poem (That’s basically the fairy tale version of the Ouija Board in my estimation). As soon as she does, the room goes dark and the Jabberwocky appears and chases her into the mirror. This version of the Jabberwocky is clearly a “man in suit” but it still manages to haunt my nightmares to this day.
4 – Elliot (Pete’s Dragon)
How could anyone not love Elliot the dragon? He is one of Disney’s first superheroes as the protector and guardian for all children in need. In ‘Pete’s Dragon,’ he not only saves the day but helps Pete to find a family. With his mission completed, Elliot flies away in search of another child who needs a friend. Elliot is a flawed hero. His clumsiness often gets him into more trouble than necessary. This rotund dragon can also turn invisible at will. If Elliot ever were to die, at least his remains could be donated to science. As Dr. Terminus sang in ‘Every little piece,’ dragon’s blood can stop you aging. Dragon cartilage keeps you thin. I’m craving some roasted apples now.
Fun Fact: In the Disney universe, Elliot’s cousin in Mushu (from Mulan).
3 – Draco (Dragonheart)
This movie from 1996 may now be hidden in the forgotten film vault, but at the time it’s effects were top-notch. I’m a fan of the Sean Connery-voiced dragon. Draco ended up being the last of his kind and was even willing to die himself to take down an evil king. He selflessly shared a heart with a dying child who ended up becoming a tyrant. Basically, he shared a heart with Joffrey from Game of Thrones. Though Draco’s size is impressive, he only ever had a taste for sheep, and was not a threat to man. Does anyone else miss Sean Connery?
2 – Falkor (The Neverending Story)
While Falkor resembles a giant poodle-weiner dog mix, he is a bonafide luckdragon. It says a lot about me that I wanted my own personal Falkor as a kid, so that I could chase bullies down alleyways while riding the wingless luckdragon. Falkor doesn’t necessarily have any specific powers. He doesn’t even really bring luck to anyone else, he just manages to be lucky. He did save Atreyu from the swamps of sadness, so that raises his credibility. The best part about Falkor in the first Neverending Story movie is that the effects are so bad, you never see Falkor below the neck while he’s in flight. Essentially, Atreyu or Bastian are just sitting atop a mechnical bull with a dog’s head.
Fun fact: Falkor is voiced by Allen Oppehnheimer, who also voiced Skeletor and Mighty Mouse.
1 – Smaug (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
The second Hobbit movie brought the quintessential dragon to film. There was a lot of pressure to make the legendary Smaug look realistic. Whether or not you love the Hobbit movies, you can’t argue about the impressiveness of Smaug. It doesn’t hurt that he is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch either. I love that Smaug could destroy Middle Earth if he ever felt like it, but instead just takes over a mountain kingdom and sleeps for a few hundred years. It will take years and some creativity for any movie to every take down Smaug as the best cinematic dragon.
Sorry for not including Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. It didn’t feel right including a flying salamander on my list.