The Last Dragon: A Sci-fi Fantasy Movie - Genuine *Science* fiction Documentary

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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