Film Corner: Dragonquest

We probably won't be able to do this in one sitting because I have to drag myself to D&D tonight, but for the time we have together right now I bring you: DRAGONQUEST. Which I'm...pretty sure we haven't watched yet.

"When an ancient warlord summons a mythological beast, a young hero must complete a series of quests to awaken the dragon that will defeat the monster." So apparently the dragon is a good guy in this one! Bets on what the naughty beast will be? A portentously hooded man pours blood into the Grand Canyon. It summons...well, it looks like a dragon, Bob. Made of smoke and flame, yes, but still a dragon.

Somewhere, a protagonist is under a patchwork quilt. I like that. We don't see enough quilts in these movies. O-ho! I have been played for a fool! The protagonist does not sleep under his lovingly quilted quilt, but has instead slipped out the bedroom window for likely shenanigans. He has...a tiny spy glass. He's...using the spy glass to peep on a girl. He may or may not be smoking pixie dust; I'm not clear on that part AT ALL. We have entered creepy peeping tom territory, this is not a drill. Can I have a new protagonist, please? How does he even OWN a spy glass, those aren't exactly standard issue for fantasy villages!!

His grandfather drags him home and gives him a gaudy necklace from, idk, a church swap meet. No explanation is given except that a vague evil is coming. A random villager shows up to spout portentous warnings. "The red sun. You cannot deny the prophecy." Granddad is like don't tell me about the Old Magic, bitch; I've been there and you've only seen the map. I'm at peace with the fact that I have no idea what is going on.

Ark's fancy new pendant is glowing, so that's a thing. And the entire horizon is now on fire. A fire dragon--it's basically a dragon-shaped Balrog, complete with wings--touches down and hypnotizes Ark. Grandpa jumps in with magic (I guess he's a wizard?) and dies from terminal fake accent. Apparently the pendant is supposed to hold Virtue Stones (??) and a warrior named Maxim might know where to find those.

I guess there's an ancient order of middle aged guys who care about the necklace but not so much that they want to know where it is or who has it? One of them went upstairs and is now...talking to a king? What an efficient setting: villagers downstairs, king on the second floor. I like how everyone, EVERYONE, is calling the old wizard "Grandfather". That's his name. People talk about him that way. He has no other name. The KING is calling him Grandfather, even. The king also seems to be teleporting between scenes as needed.

Ark is all "I'm supposed to find a guy named Maxim and maybe some stones? Idk." King is like "I BELIEVE IN YOU. MY MEN WILL BUY YOU TIME." I thought he meant they were gonna fight the smoke-dragon, but an opposing army has shown up. The king just stabbed himself rather than talk any further with the smoke-dragon, and I've had conversations like that.

...oh Jesus.

[Racism] Two Black men with war-paint on their faces try to rob the protagonist. He's saved by...well, she looks like Gal Godot in her Amazon leathers and she's dual-wielding billyclubs / nightsticks. She's a woman in male-authored fantasy so she swings between motherly protection of the protagonist to kneeing him in the crown jewels in the space of a few lines. He tells her he needs to find Maxim and she runs off, I assume because she knows exactly who that is. She knew who "Grandfather" was. I can't get over that.

The light hearted Ren Faire flute music feels wrong for this scene.

Ark has gotten himself kidnapped by an unknown man. This is a very CROWDED forest. Oh. It's Maxim. Well, that wasn't too hard to find him. Ok so... there was a Brotherhood of Virtue... but one of their members left to learn the Dark Arts... and he's seeking the Stone of Antithesis. I didn't make up any of that. That's what it's actually called. "Stone of Antithesis". Help. That's not... Antithesis just means opposite. You might as well call it the Stone of Opposition. Hell, Stone of Opposition would be a better name because at least it has a connotation of active resistance.

The stones of virtue are: patience, chastity, diligence, temperance, charity, and kindness. Yes, this will be on the quiz. I guess there's a humility one, too? I'm not sure.

Maxim and Katya are screaming at Ark to TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY and YOU MUST SUCCEED, but even I have no idea what he's supposed to be doing. Collecting the stones? I guess? Maxim's facial expressions are AMAZING, it's like he's having a brand new emotion with every speaking line and he's not allowed to reuse an emotion that's already been used. IMDB tells me this is Marc Singer, the Beastmaster. I've never seen over-acting this awful before. I think it's supposed to be funny. In a better written movie it might've been? BUT ALAS.

We're going to train Ark to fight in a day, I guess because it will come in handy later. But for now I have to go get dressed.


I'm sorry it took so long for me to get back to this one; I know everyone was on the edge of their seats wanting to know if Ark would.... what is he trying to do? Find the Virtue Stones and put them in his necklace? And this will in some way.... help?

We're at a tiny bog about 5 feet square. The first stone was "lost" in it. Ark is planning to jump in. Oh, it has a giant worm with teeth in it. That would have been a nice thing to, you know, warn the protagonist about. Maxim is one of THOSE mentors, I see. This kid has been "underwater" for two minutes and he's not even trying to pretend he's holding his breath. Puff your cheeks, dude! Something!

He's now......smoking his pipe underwater. HOW IS HE TALKING AND SMOKING HIS PIPE UNDERWATER?


He can't succeed unless he "embodies the virtues" so he gives up smoking. This is all an elaborate anti-smoking-of-pixie-dust Public Service Announcement.

Somewhere, someone whose name I do not know faces down the smoke-dragon with a sword. The Hooded Bad Guy demands to be told the name of the keeper. The bad guy is the only actor I really recognize, which is interesting. Why do these B-movies always have a recognizable bad guy? I guess being the villain is a better part than being protagonist?

Hooded Bad Guy has mind control powers, which seems unfair. If you can literally hypnotize people into strangling themselves to death with their bare hands (a feat which I thought was impossible) then why do you even need a smoke-dragon?

A woman with twizzler stick candies for fingernails is giving everyone hugs.

Ark is demanding that the Girl explain why *she* isn't the Keeper since he doesn't like being it very much, what with it being sorta hard, and omg both she and I want to murder him for his casual privilege. It's interesting to me that Broseph Campbell felt like "Refusal of the Call" was such a vital building block of story, because it feels like a VERY white male privilege thing to be able to turn down saving the world because it's haaaard.

I feel like I've seen someone else talk about this--@CAwkward? @Artists_Ali?--and how marginalized people either have to wrest the call away from others (if the call is prestigious and therefore not or *us*) or we get the call laden onto us as a "fix this" like everything else. It was @ShaulaEvans! Thank you, Shaula, and thank you, @CAwkward for remembering.

Elderly Twizzler Finger Lady is telling Ark and Girl that they'll have to snuggle for warmth, and now Girl is shyly explaining Ark's own necklace to him, so I guess we're going to have a romance inflicted on us.

....a naked blonde in a bathtub has appeared to lure the hero. I guess this is the chastity test? Maybe? I don't know. He just apologized and walked off. Yeah, okay, it's the next morning and the twizzler-finger lady is giving him the chastity stone since he didn't go to bonetown with the bathtub girl. I........yay? I think it's silly to hinge the fate of the world on slut-shaming, but what do I know.

@liminalfruitbat. Strange women lying in bathtubs distributing jewels is no basis for a system of defeating the dark lord!

Somewhere, a man I don't know is instructed to find and stop the Keeper. I really don't have a good handle on the stakes here. What is the bad guy trying to do, exactly? He hasn't done anything so far except torch one small village. Ark has gotten himself kidnapped while Maxim and Girl slept. They're on a mission to save the world and didn't set a damn watch? He's been chained up in a dungeon but otherwise....left alone? Why....did someone take him if they didn't want him for something? Why is he here?

Okay, he was combination Rescued / Escaped. One of the guys he helped rescue has given him gold. That was a very pointless interlude-- oh, christ, they're giving him the Diligence stone for THAT? All he did was lay in a bunch of straw and hit a stone on his manacles for hours! I could do that, dammit, and I'm not virtuous at all! I thought maybe it was going to be a greed test, like he'd have to turn down the gold. But nope!

A special effect spider of uncertain scale has appeared, but it just sorta walked right past Ark without reacting. God forbid something interesting happen, I guess? HE GETS A STONE FOR JUST STANDING THERE WHILE IT WALKED BY? OH COME ON!!!! That would be the virtue of being boring as fuck? This is such a weird movie? It's a series of fetch quests and tests, but the quests come to him and the tests are "passed" each time by him basically doing nothing. A corpse could pass these tests!

I mean, this is the problem with the 7 virtues, I guess? Most of them are inherently passive? Chastity is...not having sex. Temperance is...not doing too much of one thing or another. And so on. Well, he's gotten himself captured (again) and it's nearing the end of the movie; what do you want to bet his mentor gets killed and/or his girl gets kidnapped or turned evil?

We have Wounded Mentor. I repeat, Mentor is wounded and staggering away. Everyone knows Mentors are like wild animals in that they like to find a quiet place to die alone, once mortally wounded. ...Nope, he's down. Didn't make it very far, I'm afraid. The judges aren't impressed, Brian.

Girl has betrayed Ark, stolen the stones while he slept, and immediately gotten herself captured because this is what happens when girls try to be heroes. She's......apparently hypnotized into being Anastasia Steele to the villain. So that's just great, obviously. Strong female charactering. Oh, but we can't complain because as long as the Protagonist and the Villain aren't in her line of sight, then she can take on any number of armed mooks. *eyes roll into the next state*

Meanwhile, the Protagonist and the Villain pontificated at each other for a bit and now Ark has a shiny blue Virtue Dragon to fight the smoky one. Why? I do not know.

That was possibly the least suspenseful movie I have ever seen? At no point in the fetch quest plot did I feel the slightest sense of concern for the characters, nor interest in what I am graciously calling the narrative.


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