In the last years of the age of magic, at the dawn of the age of logic, the power magic is waining. Carolinus, the Green Wizard of the Earth wishes to create a hidden realm to which magical beings can retreat; while Solarius the Blue Wizard of space and the depths, and Lo Tae Zhao The Golden Wizard of the sky are in agreement, Ommadon The Red Wizard of Darkness (Voiced by James Earl Jones) instead wishes to bide his time until man falls, and use his evil magic to concur the world of man. In order to build the hidden realm without the agreement of all four wizards, a quest must be waged to seize Ommadon’s red crown, and so a trio must be put together to undertake the task.
From his own acquaintance, Carolinus selects Gorbash, a young and enthusiastic dragon, and brave knight Sir Orrin. Turning to antiquity to select a third, a 20th Century scientist turned board-game creator (and dragon nut) , Peter Dickinson (John Ritter on fine form) is chosen to be pulled back in time and lead the quest.
One moment that sticks in my head, comes from Sir Orrin, who is in (unrequited) love with Carolinus’ adopted daughter. We learn in flashback met her when he was an adult (he was already out questing and being a knight) and see was five years old… And that he immediately vowed that he would fall in love with her “once she was old enough, of course”.
The book on which the movie is based (or one of the books, in truth the movie takes most of its plot from “The Dragon and The George”) is a ‘speculative natural history’ book, which means we get a great pseudo-scientific explanation for much of the ‘magic’ in the story including why dragons breath fire and, of course, how they fly.
Creepy not-technically-pedophillia asside, It’s on the points of magic vs science that the movie lets itself down; one minute it’s giving us explanations as to how the magic isn’t really magical, the next minute it seems that magic is real, but that science somehow makes it go away. Indeed the climactic ‘battle’ between Peter and Ommadon boils down to this, and is the movies weakest moment.
The animation and art styles are very reminiscent of the 80’s ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ cartoon, solid enough, but nothing spectacular; somthing which is true for most of the movie. I had high hopes for this but, a few stellar voice performances aside, it’s a fairly middle of the road kids fantasy. It’ll kill an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon (especially if you have kids) but I wouldn’t put much time and effort into tracking it down.
Shut up and eat your limestone!