Movie Review: “Dragon Hunters” (2008)


Title: Dragon Hunters (2008) (IMDb) (Chasseurs de dragons in its original French)
Director: Guillaume Ivernel and Arthur Qwak
Voice Actors (US dub): Forest Whitaker, Rob Paulsen, Mary Mouser
Score Composer: Klaus Badelt (of Pirates of the Caribbean fame)
Length: about 80 minutes, but it sure feels longer
Rating (US): PG for “scary images, fantasy action, and language”
Spoiler-free Synopsis: A pair of oddball conmen who pretend to be dragon hunters are guilt-tripped by a little princess into going on a quest to the End of the World to kill the mighty World-Gobbler, a great dragon that periodically wakes up to rampage and…well, just to rampage, I guess.
Reason for Watching: It was free On-Demand, I was bored, and I like to explore lesser known movies every once in awhile.
Movie Re-watchability: Bleh, low. Kids might like it and the art design is very interesting, but it disappoints in pretty much every other category.
Director Re-watchability: According to IMDb, Ivernel hasn’t directed anything else, and Qwak only has a little bit of French TV directing under his belt. I will be very surprised if this movie leads to any other decent gigs for them.
Recommendation: Nope, not worth your time. Oh, it’s harmless enough, I suppose. The background art is pretty neat, even surreal. But the story’s a mess of clichés ill-handled, pointless action sequences that aren’t very well-edited, a potentially interesting world that is poorly developed, and slapstick humor that ranges from mildly amusing to annoying. And the ending is bungled awkwardly. A better animated kids movie about dragons is How to Train Your Dragon.

Key Thoughts

There is one reasonably effective sequence in Dragon Hunters. Gwizdo, normally the comic relief, has been humiliated by his own cowardice (he was too scared to even try to help save the young princess Zoe while they were being chased by a swarm of tiny dragons) and had an argument with his best friend, Lian-chu, about the probably-fatal nature of their quest. Depressed and feeling worthless, he walks away through an apocalyptic landscape of floating rocks and little islands with abandoned ruins on them, the whole gray world seeming to fall apart around him, while an emotional, evocative song plays over the striking imagery. Then two talking creatures appear, the music jerks to a stop, Gwizdo opens his grating mouth again, and we’re back to normal. But for about 30 seconds, I could almost take the character’s emotions seriously.

Not the actual scene I'm talking about, but the one I meant looks similar.

Ah, characters. If your movie spends 90% of its time with just three characters (and burbling blue rabbit-thing), those characters should be interesting and likable. Our main duo is Lian-chu and Gwizdo, the former a slow-witted gentle giant who does all the hard work, and the latter his shrimpy wise-cracking “friend” who is constantly trying to sell their services as dragon-slayers to needy townsfolk, only to repeatedly get cheated after defeating the monsters because the townsfolks don’t think they are “credible” warriors. Lian-chu is a nice fellow, but he’s not given any depth beyond his love of knitting, which his mother taught him before she died in an attack by the World Gobbler when he was a kid. Otherwise, he’s the standard big guy with muscles who would rather just own a sheep farm and knit sweaters for people. (Is that a standard? I’m sure it is, somewhere.) Gwizdo, however, is as annoying and nonsensical as his name. He’s one of those pipsqueaks who never stop talking even though they have nothing to say. His character arc supposedly ends with him learning to love the little girl Zoe and be brave enough to support Lian-chu in the final fight, but it’s all pretty dumb and forced. And Zoe herself? She’s the spunky little girl who wants to be a “girl knight” and can’t stop bouncing in spasms of joy how “unreal” it is that Gwizdo and Lian-chu are willing to take her on their quest and away from her boring, blind old uncle, Lord Arnold. I greatly sympathized with Gwizdo when he grew so annoyed with her he wanted to wring her twig of a neck.

Eh...do we *have* to spend 80 minutes with these guys? Their bodily proportions weird me out.

Oh yeah, this is also one of those movies where an annoying kid gets to tag along on an extremely dangerous, suicidal mission, despite all logic and attempts to the contrary on the part of the adults. Does anyone realize how bad this message is? I want my niece and nephews to grow up to be brave and active, too, but no kid should think it’s okay for them to run away from home and go on a deadly quest because “the power of belief” will give them victory. And if they join up with two strangers who lie, are incompetent, and won’t immediately take them home (regardless of the little kid’s protests), they shouldn’t believe that their innocence and joie de vivre will turn those schmucks into heroes. What rot.

But why spend digital ink taking something seriously when it doesn’t even view itself with much respect? Let’s look at the movie’s biggest virtue, its visuals. They’re pretty neat. The whole world is full of gray and silver clouds in which float rocky islands of various sizes, some barely small enough for a dog to sit on, others able to support massive castles and sprawling landscapes. Like the Hallelujah Mountains of Avatar taken to an extreme, and lacking any sort of explanation. And some of the islands are actually just balls of dirt and grass that appear to have their own subjective gravity. Characters hop onto them and can run on every side of these house-sized spheres, even upside down, and then leap off onto a flat-topped island when they please. Gravity goes out of its way to accommodate the whims of the characters, which is probably why they never seem to care that they are often mere feet away from sheer drops into an endless cloudy abyss. The islands drift often and break into pieces without warning, meaning you could wake up one morning to find your campsite (and friends) many miles away. This danger never seems to register with our heroes, but oh well. It looks cool.

More of this. The movie needed more of this. The background, that is, not Gwizdo. Dear me, not Gwizdo!

So the design of the world is bold and neat, but I found too many scenes were dark and dingy in appearance, obscuring details and preventing me from really enjoying the full artistry on display. The scenes in broad daylight show pleasingly bright colors, but an alarming amount of the movie takes place at night, in dimly shadowed areas (like the castle and the forest), and in a gray wasteland of ruins under an overcast sky. For me, the occasional moody look was not worth the feeling of details obscured and lost animated potential. The contrast between the colorful daylight scenes and the depressing grayness that saturates most of the film is also too drastic – it feels like two different art styles were crammed together. Likewise the more realistic, almost gritty design of the buildings contrasts too much with the extremely goofy, stylized look of the characters. The blue rabbit-thing, while amusing and less annoying than Gwizdo and Zoe, nonetheless feels like he comes from a completely different movie; maybe Despicable Me (another superior adventure to this).

The whole aesthetic is confused. Sometimes it wants to be a surreal take on European fairy tales, sometimes it wants to be sort of Chinese, and then it just goes all bubbly modern kiddy-movie kitsch (again, the blue rabbit-thing, which I actually sort of liked). Look at the names: Arnold, Zoe, Gwizdo, and Lian-chu – all belonging to humans living in the same culture and kingdom! And the music, too. Sometimes it’s got a neat Celtic flair, other times it shifts into a very far-Eastern melody, but most of the time it’s the basic bombastic action epic stuff that hits our pulses but is instantly forgettable. And the frustrating thing is that this mix could be really inventive and fun if the movie would have gone far enough with its inspirations. Instead, it just toys with them before falling back into tired clichés and stylistic choices that lack meaning.

Mostly very cool, but the World Gobbler's exaggerated round snout really ruins his menace. He's like a reject from "How to Train Your Dragon" rather than a fearsome monster in his own right.

The ending is bungled, too. For a minute after the climax, it’s the standard happy ending, which is fine. It should have ended there. But then the trio goes back to Lord Arnold’s castle (he gave Lian-chu and Gwizdo the quest to kill the World-Gobbler) and he inexplicably acts like a big jerk, refusing to pay the heroes their promised reward and sending Zoe to her room (a mild punishment for disobeying orders by running off on a suicidal quest with strangers, actually). He gets told off, and then Zoe escapes from her room to go live with the two men on the sheep farm they are going to start. Then it ends. More than a little unsettling, if you ask me. Sure, we’re supposed to believe that Lian-chu and Gwizdo are super innocent happy dudes, but the idea that this little girl is going to live with two immature men she barely knows while abandoning her one living blood relative who, while a jerk, stills seems to care for her wellbeing and provide for her pretty decently just seems wrong. And a tad bit creepy.

Plus, the pacing of that ending is way off. Instead of ending on an emotional high (of whatever emotion is present in the movie), we’re jerked back into a slightly melancholy and irritated state by Lord Arnold’s bizarrely jerkish behavior and our heroes’ inability to get any respect (I mean, Gwizdo is still a loser, but at least Lian-chu deserves some respect). So we’ve got a creepy, family-unfriendly message paired with bad pacing – two horrible cinematic sins!

Dragon Hunters had a shot at being something special, I think, but it goes out of its way to attempt stale Disney-ish formulas, with little wit or imagination to compensate. It doesn’t explore its unique world, it fails to surprise or delight, its characters are uninspired and sometimes aggravating, and it can’t make up its mind about its art style or its story. I give the makers praise for trying, but they didn’t quite succeed this time. I didn’t hate the movie, but I can’t say my time was well spent seeing it.

Credits
Screencaps from DVDBeaver.com

And Sir Lensflare. The movie could have used more of Sir Lensflare. (Seriously, that's his name.)
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Author: David

I’m a young Christian American reader writer dreamer wanderer walker flier listener talker scholar adventurer musician word-magician romantic critic religious idealist optipessimist man.

48 thoughts on “Movie Review: “Dragon Hunters” (2008)”

  1. One night early this semester, the rain was pouring down and I came home with a powerful desire to watch a dragon movie. (Really, a movie with a lot of warm, cracking fire. But dragon flames were prefered.)

    This was the only dragon movie on netflix.

    We watched it. With whiskey.

    And many exclamations of shock, horror, disbelief, and hilarity were uttered. We concluded that the creators had to be high on something.

    It was a fun romp. I am pleased that dragons are not made into sweet but misunderstood beasts; there is a definite evil. But I would never share it with kids.

    There was also a disappointing lack of fire.

    1. I agree, not enough fire. Whisky disagrees with my palate (rather, they tend to bare-knuckle brawl whenever they meet), but I could see it being a welcome companion for a movie like this (as would good friends such as you Egotists). You’re right, it might’ve been worse had the dragons talked or been cuddly! We must count or blessings. There are many, many better movies for kids, and even some that contain good dragons. (and fire!)

  2. This poor movie really did suffer from having a mostly annoying cast of characters. Even the little girl who was supposed to be cute was frustrating. And I’m kind of relieved I wasn’t the only one who found the ending a bit creepy.

    I wanted to like the idea that the little girl, with her belief in fairy-tale heroes, could make those two “shmucks” become heroes themselves, but something just wasn’t right. The movie kept doing things that I wanted to like, but never really came through.

    I like your caption for that second photo. To quote Crow T. Robot from MST3K, “No, these can’t be the heroes of the film, can they? Movie? Movie! Can I see your supervisor, movie, this will NOT stand!” As much as my interest in anime and manga/graphic novels has trained me to be able to look past an unusual, initially off-putting art style if the story is good, I was, as you say, pretty weirded out by the crazy proportions of these characters. While style can be largely a matter of personal taste, it’s not good when it distracts a viewer from the story. Though sadly in this case, the story and characters weren’t good enough to make up for the weird character designs.

    I think this movie may be most enjoyable when watched with others; I know the most fun I had was exclaiming over its sheer strangeness with my friends.

    Oh, and by the way, it looks like there’s also an animated TV series based on the same story and created by Qwak (what an unfortunate last name!). I noticed it on Netflix when we watched the movie. The description makes it sound like a somewhat different take on the story, though with the same characters. I don’t know if it would be any better, but I’m not going to bet on it.

    1. Aye, though I don’t blame the makers 100% for the wonky character designs, since I think they were just following (and exaggerating) the prevailing trend. While I liked How to Train Your Dragon, I really disliked the human designs — the long round chins, the gawky feet, twiggy necks, etcetera. They pulled me out of the story. It’s one of my great fears about Pixar’s Brave — the story seems great, but it’s got the same wonky over-the-top character designs that I fear will work against the magic of the story. Still…fingers crossed!

        1. It is, yeah. It just seems that all mainstream animated movies of the past decade have more or less followed a very similar design aesthetic, excepting maybe the Shrek movies and Pixar’s output. I’d like to see a little more variety, I guess — but I also tend to prefer more realistic designs, like those of the earliest Disney movies.

          1. True, the current American animation aesthetic is really kind of strange.

            For a while when Disney put out a feature animated film every year or so, they would use a slightly different animation style for each movie. I thought that was pretty cool. What did you think of Tangled? I loved it. I wasn’t initially sure that it would feel like it fit in with their past fairy tale movies because it was 3D rather than 2D animation, but I thought the animation turned out really beautifully, and not overly stylized.

            1. I haven’t seen Tangled yet! I want to, and I really want to see The Princess and the Frog. The trailer for Tangled looked fun, but didn’t feel very “Disney” at all — it looked like it was trying to be very “hip” and such, like a DreamWorks picture. But then everyone said it was a really neat movie with a good story and all, so that bolstered my hopes.

  3. Hmm, I thought it was sufficiently Disney; it has all the classic Disney songs. Go forth and see it! I loved it a lot, and would say more, but I really don’t want to let out spoilers. But I can say that the two main characters, Rapunzel and Flynn, are delightful and very likable, the art and music is beautiful, and it’s nearly everything I believe a good fairy story should be. Oh, and castle village at the end reminds me of my favorite renaissance faire.

    1. I enjoyed Tangled as well, despite one scene. I was not expecting to like it, but was pleasantly surprised. I was very impressed, actually, with the villain. Go watch it, David! I do not doubt that we would all enjoy discussing it with your.

        1. *ahem* Not technically, no. A couple of years ago it was on TV and I saw some of it, enough to be pretty sure that I love it, but I haven’t yet managed to see the whole thing. I will, though, don’t worry. I will.

            1. Nooo! Lady Hawke’s soundtrack is the most beautiful example of ’80s orchestral-rock-synth fantasy soundtrack ever! Okay, actually, I understand completely that it can be pretty jarring, particularly because this movie is supposed to be set in medieval times. But I LOVE ’80s movies with their crazy soundtracks, so for me, the music is an extra reason I like this movie. I have to admit, I asked about Lady Hawke because I listened to the soundtrack the other night while I was studying.

              1. Ah, ok! ok!
                My first seven years of life were spent in the 80’s, and I have no objections to 80’s music or film soundtracks in general. As you note, my issue is with the music’s place in the film.
                I find it incongruous and extremely distracting. If I listened to the soundtrack on its own, I might have a very different reaction to it (and probably would, at that). I imagine I might have a similar reaction if I went to see The Hobbit and found it set to German Techno (Don’t get any ideas, Jackson… I’m watching you…).

                1. I watched the film again last night because, well, it had been a while and this conversation made me want to. I do believe that Goliath is the most beautiful horse ever to be seen on film. *happy sigh*

                  1. I think you’re right about the horse. 😀 BTW, when I first saw Bladerunner I was kind of upset because Rutger Haur plays a creepy cyborg assassin in it. Navarre! Nooo!

            2. Haha, I was waiting to see what Urania’s reaction would be. She sent me the end theme awhile ago, and I admit I really like it. When I saw parts of the movie on TV, I do remember thinking that the music could be jarring, but also it sometimes well represented the emotions onscreen, if not the time period. And sometimes emotion trumps historicity. +) Sometimes.

  4. Arrgh, morning typing fail.

    I saw the Dragon Hunters too, and I agree with your estimation. There were moments I liked, but it never held together… like a piece of french toast that falls apart on the griddle…

    1. *gets spoon* Doggone it, Imma eat that simile.

      *ahem* Returning to a semblance of dignity…yeah, all agreed. It had potential, but not the guts to follow through on it. I’m excited to review The Secret of Kells, though. I just watched it and loved it — it does have the guts to be something unique and special. In fact, it’s kind of like one of those Gobelins short films that I post about, only feature-length with a coherent story.

  5. Escaping the skinny-post syndrome by starting a new thread. In reply to “Haha, I was waiting to see what Urania’s reaction would be. She sent me the end theme awhile ago, and I admit I really like it. When I saw parts of the movie on TV, I do remember thinking that the music could be jarring, but also it sometimes well represented the emotions onscreen, if not the time period. And sometimes emotion trumps historicity. +) Sometimes.”

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are times in the film when the music works. There are also, in my opinion, times when it really, really doesn’t. The music during the action sequences is probably the worst for me. In spite of the issues I have with the soundtrack, though, Ladyhawke is a wonderful fairytale.

    1. I think I told you about Diana Wynne Jones’ book _The Tough Guide to Fantasyland_, right? One of the entries is on “Color Coding.” Jones writes:

      “Color coding is very important in Fantasyland. Always pay close attention to the color of the clothing, hair, and eyes of anyone you meet. It will tell you a great deal.”

      She goes on to talk about the meanings of the colors of clothing, hair, and eyes. For hair, she writes:

      “Black hair is Evil, particularly if combined with a corpse-white complexion. Red hair always entails magical powers, even if these are only latent. Brown hair has to be viewed in combination with eyes, whose colors are the real giveaway. Fair hair, especially if it is silver-blond, always means goodness.”

      I think this is probably evidence of a past fiction trend; right now, the trend has reversed, and silver-blond hair now almost *always* indicates Evil. (Also, poor Morpheus from Sandman…He’s not evil, but he does have black hair and pale pale white skin.) Anyways, I think fiction tropes are super fun. Enjoy them, follow them, subvert them!

  6. Yep! I do think there was a dramatic shift in the “color coding” within the last 50 years. I had a friend complain to me, once, about how the fair-haired chap always got the girl, and he and I ended up having a bit of an argument about it as I had seen the opposite to be true. I wonder, now, if it had to do with our age-gap.
    If you aren’t already familiar with it, be careful, tvtropes is an addictive website. I agree with your estimation of tropes, too!

    I amuse myself, occasionally, by considering what people I know would be in stock-fantasy-land. If I went just by appearances, things would be very messed up.

    1. Aye, I don’t think the color-coding goes one-way anymore. We’re used to blond people as evil, rich, and arrogant, but we’re also used to them as heroes. Dark-haired folk get to be anything due to their prevalence. Redheads might still be trapped into the stereotypes, though — wild, fiery, always extra special. While red hair is strikingly beautiful, I admit I get tired of fantasy stories that always throw in a red-haired princess, especially since said princess is often the only red-haired person around!

      When I write, the physical appearance of the character is fairly important, but I try to shy away from the most expected stereotypes. I don’t want anyone to predict what any of my characters are like by their physical appearance alone.

      1. People will always predict and guess, and sometimes they will be right out of sheer luck. If we are aware of the tropes, though, it is easier to play with them in-story and throw people for a loop. I need to finish my post on tropes… if only I can find the time! I need the necromancers in my head to calm down first, though. Until they shut up, I need to be writing story-things… and gardening. The gardening isn’t related to the necromancers, thankfully… Spring just happened to show up early.

        wooo… bunnytrails. It is time for Anne to go to bed.

    2. Yes, whenever a book-jacket describes a red-head as “fiery,” I just want to find the person who wrote that and smack them. Can we make an exception for Raederle? I like her, despite the fact that she’s a magic wielding princess who insists on being brought along on adventures. Which is admittedly a cliche and she could be really annoying, but I think McKillip manages to avoid the annoying. Actually, Riddlemaster is kind of an example of what Jones was saying about coloring. Morgan is blond and he’s the hero. Raederle the red-head is a magic user. Though Deth, with that silver hair of his, is almost, well… I won’t give spoilers. He’s kind of between camps, though.

      Oh yes, TV Tropes is lots of fun. It’s easy to spend a lot of time just rabbit-trailing entries.

      Hmm, I don’t know what I’d end up as in Fantasyland. I fancy myself as a wood elf, but I’m too short to be a conventional elf. We need to start a movement of short elves! Maybe.

      1. We can definitely make an exception for Raederle. In fact, that was one of the first things I really began to like about “The Riddlemaster Trilogy” — the fact that despite being a redheaded, strong-willed princess, Raederle felt warm and real and not annoying. She wasn’t “fiery” even, just smart and strong. She made sense.

        My elves used to be shorter than the average human. Then I started reading more Tolkien and I wasn’t so sure. Honestly, a lot of that is up in the air, regarding the wood elves of my novel-in-progress, as I’ve been considering the merits of giving them more otherworldly, dryad-like qualities. I don’t want them to just be like humans, but better, you know?

        1. Yeah, when I first met Raederle, I thought, “Oh, no, not one of *these* characters. She’s going to be annoying, isn’t she?” And then she turned out to be quite likable, and I was glad. (P.S. She’s from Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster series. I recommend the books.)

          So, I’m curious about what you mean by “better” than humans. Because I trust your judgment more than to assume you’re going to create a whole race of Mary-Sues! I guess the temptation with elves can be to make them better at everything than humans, but I don’t think this is actually true. They’re better at some crafts than humans are, but then humans understand certain things better than elves do, too. But yes, I agree that if you’re putting elves and humans in the same world, you want a recognizable difference between them. Dryad-ish could be the right direction to go.

          I’m not writing any really serious high fantasy stories at the moment, but my current view on wood elves is that they live closer to nature than humans, by which I think I mean that they view themselves as living more directly connected to the natural world than humans see themselves doing. And perhaps they do small nature-magics, but they’re not going to be tossing fireballs about or anything! I’m not really into flashy stuff in my own fantasy stories.

          As for elves and height, well, I am still really heavily influenced by Tolkien’s tall elves, but I’m sure if you took any of my wood elf characters and stood them next to one of Tolkien’s elves, mine would be shorter. Perhaps mine tend towards being tall, but there are the short ones, too. (I have to leave room for me when I wear my wood elf costume at the ren faire. 😛 ) For e.g. Lithium is tall-ish, but we’ll be nice to Mark and let him be a little taller still. But Lith is a wood elf, and I think if I did end up putting some high elves into their story (I may or may not), they’d be taller than the wood elves.

          1. Well no, I hope I’m not going to create a race of Mary-Sues! That’s what I’m trying to avoid; my goal is to be able to really define the elves as different creatures and a different culture. I get the sense that the fantasy standards are still watered-down variations on Tolkien’s elves — humans, but always fair and pretty and tall, always smarter and wiser in pretty much all areas that matter, better reflexes, far more elegant, better in all the arts, more magical, etc. The Mary Sue elf, basically. I’d say even Tolkien veered somewhat dangerously close to this, but he pulled it off because, I think, he showed them being just as flawed morally as humans, able to be bested by them even in areas where elves are generally stronger, and by clearly delineating the respective fates of Men and Elves. Also, the Curse of Feanor was a great humbler for the elves. Anyway, mine began as D&D imports, basically, but I’m more and more interested in real otherworldliness. Like Aisling, the white fairy/elf in The Secret of Kells (whom you saw in that brief song clip) — it’s implied she’s one of the Tuatha de Danaan, the high elves of Irish lore, but she moves like a ghost, can change shape, and can be frighteningly severe despite her general affability. I haven’t decided yet how otherworldly versus how humanlike my elves will be, but I hope I’ll find a nice balance. Btw, that reminds me, did I ever let you read my short story “Catalyst”? It was the original prologue to my novel that I wrote in high school. Em and Michelle really liked it; Em even singled out my elves as being pretty neat.

            Generally I prefer lower-key magic (being influenced by Sutcliff’s grounded stories), but I’ll be looking for places to get more ostentatious now and again. Occasionally it is fun to just throw a really big fireball. +)

  7. I don’t know Raederle, I fear. David can’t mind fiery redheaded princesses TOO much. After all, I have seen him express a liking for Princess Eilonwy. She is one fiery redheaded stubborn magic princess that I have a distinct fondness for.

    The rabbit trails! I cannot escape them!

    Ah, my elves ARE short, so not trouble there! 😉 Not horrible christmas-elf short, but definitely not Norse-Elf-Tall. I would like to be a dwarf, as I love dwarves, but alas, my physical traits are more traditionally elvish. Ironically, my brother’s traits are more dwarvish and he loves elves, so we just can’t win!

    1. This is true; in fact, it’s pretty impossible not to like Eilonwy, despite her petulance. But I think the poster-girl for a redheaded princess that I *don’t* like is Ce’Nedra, from David Eddings’ Belgariad. The series itself is a lot of fun, but I really grew to hate that character. She was so irritating! Gah!

      1. Ah, Ce’Nedra… I wondered if she would come up. I can’t say I am fond of her, but I don’t mind her because I take her as a parody. I take the whole series (both series) as loving parodies. Of course, when compared to Silk, or Polgara, who are parodies that I am very fond of, Ce’Nedra is left wanting.

        I am not sure what it is about Eilonwy that makes her so endearing. Could it be her process of maturing? But if so, why do I like her from the beginning? She is very transparent, which may be one reason.

        1. That’s a good description of the series. It’s not that Ce’Nedra felt out of place in the story…I just realized how much I hate the extreme version of that cliche. I could never take her seriously, especially when she started donning armor and going all Joan of Arc…but then, Eddings didn’t want us to totally take her seriously, I guess.

          I dunno about Eilonwy. Her maturing is definitely part of it. She is very transparent with her emotions. That’s a big part, actually — I think she was always super honest with her emotions and her thoughts. She didn’t hold much back. I never felt she was a liar and an intentional manipulator like I did with Ce’Nedra. Eilonwy never seemed actually malicious.

  8. Yours seems like a good approach to elves, actually. Lithium’s wood elves are definitely more human than otherworldly, mostly because that’s the kind of elves I feel like writing at the moment.

    No, I haven’t read “Catalyst,” but if you send it to me, I would love to read it.

    True that. Flashy magic is popular because, well, it is very fun. But it can be overdone, so saving it for the right moment is wise.

    1. P.S. And well said on the Tolkien elves. I think, also, that Tolkien’s elves do have some blind spots that they’re just not aware they have. Like the fact that they perhaps are not as good as humans at living in the moment; they seem to live in the past as much as they do in the present. And they seem incapable of adjusting to change, as humans can. Have you read Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth? It’s an interesting case study in the contrast of the elvish and human perspectives. And so tragical!

  9. On elves: For me the overall world dictates the proper place of creatures and peoples in it, and the creatures in it shape the proper form of the world, which is cyclical, but has worked for me so far. My “universe” has shaped itself in my head slowly, over time, and early on it developed a kind of species-spectrum running from those bound entirely in a physical form, to those for whom a physical form is not even an option, and everything in-between. That means that I think about elves first in terms of where they fall on this spectrum, and from there their cultures form. My elves are more “down to earth” than fairy, because I have various fairies to fill that void, but they must also not be allowed to become just a “prettier” form of human. 🙂

    On Magic: I love reading low-magic stories because of their complexity… I love writing high-magic ones because of their possibilities, but right now I am working on more of a balance. I want a story where the non-magic lifestyle and the magic possibilities blend. Here’s hoping I can develop the skill to do so effectively!

    Eilonwy is very honest, tis true. Even when she expects Taran to know what she is thinking/why she is mad, she honestly believes that he ought to know. I love both the girl she starts out as, and the woman she eventually becomes, which is high praise for Mr. Alexander. Writing a character like that, who is flawed, but likable through all her stages (and doing this with a female character always seems more challenging than with a male) is one of my goals in life.

      1. *Shakes head* I’m torn between admiring your thoroughness in these reviews and wanting to slap you upside the head and tell you to just enjoy it.

        Conversation I had with my brother (who recommended the movie to me):
        “I just read a negative review of Dragon Hunters.”
        “Oh?”
        “Yeah, and it’s somebody who’s opinion I usually respect.”
        “What’d they say?”
        “Oh, that it was a mix of cliches and the characters were annoying.”
        “So?”
        “Exactly!”

        I don’t know what I’m expecting. I mean, if you’re going to review something, you ought to be thorough and accurate (otherwise what’s the point?). And there are some things that just come down to taste (sometimes even mood). So I’d be remiss if I faulted you for anything you said here, or for the style of your reviews in general (that’s why I keep coming back here, after all). But I still want to smack you sometimes.

        I guess I’ll just have to get over it.

        1. Haha, that’s okay, I think most of the people who love me have similar feelings. +) And honestly, I was really trying to like this movie. I didn’t expect some brilliant original fairy story — I’d have been perfectly happy with a goofy but fun little story. I like plenty of dumb movies! And didn’t hate the movie — parts of it were amusing. But it felt like it was trying way too hard. It wasn’t that funny or that charming. I don’t mind a cliche-ridden movie (for kids or adults) as long as they cliches are well-done and interesting. But here, despite a couple interesting elements lurking here and there, it all felt bland and boring to me. There was so much potential! Such a cool, surreal-looking world to be explored! But the filmmakers didn’t even seem to be having fun themselves. It felt like there was some inspired artist who had been working really hard to make everything look great, only to have his creativity undermined by producers/etc. who cared more about being safe and boring in order to make money. So even though I tried to laugh at every instance I could, and had fun enjoying the drifting islands, the movie just made me feel a bit sad and disappointed. My review came off being a little more negative than I actually felt, but I honestly couldn’t think of any other positive things to say about it.

          But I am glad you liked it! I try to be generous to movies, but in cases like this I’m actually glad to find someone who’s more generous to this movie than I was.

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