December 18, 2021
Cute Christmas story with a medieval fantasy appeal
We watch this movie every year in December. It's my favorite Christmas movie (and my son's). It's definitely a low-budget fantasy film with a predictable plot; and B-level but passable acting, costumes and filming shooting; but overall it had a solid and wholesome message about Christmas spirit and good winning out over evil. There's a lot of kid-appeal especially when the kids outwit the bad guys with Saturday morning cartoon level of hijinks. It's a fun, silly twist on the traditional Christmas movie, and the dragon is very cute. There are some darker themes, such as when the main character loses her parents at the beginning and kids being "sold" as apprentices to the mines, but just like in Dicken's "A Christmas Carol," the happy ending would be greatly diminished without setting up the loss and tragedies in the beginning. It's definitely not Lord of the Rings, but it never pretends to be. If you like medieval fantasy films, this one is a fun, silly, non-religious family-friendly Christmas film with a Never Ending Story level of appeal.
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December 16, 2018
Not ALL Bad, My Kids Like It
Yes, this movie is a stinker. It's ridiculous in many ways, for example, it seems to take place in Northern Europe in the days of the solstice before Christmas, but it is somehow light out 16 hours a day and balmy warm. The uneven accents are astoundingly laughable. The poverty stricken orphans have gorgeous, fantastic clothes and footwear. The plot is confusing. The characters thinly drawn. There are no people of color or disability. The mash-up of genres is baffling. Is there a real moral? And yet - yet - my kids like this movie. The violence is not too violent, it's really Disney cartoon violence in live action. The scary parts aren't too scary and in fact seem to be just scary enough that my 8 year old enjoyed them because she felt comfortable knowing that the main characters would be all right. (The opening scene with marauders, a dragon, and parents dying, is the worst of it. The rest is mostly brawls with Home Alone-style stunts thrown in) The main characters in the band of adventurers stand up for and support each other. The children are brave, there are good strong female characters. What really struck me, what buoys it and keeps it from complete failure, is how much the movie feels very much like something a kid might think of. For example, the lack of verisimilitude that sinks it for an adult is overlooked and by kids. It's goofy, and the kids don't care.