The Flight of Dragons

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
The Flight of Dragons Movie Poster Image
Imaginative fantasy pits science against magic.
  • NR
  • 1986
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Sorcery and occultism galore.

Violence & Scariness

Sword fighitng, and resulting human casualties. The whole human cast appears to die at one point.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The dragons get drunk on wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids will see sword fighting, causing human casualties. They will also see dragons getting drunk, and, at one point, what appears to be the death of the entire human cast. On the other hand, the video's ongoing magic vs. science debate -- which includes some actual scientific explanations -- really gets kids thinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJonathan S. January 14, 2014

Best animated film about dragons that I've ever seen.

This Rankin/Bass classic is one of their best films ever, hands-down! This film is great for everyone, young and old! Nothing else to say but, go ahead and watc... Continue reading
Adult Written by861138 October 31, 2011

Scariness A Problem, Great Story & Message Though

The animation was a little scary when I first watched it as a kid. The graphics are simple but very detailed like a Arthur Rickman illustration. So when there i... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 10, 2020
Teen, 13 years old Written byGrant Man July 20, 2014


It isn't that bad for younger kids a ok!

What's the story?

In this animated feature, a present-day man is sent back to ancient times to save the dying realms of magic from the Modern Era. In the end, both science and imagination come out winners. As mankind moves away from magic and toward science, the wizard Carolinus (voiced by Harry Morgan) finds his powers weakening, although he's surrounded by dragons, fairies, knights, and princesses. Carolinus's brother, the evil Red Wizard Ommadon (James Earl Jones), offers to help by destroying all of human civilization! To defeat Ommadon, Carolinus summons the one person able to bridge the worlds of science and magic: a 20th-century sci-fi writer named Peter Dickenson (John Ritter). Dickenson relishes his magical quest -- until a spell gone wrong leaves his mind trapped in the body of a friendly dragon named Gorbash.

Is it any good?

Few stories feel both traditional and modern; rarer still is a fairy tale that appeals to middle schoolers. Some of the animation is bland, but the smart story still soars and THE FLIGHT OF DRAGONS is one of the brainiest and imaginative fantasies around. This thought-provoking Rankin-Bass video is drawn from an obscure fantasy novel, The Dragon and the George, by Gordon R. Dickson. When Gorbash offers an enchanting biochemical explanation for fire-breathing dragons, or Carolinus shows off his library of yet-to-be-published books (including The Wizard of Oz), you know you've discovered an unusually savvy and enlightened fairy tale.

There's plenty of daring swordplay -- and lots of dragons -- to please young adventure-lovers, but older viewers have even more to relish. Repeated tributes to the many fields of science are inspiring -- especially during the climax, when Peter combats Ommadon's foul incantations by reciting laws of Newtonian physics. Dramatic theme music and engaging humor add to the appeal. The animation is decent, but not a strong point.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fairy tales. Who are they usually meant to appeal to? What are some of the traditional conventions? How does this one differ from other fairy tales you've seen?

Movie details

  • In theaters: August 3, 1986
  • On DVD or streaming: August 13, 1996
  • Cast: John Ritter
  • Director: Jules Bass
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Run time: 98 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • MPAA explanation: Not Rated
  • Last updated: December 1, 2020

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