A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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.
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