"Dragonkeeper" is So Bor...Oh Hey, Dragons!

Dragon Keeper

Director: Salvador Simó, Li Jianping
Studio: Viva Kids
Genre(s): Fantasy
Rated: PG (For violence, thematic elements and scary images)

One of the things that stood out to me when watching the new animated feature "Dragonkeeper" is how easy Disney makes creating quality family films look. Here is a movie that takes obvious inspiration from "Mulan" and "Aladdin." There are several characters and scenes that seem to be almost lifted from those films (including a finale where the main antagonist turns into a giant red dragon). The story beats are there and everything about the movie mimics Disney films as best as it can, yet the final product feels like a cheap Chinese knockoff.

Maybe that's because it is. The film is a co-production between China and Spain, and according to the film's credits, five production companies contributed to the making of the movie while two distributors were also involved. There were also two directors, four writers, and one producer. After all of these people were done it felt like a movie where the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. The story itself can't even figure out if it's supposed to be whimsical, thrilling, or somber. 

The story revolves around a girl named Ping, who is a servant girl of no notable stature. She manages to come across a dragon's egg though, and before she knows it the dragons have entrusted her with getting the egg to a safe location so it can be hatched. She is joined on this journey by the father of the egg, who is voiced by a very bored-sounding Bill Nighy. I mention this only because there is nothing else of interest to know about the dragon, and most of his screen time is of him telling Ping that the journey can not be completed without her (and then proceeds to not explain exactly why that is).

The main problem with this movie is that it is boring and uninspired. It doesn't help that the animation is stiff and lifeless, but the fact that the character's dialog is mostly stilted exposition makes the movie a true bore to sit through. Not even the kids in my screening seemed all that interesting. Like Disney's own "Wish" last year, I could see where the inspiration from the classics were on the screen, it just didn't matter because the references were just that: references to better films that you could be watching right now (and that I would prefer writing about, so let's call that the end of this review).