10 Must-See Movies About Dragons

How to Train Your Dragon character on the beach
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There are two kinds of dragon movies. In one kind, dragons are the evil creatures everyone's out to slay. In the other, dragons are beasts worthy of friendship and respect who can even be man's best friend. Many films have been made about these fantastic fictional creatures, and here is a sampling of the best dragons to be found on ​the big screen.

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Dragonheart (1996)

If you are in the pro-dragon camp this is probably the film you keep on your shelf. How can you resist Phil Tippett's creature design and Sean Connery providing the voice of the dragon Draco? Dennis Quaid seems a little out of his time period as a dragon-slaying knight who has a change of heart, but Draco makes even adults believe in honor and chivalry. Two direct-to-video sequels followed: Dragonheart: A New Beginning (2000) and Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer's Curse (2015).

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Spirited Away (2001)

Not only is Spirited Away considered one of the finest animated films ever made, its another movie in the dragons-can-be-your-friend genre. Hayao Miyazaki's tale of a spoiled young girl named Chihiro who ends up entering a spirit world to save her parents contains a classic kind of serpent-like Asian dragon. Haku is a young boy whose true form is that of a long white dragon. Haku devotes himself to Chihiro and ultimately helps to defeat her enemies in the spirit world.

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The Neverending Story (1984)

Michael Ende's novel The Neverending Story features both a good and a bad dragon. In the film, Falkor is a serpent-like white dragon known as a luck dragon that helps the young protagonist of the story. There are two sequels that were made in the 1990s as well as TV show spin-offs, and a remake is also in the works. Ul De Rico, who did little besides this film, is credited with the unique creature design for Falkor.

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How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Dragons have an undeniable appeal and what child wouldn't want one of their own? Here's a film that starts with the dragons as the villains and ends with the beasts being the friendly protectors and co-inhabitants of a Viking village. This extremely popular animated film was followed by a 2014 sequel and a 2019 sequel.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

There's a motto at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: "Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus." That's Latin for, "Never tickle a sleeping dragon." Good advice, apparently. Hogwarts' gamekeeper Hagrid is known for his love for the fire-breathing beasts and at one point he owned a Norwegian Ridgeback called Norbert. But in Goblet of Fire, dragons play a key role in the young wizards' training. Watch out for the Hungarian Horntail Dragon.

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Mulan (1998)

Dragon silliness can be found in this Disney film in which Eddie Murphy voices the diminutive but strutting dragon Mushu. Another Asian style dragon, but this one is played strictly for laughs. In the direct-to-video sequel and other media, Mushu was voiced by comedian Mark Moseley.

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Pete's Dragon (1977)

While we're on Disney, here's another silly dragon tale -- though this one mixes live action and an animated dragon. The tale involves an orphan boy and his magical dragon. Elliott is the dragon, and he's voiced by comedian Charlie Callas with animation by Don Bluth. A new version was released in 2016, which rendered Elliott in CGI.

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Dragonslayer (1981)

Now we come to some of the dragons-are-dangerous films. In this film, a king makes a pact with a dragon: the king provides the beast with some tasty young virgins and the dragon leaves the kingdom alone. But when the king's daughter is the next sacrifice, an old wizard and his young apprentice take on the task of slaying the dragon. The dragon design is again from the amazing Phil Tippett. Working here for Industrial Light and Magic, Tippett developed an animation technique known as "go motion" that was a variation on stop-motion animation. His work helped garner the film an Academy Award nomination for Visual Effects. Although fairly mature and dark in tone, this film was co-produced by Disney.

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Reign of Fire (2002)

A futuristic dragon tale in which a hibernating beast is awakened in London and hatches a bunch of little dragonlings. Eventually, the dragons rise to scorch the earth. Some years after, Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey lead a band of survivors in a battle against the fire-breathing beasts. Unintentionally silly but with some good-looking evil dragons.

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Dragon Wars (2007)

Although this South Korean-made film is essentially dragon excrement in terms of story and filmmaking, it did boast some cool-looking dragons demolishing a city. Plus, the dragons fittingly get top billing.

Edited by Christopher McKittrick