Dragons are, by far, one of the world's favorite mythological creatures. Dragons appear in tales from cultures around the world, and each culture imbues them with their own unique meanings.
Dragons are often related to wealth and luck, but also danger and deceit. More than that, they're just really cool!
No one can deny the awesomeness factor of seeing a fire-breathing dragon unleash waves of flames, or when a winged serpent takes to the skies and bellows to the world.
In cinema, there are many types of dragons that feature in all kinds of movies. From evil to kind, from tiny to huge, here are my picks for the best movies about dragons worth watching!
15. Eragon (2006)
Directed by Stefen Fangmeier
Starring Ed Speleers, Sienna Guillory, Jeremy Irons
Action, Adventure, Family (1h 44m)
Despite being inspired by Christopher Paolini's book series, Eragon came up short with its adaptation and certainly could've been better. The book is an amazing read, especially at the right age!
That said, Eragon is still a fun watch if you're really into dragon-themed stories. In this one, a young boy finds a mysterious object in the forest, and it kind of looks like an egg.
He brings it home and, yes, it turns out that it is an egg... but not just any egg. It's a dragon's egg! After it hatches, we're treated to a story about a boy, a dragon, and the unbreakable bond they share.
14. Pete's Dragon (2016)
Directed by David Lowery
Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley
Action, Adventure, Comedy (1h 42m)
In Pete's Dragon, Grace is the daughter of a woodcarver and she doesn't believe in dragons—yet, anyway.
One day, she meets Pete, a young orphan who claims to live in the forest with a giant (but friendly) dragon. From that moment on, she wants to learn more... and possibly even meet the dragon, who seems to have disappeared in the meantime.
Pete's Dragon tells a wholesome story that's perfect to watch with kids, one which will re-ignite your own love for fantasy and magic while transporting you to a world of wonders.
The 2016 version of Pete's Dragon is a remake of Disney's 1977 classic, so if you're really in the mood, you could binge them both!
13. Quest for Camelot (1998)
Directed by Frederik Du Chau
Starring Jessalyn Gilsig, Cary Elwes, Andrea Corr
Animation, Adventure, Comedy (1h 26m)
The 90s really gave us all kinds of weirdly charming animated movies. Quest for Camelot is one such underrated fantasy animation that's totally worth watching if you haven't yet.
Kayley is the daughter of a knight named Sir Lionel. She wants to be just like him, and soon she'll have the chance to prove her courage.
Along her journey, she encounters many companions—and one of them is even a two-headed dragon. Each head of the dragon has a different personality, but there's one thing they share in common: they're adorable and hilarious!
12. Mulan (1998)
Directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook
Starring Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, B. D. Wong
Animation, Adventure, Comedy (1h 27m)
We've all heard of Mulan, right? Well, this classic Disney animated movie features one of the best dragon characters in cinema: Mushu, the dragon helper.
Voiced by Eddie Murphy (who puts in one of the best performances of his career), Mushu is so iconic and so integral to the film, I'd even go so far to say that he makes the film what it is.
At first, Mushu has his honor to defend and he wants to help Mulan for selfish reasons. Over time, though, it becomes clear that he has a big heart and he truly cares for her and wants her to succeed.
Funny, kind-hearted, confident, and loyal, Mushu is the dragon friend every girl deserves when they're about to join the army!
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Directed by Mike Newell
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Adventure, Family, Fantasy (2h 37m)
From Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback to the poor dragon at Gringotts Bank, dragons appear more often than not throughout the Harry Potter film saga.
However, a special mention goes out to one particular dragon that I'm sure every Potterhead will remember. Of course, I'm talking about the toughest dragon in the whole series: the Hungarian Horntail.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire makes it on this list because it includes one of the most iconic moments of the whole saga, one that defines a major turning point in the story while showing us Harry Potter's reckless courage.
10. The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Starring Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach
Adventure, Drama, Family (1h 42m)
How could anyone have a list of dragon movies without including The NeverEnding Story? It's one of the classics!
One day, an unhappy young boy stumbles upon a fantasy book. While reading it in the attic, he can't shake the feeling that the story feels familiar... that it's having an odd effect on him.
The story is about a young boy named Atreyu who has a dangerous mission to accomplish. His world is populated by all sorts of magical creatures, and one of them is a friendly pink dragon named Falkor.
As it turns out, Falkor's friendly demeanor makes him one of the best dragons in the history of cinema!
9. Tales From Earthsea (2006)
Directed by Gorō Miyazaki
Starring Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe, Mariska Hargitay
Animation, Adventure, Fantasy (1h 55m)
Studio Ghibli's Tales From Earthsea is a very loose anime film adaptation of the series of fantasy novels by Ursula K. LeGuin.
Notably different from the books themselves, Tales From Earthsea follows a prince named Arren who goes on a quest to set the mythological forces within his world to order, so that "peace" can return to the dragons.
Enchanting and beautiful to watch, this movie doesn't just feature dragons but also many other mythical creatures.
8. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wolfgang Reitherman, Eric Larson, and Les Clark
Starring Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley
Animation, Adventure, Family (1h 15m)
Here's a quick detour into the land of fairy tale movies, in which we feature the 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty.
It's probably not the first film to come to mind when you think about dragons, but it deserves to appear on this list because it plays on the traditional role of dragons in Western mythology—namely, the dangerous threat they pose.
Sleeping Beauty follows the traditional story of a princess who falls under a sleeping spell, but this Disney classic turns into a feat of artistry when the evil Maleficent becomes a fire-breathing dragon.
7. Shrek (2001)
Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson
Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz
Animation, Adventure, Comedy (1h 30m)
Another animated feature to add to the list—and one we hope you've seen by now—is Shrek. Based on a book of the same name, Shrek isn't entirely about dragons, but it does feature one.
An ogre named Shrek is forced to rescue a princess from a fire-breathing creature in order to reclaim his swamp. Neither the princess nor the dragon are what he assumes them to be, and much hilarity ensues.
There are multiple films in this franchise, so if you enjoyed the first one, you'll be happy to dive into the next one. This said the first one became a classic for a reason!
6. Spirited Away (2001)
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette
Animation, Adventure, Family (2h 5m)
Chihiro is ten years old and she's moving to a new house with her parents, but she hates the idea and doesn't want to talk about it. On their way there, they stop at a deserted village with what seems to be an open buffet.
As it turns out, the village is the outskirts of a monster's hotel, where magic reigns and nothing seems what it is. However, she finds one friend in Haku, a dragon who can also appear in human form.
Spirited Away is fantastic for so many reasons, but when it comes to dragons, it shows us how Japanese folklore has a different view of these creatures compared to Western folklore.
In Japanese folklore, dragons bring good luck and are often closer to the realm of spirits than the animal kingdom.
5. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
Starring Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Animation, Action, Adventure (1h 38m)
How to Train Your Dragon is one of the most recent works on dragons in cinema. An animated film based on a book by Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon follows a young Viking named Hiccup who desperately wants to become a dragon slayer.
When Hiccup captures his first dragon—a harmless lizard named Toothless—they end up becoming friends. He then sets out to change his people's minds about dragons and rehabilitate their image.
This film is more than your typical kid's animated film. There's thrilling action and lots of heart, making it one of the best movies by DreamWorks Animation and one of the best dragon movies ever.
4. I Am Dragon (2015)
Directed by Indar Dzhendubaev
Starring Matvey Lykov, Mariya Poezzhaeva, Stanislav Lyubshin
Adventure, Fantasy, Romance (1h 50m)
Loosely based on the novel The Ritual, I Am Dragon follows Princess Miroslava after she's kidnapped by a dragon and carried off to a castle.
There, she meets a young man named Arman, whom she quickly falls in love with—only to discover that Arman is the dragon and he's able to shift into human form.
I Am Dragon is an incredibly gorgeous and sumptuous film that's filled with beautiful imagery and symbolism. And with a title like that, you know it's one of the best movies about dragons. Definitely watch this one if you like fairy tales and/or romance.
3. Dragonheart (1996)
Directed by Rob Cohen
Starring Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery, Dina Meyer
Action, Adventure, Fantasy (1h 43m)
Dragonheart is one of the older fantasy films on this list. When a prince named Einon is wounded during a fight, his mother takes him to a dragon and asks the creature to save his life.
The dragon gives Einon his heart to keep him alive, but this act of generosity turns out to be ill-fated: Einon turns into a dictator that must be taken down by a plucky band of heroes. Not so easy since his dragon heart makes him harder to kill.
Heartbreaking and a true classic, Dragonheart taught us 90s kids about kindness, courage, and friendship. I still can't watch it without crying, and if you can, you are lying.
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage
Adventure, Fantasy (2h 41m)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies are the second and third films in the three-part film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.
All three films are based on a single novel by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit), so you'll want to watch the first film—The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—before you dive into these ones. But these are the ones that primarily feature the iconic dragon Smaug.
By this point in the series, Bilbo Baggins and his accompanying Dwarves have woken up Smaug, who has been resting upon his hoarded pile of gold inside the Lonely Mountain.
Of course, Smaug is understandably upset at having someone entering his home. The dragon is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who puts on a fantastic performance.
1. Reign of Fire (2002)
Directed by Rob Bowman
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupco
Action, Adventure, Fantasy (1h 41m)
Reign of Fire was known as "that" dragon movie for a really long time after it was released in 2002. This post-apocalyptic fantasy movie stars Christian Bale as Quinn and Matthew McConaughey as Denton.
Reign of Fire takes place in a hypothetical near-future where the entire world has been taken over by huge, fire-breathing dragons that escaped from an underground cavern—and now it's up to Quinn and Denton to team up to stop them.
In many ways, Reign of Fire is both the quintessential dragon movie and yet totally different from what you'd likely expect in a movie about dragons. That blend is what makes it a cult classic that only gets better with every rewatch.