I’ve got a thing for dragons.
No, I mean it. I’ve really got a thing for dragons, in that I love writing about them, reading about them, and watching them in TV shows and films whenever I get the chance. There’s something awe-inspiring about seeing a fire breathing lizard the size of your house take down an army, and while my personal love of dragons was never strong enough to get over my dislike of Game of Thrones, there are a lot of other choices out there. Many of them are short enough that you can watch a few films in an afternoon.
Here are eight movies about dragons that you absolutely have to see if you’re a fan.
1. Reign of Fire (2002)
Reign of Fire was known as that dragon movie for a really long time. A post-apocalyptic fantasy starring 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. Denton and Quinn have to team up to stop them.
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies are the second and third films in a three-part trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. They’re based on a novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, so you’ll want to watch the first film in the trilogy before anything else, then maybe read the book.
We’re recommending this set of films because by this point in the trilogy, Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves that are accompanying him have woken up the dragon Smaug. Smaug has been resting upon his pile of gold inside the Lonely Mountain, and he’s understandably upset at having his beauty sleep disturbed. The dragon is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who puts on a fantastic performance.
3. Dragonheart (1996)
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 him. The dragon gives Einon his heart to keep him alive, but this act of generosity turns out to be ill-fated. Einon becomes a dictator, and a plucky band of heroes must take him down—even though his dragon heart makes him harder to kill.
4. I Am Dragon (2015)
Words cannot describe how much I love this Russian fantasy film.
Loosely based on the novel The Ritual, I am Dragon follows Princess Miroslava after she is 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 a human form.
I am Dragon is an incredibly gorgeous, sumptuous film filled with beautiful imagery and symbolism. Watch this one if you like fairy tales or romance.
5. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Speaking of fairy tales: we’re going to add 1959’s Sleeping Beauty to this list. Following the traditional story of a princess who falls under a spell when her thumb is pricked by a needle, this Disney classic turns into a feat of artistry when the evil Maleficent becomes a fire-breathing dragon.
*Currently unavailable for streaming.
6. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
I absolutely love How to Train Your Dragon. An animated film based upon 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, however—a harmless lizard called Toothless—he becomes its friend. He then sets out to change his people’s minds on dragons and rehabilitate their image.
7. Shrek (2001)
Another animated feature to add to the list—and one we hope you’ve all seen by now—is Shrek. Based off a book of the same name, Shrek is not about dragons, but does feature one.
An ogre named Shrek is forced to rescue a princess from a fire-breathing creature in order to reclaim his swamp. Needless to say, neither the princess nor the dragon are what he assumes them to be, and much hilarity ensues. There are multiple films in this franchise, but this is the only one you absolutely have to watch.
8. Tales From Earthsea (2006)
Finally, we’re going to recommend Tales From Earthsea: a very loose anime adaptation of a series of 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 “peace” can return to the dragons.
Looking for more movies? Here’s a list of overlooked fantasy films that are worth watching.