Plot: As man turns more to science and logic, the power of magic has started to wane, much to the dismay of the wizard Carolinus. While men of science tend to view magic as old fashioned and obsolete, Carolinus envisions a world in which science and magic coexist, not compete. But mankind seems driven to eliminate magic and as such, the wizard calls upon his fellow magic users to divine a way to preserve magic, by creating a special and invisible realm. This magical refuge would be hidden and protected, a way to allow magic to remain alive, even as science becomes the new law. This is agreed upon by the wizards, except for one named Ommadon, who refuses to cooperate and promises to use mankind’s reliance on science against them. Now Carolinus must figure out how to stop Ommadon and the solution seems to be to find a new hero, one that has a mind for both science and magic. But can even a wizard with Carolinus’ power manage to not only find such a hero, but help guide him through this quest?
Entertainment Value: This animated fantasy tale from Rankin & Bass offers up wizards, dragons, and all the usual genre elements, with a twist that throws a modern man of logic and reason into this magical world. I appreciated the way science was applied to explain some of the dragon traits, as it makes the premise a little fresher and allows for some new turns to be taken. That being said, Peter isn’t a dynamic hero and the epic finale veers into an odd place. The science vs. magic battle is the core of the movie, but the execution in the final showdown is a little strange, but still fun to watch. The story is fine, if hokey at times and does what it needs to do, which is build a world of magic that is on the brink of extinction. Even if the premise is a little thin at times, it adds some new wrinkles into the fantasy genre tropes and the 80s vibe is strong, which also enhances things, at least in my opinion. I think The Flight of Dragons is on the weird side, but to me, that’s a positive trait.
The cast has a lot of familiar names and the performances are mostly fine, but not all that memorable. James Earl Jones provides a boisterous villain that is fun, but John Ritter channels too much meek nerd into his role. Peter is a nerd, but the writing doesn’t suggest that is he is mild as Ritter channels here. Harry Morgan, Victor Buono, Larry Storch, James Gregory, Don Messick, Alexandra Stoddart, and others also have prominent roles in this one. The voice work is never bad, but it plays more like a Saturday morning cartoon than an epic fantasy feature. But if you’re a fan of the old 80s cartoon vibe, it might make the movie better, who knows. The visuals also resemble the cartoon comparison, as the animation looks like what you’d find in afternoon or morning cartoons. The movie still offers up some cool visuals and solid designs, but it feels a little low rent or knockoff at times. But again, nostalgia can be a powerful drug, so that might again just make it all the better. The Flight of Dragons is a little rough, but I had fun with it and I appreciated the attempts to mix up the fantasy conventions, even if it did take some odd directions.