tek's rating:

The Christmas Dragon (not rated)
Arrowstorm Entertainment; IMDb; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; iTunes

Okay... this is a direct-to-DVD movie that I guess came out in 2014, but I didn't see it until 2019, on Amazon. Before I watched it, I was under the impression that it was a CGI movie, and I assumed it would probably be, to some degree, a knockoff of "How to Train Your Dragon," but with a Christmas theme. Once I did watch it, I discovered it's actually a live-action movie, though there are at least a couple of CGI dragons in it. (So it's really more of a "Lord of the Rings" knockoff with a Christmas theme.) Anyway, very little of the movie is actually Christmasy at all, and in fact very little of it is even dragony. Mostly it's a family-friendly fantasy adventure, even if the ultimate goal is for a group of kids to save Christmas. I also want to mention that for a lot of the time, I wasn't that into the movie, and at one point I even thought I would just stop watching it. But I did end up watching the whole thing, and I did get to like it a little bit more as the story progressed. Though by the end, I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to rate it one smiley, or "meh and three quarters." But in the spirit of Christmas, I decided to be charitable and give it a smiley.

So... it's set somewhere in Europe (presumably England), sometime in the Middle Ages. At the start of the movie, a little girl named Ayden receives a kite as a Christmas present from her parents... or as they tell her, actually from Father Christmas. While she's out flying her new kite, some bad people show up to collect taxes from Ayden's parents, but apparently the last time they did this, they kept some for themselves instead of turning it over to the local lord, so Ayden's father doesn't want to give them anything. After a brief fight, Ayden's parents are arrested and put in a caged wagon, while the bad guys try to catch Ayden as well, to sell into slavery, I guess. But when she stumbles down into a nest with some dragon eggs, the bad guys decide to take those, because they're valuable. Then the mother dragon shows up and kills them and probably all but the two leaders of the bad guys, a woman named Gazared and a man named Bomtall, who get away from the dragon. Alas, the dragon kills Ayden's parents, not knowing they weren't involved in trying to steal the eggs.

The movie then flashes forward six years. Ayden, now in her mid-teens, I'm guessing, lives in an orphanage run by a nun and priest, Sister Lenora and Father Mendel. Other orphans include a girl named Rosalynne and a boy named Garrett, both of whom I guess are around the same age as Ayden. There are also some younger kids, a boy named Fin and a pair of twins, a girl named Hoyt and boy named Rand. Ayden wants to celebrate Christmas, which is coming up in a week, though no one else has celebrated it for years, and the younger kids don't even know what Christmas is. Ayden and Garrett explain it to them (the secular bits, anyway), and they both seem to believe in Father Christmas, though Rosalynne doesn't think they should be giving the younger kids false hope for a holiday that isn't going to happen. Still, Ayden decides to go out and gather stuff from the woods to make a wreath. That's when she meets an ugly elf, who gives her a magic stone (which he calls a compass), that can lead to magic by glowing when pointed in the right direction. He gives her some dire warnings about the magic being nearly gone, and Christmas being in danger of dying forever. Then he turns into a goblin, which is apparently what happens to elves when they run out of magic. Or something. So, he basically loses his mind and tries to catch her, and she runs back to the orphanage.

After she tells her friends about what happened, they decide to go on a journey to find the magic that the compass is supposed to lead to, and somehow bring it to Father Christmas, or whatever. But Rosalynne thinks they're all crazy to put themselves in such danger. Later, as the kids are sneaking out of the orphanage, bounty hunters show up to take Garrett away, which I guess is something they do whenever an orphan reaches a certain age, so that they can be sold to someone who will teach them a trade (or just make them work in the mines, or something). So, Ayden, Fin, and the twins set off on their own, unaware of what has happened to Garrett. Rosalynne soon joins them, but she hids the truth about Garrett from them. Eventually, they are also joined by a man named Airk, who has secrets of his own. Later still, they meet a badass elf woman named Saerwen, who is angry at Airk for a reason I won't spoil, but she does join them in their adventure. I may get some things out of order here, but throughout the movie there are various dangers the kids and their new friends face, including an ogre, and bandits, and goblins, as well as the bounty hunters, who just so happen to be Gazared and Bomtall. And they meet a wounded orphan dragon, whom they help. (I thought it was weird that Ayden wanted to help the dragon, considering her parents had been killed by a dragon, but I guess it's nice that she could see past that.) And of course, the dragon will later help them, in a couple of different ways.

And... I've already said way more than I intended to about the plot, though I have left out some important details. But of course they do ultimately save Christmas, while also defending the dragon from an angry mob. And I liked the way that all worked out. So I guess it wasn't a complete waste of my time.

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