A while ago, I came across a sequence from the the 1999 direct-to-video movie Bartok the Magnificent. It involved the main villain, Ludmilla, transforming into a dragon during the final musical number. A very cartoony sequence, by the way. If anything, I'm a sucker for cartoon dragons and here's one from a Bluth movie. Heavens!
Yes, yes, the dragon is evil. It happens! The downside to this is she gets relatively little screen time. (Only good dragons can get main character status, but that's okay.) What presence she does have is played up for all its worth since its the climax and conclusion of the movie.
I happen to like the way Bluth designs dragons; Ludmilla here, Singe from Dragon's Lair, and a case could be made for Elliot from Pete's Dragon. All of them are plump and suitably stompy. They do have a bit of the "warty" complexion common in many of his characters, and it fits well here. There's a break from tradition using them as the lines defining the contours of the form rather than the typical banded undersides that nearly every other dragon has. The tail also reminds me of an armadillo rather than that of a serpent. And what's with the candy-like horns? I can't say, but they work nicely!
Another deviation from the norm is the complete lack of wings. Perhaps it is because of the anthropomorphic nature of the design. But, the other notable Bluth dragon, Singe, also does not have any and is much more beast-like. Can't say I argue with this decision either, although I'm a bit biased. Who said all dragons need to fly, anyway? Admittedly, that particular lacking feature is what eventually spells doom for Ludmilla. She was evil! We already went over this! It does however make me yearn to see a feature-length, traditionally animated feature with a dragon as an intelligent main character. Alas, they seem to be relegated to sidekick status in 3D movies. Such is life!
I certainly consider the movie worth the $2 I paid for it, if just to study the animation. I leave you with the final musical number, which, sad as it may be, was better than any song in the recent Princess and the Frog movie.