Dragons have never really been done properly on screen. Dragonheart was fun, but forgettable. Dungeons & Dragons was a disaster. They’ve just never really gotten a fair shake. Well, they’re about to get another chance at being done right. The Hollywood Reporter says that the Canadian production company Copperheart Entertainment is bringing Anne McCaffery’s sci-fi/fantasy series “The Dragonriders of Pern” to the screen.

The series first kicked off in 1968 with the novel “Dragonflight” and has since spanned dozens of books and time periods. This isn’t some cheap Lord of the Rings knockoff, but a rich and unique world based more in science than fantasy. The books tell the story of a distant planet called “Pern” colonized by humans so long ago that they’ve forgotten their Earth-based history. In order to survive, their forefathers developed genetically engineered dragons to help cope with their paradise planet’s one flaw: a deadly rain of an acidic substance called “Thread”, which burns and disintegrates anything it touches. Lucky for the people of Pern, Thread can be destroyed in mid-air by fire, making those dragons pretty handy.

There’s no word on which book in McCaffrey’s series is being developed, by far the best of the lot is Dragonsdawn, a prequel which tells the story of the original colonists’ first settlement and their struggle to survive against the planet’s unexpected rain of life-ending “Thread”. But it’s more likely they’ll start with one of her other books like “Dragonflight”, which happens hundreds of years after that first landing, long after the colonists’ descendents have forgotten their origins and slipped into an age of feudal kingdoms and technological darkness.

As you can tell, I’m something of a fan. “Dragonsdawn” sits happily on my shelf alongside the works of Herbert, Heinlein, and Tolkien, Some of the other “Dragonriders” books aren’t quite up to the quality of McCaffrey’s prequel saga, but the basic concept is a good one: humans riding and bonding telepathically with dragons to form a sort of necessary symbiosis. The thought of seeing squadrons of human ridden dragons diving through the sky in pursuit of a tangled mass of death gives me chills. If done right, this could be one hell of a film experience. Or done wrong it could be Reign of Fire. I’m hoping it’s the former, but Copperheart isn’t exactly a major production company and this is a film that needs a massive budget.

To date, the only thing Copperheart has done of note is a 2005 Oscar winning animated short called Ryan. Does that mean “Dragonriders” will be animated? Let’s hope not. It’s actually already been done once as a cartoon. If it’s going to be done right, this needs to be a big, live-action, massive Hollywood blockbuster on the order of Lord of the Rings. If they can’t manage that, the property is better off left alone until someone comes along who can.

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