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Nettlebrand (2021).png

What's the Work

Dragon Rider (or Firedrake the Silver Dragon), a film based on the book about a young dragon trying to find a realm for his kind to survive in.

Who are They? What Have They Done?

500 years ago, when a war between humans and dragons caused by humanity's greed broke out, Nettlebrand was created by alchemist Petrosius to turn the tide of the conflict. However, he betrayed and devoured Petrosius before going on to hunt many dragons across the world, as his golden skin was immune to their fire breath. This forced the dragons to scatter into hiding, when Varin the first dragon rider led many of them to a safe realm known as the "Rim of Heaven", locked behind a special key. Nettlebrand killed Varin and took the key so no other could follow. After this, he lost track of the dragons, and retreated into Petrosius' castle to lay dormant for centuries.

In the present, dwarf Gravelbeard reports to the castle that he has sighted a silver dragon, Firedrake. Nettlebrand immediately chases after but arrives just as Firedrake, alongside forest brownie Sorrel and human Ben, fly from the scene. His tiny homunculus slave Twigleg, whom Nettlebrand holds under threat of facing the same fate as his 11 brothers and sisters (read: being killed) is sent to follow the group on a raven. The draconid repays Gravelbeard's help by making him a replacement slave in Twigleg's absence.

Later, Twigleg reports back that Firedrake is planning to find the Rim of Heaven by asking the "Thousand-Eyed Djinn" for its location. Realizing the deceptive Djinn will kill the dragon before he can feast on it, Nettlebrand (with the dwarf in tow) travels to the scene himself in a submersible. As the Djinn tries to destroy Firedrake's crew for answering a trick question wrong, Nettlebrand arrives and attacks the genie to preserve his prey, but the ensuing fight gives his targets another chance to escape. The heroes travel to an Indian temple charted on their map, to meet someone who might know where the Rim is, when Twigleg is found hiding in Ben's backpack. He reveals that he does not willingly spy for Nettlebrand, and offers to throw him off their scent, nearly succeeding when reporting to his master, but Nettlebrand realizes their true location and threatens the artificial human for his lies. The raven steals their map, letting him follow to their next target in a Himalayan mountain range.

As Firedrake, Sorrel and Ben arrive to the mountains, Nettlebrand pursues them through the frozen cavern, only being stopped when he crashes through an ice wall and falls into a chasm. But he soon recovers and follows them to the gateway of the Rim, where he engages in a final battle with Firedrake. Nettlebrand has the upper hand, and just as he is about to devour Ben to taunt the dragon, Firedrake activates his previously ineffective fire breath, bypassing Nettlebrand's immunity and melting him down into liquid gold.

Heinous Standards

The other antagonists, some monsters with brief screen time and the Mighty Djinn, attempt basic kill the heroes acts, but Nettlebrand has a known kill count of at least 13 even excluding the sapient dragons, easily standing out as the worst in the work.

Mitigating Factors

Although he was created to eat dragons, the fact that he turned on his creator by killing him, treats Twigleg with unnecessary cruelty on top of murdering his 11 siblings, and overall shows a very sadistic personality displays that he actively chooses to be evil beyond what his predatory nature requires, proving he has moral agency.

He is involved in some comedic moments, but they are laughably evil and do not denigrate his heinousness, as his own serious and darkening tone is kept throughout. A case similar to Von Talon's comes to mind.

Final Verdict

Yes for how I see it at least.

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