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  • Dragonslayer
    • Dragonslayer
    • Runtime:108 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-22 23:25:15
    • Director: Matthew Robbins
    • Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Dragonslayer


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Grew up watching this movie several times during the early/mid 80s, so
my review is a little skewed/biased. Recently re-watched it and still
enjoyed it for what it was: a fantasy-adventure. The set design and
attention to details like spoken Latin, Costuming, Settings (Town and
Castle) were very meticulous and competent and the dragon is very well
done considering the dates the movie was created. I thought Ralph
Richardson, John Hallam, and Caitlin Clarke had the strongest
performances in the movie while Peter MacNicol, although energetic,
doesn't quite fit the role. The music at times is good, but at other
times out-of-place. Much of the cinematography is beautiful including
backdrops of Scotland. Summarizing, the film seems a bit aloof, and
sets up a standard romance – however the winning aspects of the movie
are it's look and it's recreation of an Old World Society, Rulership,
and melding of black arts (magic), sacrifice, and lottery (apparently
mocking it). The script and dialog often is better than average and
thoughtful. Fairly Recommended, and although some special effects have
shown their age a bit, a good movie.


A strange fact that you see when looking at movies through the years is
that movies featuring dragons for some reason never really perform all
that well. Sure you have your semi hits like "Dragon Heart", but
nothing that really sets the box office ablaze as it were. Take this
one for instance, you can tell they put some good money into the film
because at times the film looks terrific, however the movie did not
really perform all that well at the box office. Granted it was rather
dark at times and while there is a great fight between the hero and the
dragon at a point in the film when he was trying to save that one girl
who rigged the lottery so she would get chosen the ending fight was
nonexistent. The story has a town and castle plagued by a dragon,
people go to search for I think a wizard to help them get rid of said
dragon. Well for some reason or other a man stabs said wizard and the
wizard dies and they are now just left with the apprentice. The town
holds a lottery and whose ever name is drawn is sacrificed to the
dragon. Only females are drawn though. Like I said the dragon looks
rather good and the one scene of the apprentice going to the lair is
good too, but to often the movie bogs down and feels sluggish. Still,
overall it was a somewhat good film that features a dragon so it was
doomed to fail like so many other dragon movies.


Dragonslayer was in my opinion a very good movie. Without being too
camp, it manages to be very entertaining, and along with NeverEnding
Story, Princess Bride and Legend this is one of the better fantasy
films I have seen. The film benefits from some very stylish costumes
and sets, and the breathtaking scenery helps as well. The music score
is highly atmospheric, and filled with beautiful and haunting themes.
The film has a good plot with some nice twists, themes and turns, a
decent script and good characters. I will admit one or two of the
supporting characters are thinly sketched compared to the wizard
Ulrich, and there are parts when the film suffered from pacing
problems. But overall I really enjoyed Dragonslayer. I forgot to
mention the acting. Peter MacNicol is a likable enough lead with his
spontaneous boyish charm, Caitlin Clarke and Chloe Salamon are stunning
as the female leads, and Ralph Richardson without a doubt steals the
movie as Ulrich. Also, how can I forget the dragon? Plain and simple,
best designed dragon in any fantasy film, the movements, the design,
the creepiness everything, flawless. Even better than Draco in
Dragonheart, despite Sean Connery's majestic voicing. All in all, a
couple of minor flaws, but it is most enjoyable, and one of the better
fantasy films out there. 8/10 Bethany Cox


At first glance, Dragonslayer, might seem like a hokey, conventional
fairy tale, especially when you see Walt Disney Pictures, and PG rating
labeled on it, but do not be fooled. Dragonslayer is a smart step ahead
of an average Disney fairy tale. In some ways it does not resemble one
at all. Writer/director Mathew Robbins, takes a classic archetype
(dashing hero, must rescue damsel in distress from savage beast) and
stretches the concept into something a little less basic, and a little
more convincing. He also constructs the film in such a way that it
looks and sounds very real.

While special effects have come quite a ways since Dragonslayer, this
dragon is just as well designed as any monster from a movie today. It
does not look like a big hunk of fabricated rubber, it actually looks
like a dragon with scales and claws and the whole package. To help
generate the illusion, Robbins chooses his angles carefully. We seldom
see the whole creature in frame, we only see parts. Among other things,
this trick makes the beast look larger. Just occasionally we see the
whole body in frame which is generated by less convincing digital
go-motion, but it works.

The world in which the creature dwells is also well designed. Every set
is carefully built to look dirty and murky like the Dark Ages were.
Nothing is ever shiny and clean, like it was in Excalibur.

From what I have described, you'd think that nothing could go wrong
with Dragonslayer, yet something does. The problem comes down to how
the story is concluded. When the movie approaches its final act, it has
the potential for a great climax. What we get is a mediocre one.
Robbins takes the fantasy a bit far and uses magic as an excuse for
Deus ex Machina, a sudden turn of events which not only makes the
remaining story feel weird but it spoils the chance for excitement.
Another diminishing factor is the overuse of blue screen photography
and stop motion. In small does, these effects were okay, but the final
confrontation sequence looks utterly fake.

Dragon movies are rare, which is why it is good to see a film like this
every now and then. Some have been more entertaining than others, but
it feels like Dragonslayer could've been the best. Some patience and
thought went into the screenplay, but a little more was needed. The
film has everything else though.

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