Sunday, 19 June 2011

Back to the 80s - Part 1: Dragonslayer

Well, if you're a child of the 80s like me, then chances are that occasionally you get nostlagic for that time when you were growing up and you like to listen to 80s music, or maybe watch 80s TV shows or movies.

Seeing as I seem to get like that more often these days - I've decided to post up whenever I take a trip back in time to then!

Yesterday, I watched my DVD of Dragonslayer. If you don't know, Dragonslayer is a fantasy movie made in 1981. The title pretty much sums up what the movie is all about - with a young wizard's apprentice having to slay a dragon that has been terrorising a village.

The movie flopped upon it's release - it cost $18 million to make but failed to make that back in box office. This, unfortunately, was the fate of many fantasy movies in the 80s. Star Wars had been such a massive hit that studios were willing to take a gamble on these things and most of them just didn't perform.

It's on VHS, laserdisc, DVD, etc. that a lot of these movies have gained cult followings and it has been realised that actually they were pretty good (or at the very least entertaining!). Dragonslayer is one such movie.

I first saw it on TV when I was a kid and I remember particulalry enjoying the scenes with the dragon (Vermithrax) in it. I then bought it on DVD a few years ago and remembered enjoyign it then. So I came to watch it again last night - having forgotten most of the story.

It certainly has an 80s fantasy movie feel to it (hard to explain but you'll probably know what I mean if you've seen a few of these things) and it tries to shun a lot of the cliches - there's no knights trying to slay the dragon or rescue the maiden, etc. in fact, when the hero tries to rescue the princess (who isn;t the romantic interest, by the way) she ends up dead. D'oh!

This doesn't mean that the movie isn't cliched in other ways though. The hero ends up with a special weapon that can slay the dragon (and a fire-proof shield) and the wizard played by Ralph Richardson deliberately allows himself to killed, only to return towards the end of the movie... so the Star Wars influence isn't exactly hidden.

Another criticism is things that simply aren't explained. Why does the blacksmith have a lance stashed in a waterfall, for example? There are a few moments like this which make me wonder if scenes were cut from the movie. Whilst I can't really find any info on this, a quick read of the Wikipedia entry for the movie reveals that the novelisation of the movie does try and explain a few points not really covered in the movie. Whether this was the author taking it upon theirself to try and plug the holes or if it was in the original script and then removed for some reason, isn't explained.

That aside, the movie is quite fun and there are some nice touches - the politics played by the King and his servants is a nice touch - particularly at the end of the movie. Of course, the real star of the movie is the dragon. Aside from the inevitable matte lines in places, the dragon looks great. The scenes in the dragon's lair when the dragon chases the hero look particularly good and the Go-Motion technique used for animating it certainly works very well indeed, giving the dragon a very smooth and realistic movement.

If you're looking for something with a deep and meaningful plot then this is not the movie for you but this is an entertaining movie and worth looking at if you've enjoyed other 80s fantasy stuff like Dark Crystal, etc.

There's no danger of it being my favourite movie but I enjoyed it nevertheless! :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment