Did you know George R.R. Martin once ranked
ahead of Monty Python and the Holy Grail
, Pan's Labyrinth
, La Belle et la Bete
, and Raiders of the Lost Ark
in a top ten list of fantasy films? His description of the film on the list contains a major spoiler so read at your own risk but I'll quote this bit: It's surprisingly dark, and delivers some nice twists and turns along the way. Vermithrax Perjorative is the best dragon ever put on film (the dragons in
Reign of Fire are a close second) and has the coolest dragon name as well.
I suppose Vermithrax may have been the best dragon created on film to that date though I found the variety of techniques used to create the monster--switching between different models and stop motion animation--and the brief space of time in which the dragon actually appears in the film sabotage attempts to establish the dragon's personality. I would certainly say Maleficent in dragon form in Disney's Sleeping Beauty
was more impressive. But Dragonslayer
is also a Disney film--co-produced with Paramount--surprising perhaps because of the relative darkness of the material Martin mentions. This was before Disney had Touchstone or Miramax so graphic, bloody violence and a scene establishing that Peter MacNicol is rather well hung were a bit jarring to see in a film bearing the Disney name. It is interesting for its moral ambiguity but unfortunately it fails for its lack of solid characterisation.
A problem particularly apparent in MacNicol who plays the Luke Skywalker-ish lead, apprenticed to a dying wizard played by Ralph Richardson. We can take the film as a coming of age story only by default. When MacNicol takes up the mantle of wizard he does so without hesitation and his self-confidence never seems to be challenged. He's sort of a blank.
More interesting perhaps is his costar Caitlin Clarke who plays a peasant daughter of a blacksmith who lives her life disguised as a boy in order to avoid the lottery which demands virgin women be sacrificed to the dragon periodically. When it seems MacNicol's character has vanquished the beast, she comes out as a women in a scene that's kind of sweet.
The film also features some gorgeous location shots form North Wales and Scotland.Twitter Sonnet #696No survey came for the dashing receipt.
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