Dragonslayer Short Review (1981)
This is one of those movies where they did EVERYTHING right. It may be the best fantasy movie ever made (yeah, I’m aware of those Peter Jackson films and Pan’s Labyrinthe). I loved this as a kid . It’s every bit as good as I remembered. I appreciate the amazing talents that brought this to life more than I did then, too. The filmmakers treat the subject matter (of a dragon terrorizing the land) with all seriousness, yet retained a great sense of humor. Its dark in the way PG movies sometimes used to be, but I LOVED that as a kid.
The lighting and cinematography are both top notch. It doesn’t look like it was filmed 30 years ago. The soundtrack is also high caliber; letting you know there is something dark looming in the initial moments.
The actors are cast well for this. This isn’t a collection of ex-models/stars. The actors look the part. Some may complain about MacNichol, but his part is written well and I think he holds his own. His character is not the cliched meek apprentice. He’s cast against type and that’s a good thing sometimes. It is here.
Ralph Richardson was one of those British actors that made everything he was in better. He brings the wit and wry sense of humor he was known for to the role of the Wizard. I keep coming back to the humor. Its done well and not in the winking at the audience way. I think it was another element that makes this so NOT a paint by the numbers genre flick. There’s imagination being used here on things other than just the fantastical aspects.
Oh. And the FX. Just brilliant stuff! Sure, you can tell theyre using the old Matte FX at times, but its still more seamless than 99% of todays CGI. The dragons are tactile. You can almost feel the scales of the dragon as real and not a slick digital figment. Whoever designed and created the dragons in the film were true craftsmen. And unlike most films made today, director Matt Robbins made the audience wait to see the dragon. There’s quite a bit of buildup. Once they do though, the dragon is very impressive. I still get a thrill seeing the dragon fly like a 747. It’s awesome stuff. I won’t show it here, though. You’ll have to see it for yourself. Easily the best film Robbins ever made. Classic. I highly recommend it.