Monday, August 18, 2008

The Beastmaster

Due to circumstances that were clearly beyond my control, I was “forced” to take a long weekend and skip out on reviews for Thursday and Friday. To make up for this scandalously lax regimen, I’ve decided to cheer up all of you lucky readers with a theme week: from today until Friday (presumably), you’re going to get to enjoy Fantasy Film Week, starting with The Beastmaster! Hooray!

Which is not to say that this film is all that amazing and worthy of applause, as it’s a pretty average effort, definitely the weakest effort I’ve so far seen from director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep). Big on brawling fight scenes and light on coherency, it comes off a lot like the first Conan movie, to the point where I’d be tempted to call it an outright ripoff had they not come out in the same year. Our hero, the Beastmaster, spends his days running around with no shirt on to better show off his manliness, and communing with animals and seeing through their eyes and whatnot. Of course, the film would be very boring were that all he did, and so soon after cutting ahead from his youth to adulthood his village is destroyed by evil knights in black armor and scary helmets, and so he must now go questing to save people from a villainous pagan priest and the evil knights.

It’s not so much that the movie is bad; indeed, several of the scenes, such as one involving a creepy race of bat people, are very good. It’s just that they don’t seem to add up at all. He just seems to roam from place to place having new mini-adventures everywhere he goes like a road trip movie without anything really connecting. Hell, unless I missed something while I was on the potty, the evil priest and the evil knights weren’t even connected at all, they were completely separate enemies. If you’re a big fantasy fan, this is worth a view. For everyone else, it’s probably more something to see only when there’s nothing else on TV.

Rating: ** ½

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