Tuesday, August 19, 2008


And Fantasy Film Week continues onward with Ladyhawke, a somewhat sharper, more coherently written, and definitely better acted entry in the genre. I hope this trend of gradually increasing quality continues over the course of the week, I must say.

Before I get into the requisite plot summary, I feel I must address the issues with Ladyhawke’s MPAA rating, as it relates to that of Beastmaster. Now, Beastmaster came out in 1982, before the PG-13 rating existed, and so while it had a greater amount of blood in it than Ladyhawke (as well as some nudity), it wasn’t considered extreme enough to warrant an R and got a PG rating. Ladyhawke, unfortunately, had the misfortune to come out a year after the creation of the PG-13 rating, and so was branded with that despite being nudity-free and less violent than Beastmaster had been. The MPAA is a very screwed up organization.

Anyway, this film stars Matthew Broderick as a young thief on the run from the villainous French government, led by a corrupt bishop, who befriends a powerful soldier (the delightful Rutger Hauer) who has coincidentally been cursed by the very same bishop. See, the bishop had been lusting after Michelle Pfeiffer, and when she fell for Hauer instead, the bishop decided that the only reasonable way to settle this dispute was to make it so that every time the sun goes down, Hauer turns into a wolf until dawn, while Pfeiffer turns into a hawk from sunrise to sundown, ensuring that they can never properly consummate their love without a lot of social taboos being broken.

Much like pretty much every fantasy film I’ve yet seen, the plot does tend to be fairly episodic, though this one is a step above by virtue of spending the bulk of its time focusing on the tragic love angle, rather than just being a string of largely unconnected battles. It also helps that Hauer and Pfeiffer are much better actors than one normally gets in such a film (nothing against Marc Singer, mind you, but his acting in Beastmaster tended to consist pretty much entirely of squinting and flexing), as they both help elevate this one above the standard 80s fantasies.

Rating: ***

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