Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The first sign that I had that this would not be a gradual improvement over Ladyhawke came pretty early on when I saw the Lucasfilm logo. The second sign came during the opening credits when I saw that this was “A Ron Howard film”. Call me a film snob all you want, but that is not a very good pedigree there.

To be sure, the two do bring a minimum level of competence to the film that definitely makes it watchable, but it’s without question the weakest so far of the films I’ve yet covered for Fantasy Film Week. It rehashes the plot of Beastmaster by including a prophecy that a newborn child would cause the doom of an evil ruler, it has the “delight” of a screaming infant, because as we all know there’s nothing more pleasant to listen to, and with Lucas co-writing the story we get a climax that involves a battle plan by the heroes that’s actually even worse than relying on an army of teddy bears to take out the evil empire.

That said, though, there are a few bright spots. For all his faults as a filmmaker, I do still find myself inordinately pleased with Lucas’s insistence on keeping wipes alive as a scene transition; even in his 60s or however the hell old he is, he’s still stubbornly continuing with them, and God bless ‘im for it. The fight scenes are also, as usual for the genre, pretty impressive, even though it’s pretty impossible to feel any real concern that any of the principle players might be killed.

Still, though, there’s a good reason why Warwick Davis was in zero sequels to this, and yet was in five sequels to Leprechaun. Despite its higher production and name values, this was really a second rate fantasy film. It’s probably the safest one for young children that I’ve seen so far this week (as evidenced by how I had last seen it in elementary school), but if you’re reading this blog you’re most likely a bit out of its target age bracket. Still, I guess if you have a kid, there are much worse 80s films to watch with them. Like Legend, for instance (no, I’m not reviewing it this week, I just hate it).

Rating: **

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