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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Barbarian in the Playground

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    Apr 2020
    United States

    Default Re: Sword-and-Sorcery Films of the 1980's

    Quote Originally Posted by The Hellbug View Post
    I recently watched this one on a lark and was very pleasantly surprised. The plot's silly, the leads are goofy (I've seen this pair in a number of movies and they couldn't act their way out of a paper bag), and the thief lady sidekick appears to have been only given 'do valley girl' as direction, but it's done earnestly, and I found that very charming. In addition, the costumes and sets are good, and I thought it kept the pace well. My biggest complaint was that our genre-staple evil sexy sorceress didn't get enough screen time because she was real fun when she was around. My final verdict was that the movie was silly but, if that's something you enjoy/can handle, it was very fun. It got good marks from everyone in the room when we had it on.
    It's cheesy. And I mean the generic cheese that is a less expensive knock off of "Kraft Singles". But as long as you don't mind that, it's not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

    The one thing I will say for it is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. If it tried to be as serious as "Conan the Barbarian", it would be horrible.
    Last edited by Trafalgar; 2024-02-13 at 11:27 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #62
    Orc in the Playground
    oudeis's Avatar

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    May 2010

    Default Re: Sword-and-Sorcery Films of the 1980's

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    Just watched Dragonslayer for the first time in many years, and I absolutely loved it. Great little movie with a well-crafted atmosphere, and a bit more depth than I realized when I first saw it as a kid.

    But I don't know that I'd call it a sword-and-sorcery movie. It came out the year before the first Conan, so it takes no inspiration from that genre; instead it has its own distinctive tone and style. There are a few swords and an abundance of sorcery, but the hero is about as far from the rippling-muscled swordsman as possible, and there are plenty of other idiosyncrasies as well.

    Spoiler: Departures of Dragonslayer
    The story is fairly basic, but thereís more than one hero involved, and the dragon is finally defeated by the combined efforts of four different people, working together but not always as a team. Galen is the nominal hero, but Valerian saves his life twice over and gives him a vital key to survivalóand itís through her determination that Galenís story is set into motion at all. This is the exact opposite of the slightly later Krull, in which the female lead is primarily decorative and plays no more than a nominal role in her own rescue.

    Dragonslayer has a bit of commentary about elites and politicians, which was probably unusual for a fantasy movie of the timeóin particular its portrayal of the king not as a wise and noble ruler, but as a cunning operator and propagandist. Unlike other movies from this time (e.g. Krull) thereís a firm sense of the unglamorous realities of early-medieval lifeóand again unlike Krull, magic is not so easily mastered.

    Also unusual is that the princess nobly sacrifices herself and isnít conveniently rescued just in time. The movie doesnít shy away from the consequences, and offhand I canít think of another fantasy movie where the princess doesnít make it out in one way or another. Meanwhile the primary warrior-antagonist, the captain of the guard, is a rough arrogant jerk, but heís not evil; heís motivated by a strong sense of duty and patriotism, and although he has to be defeated itís clear the movie takes no pleasure in it.

    The dragon itself looks a bit cheesy to the modern eye, but the stop-motion effects were excellent for the time and some of the flight scenes hold up very well. The movie is highly effective at building tension with fleeting glimpses early on, and in the theater the full reveal must have been impressive.

    The acting of the two young leads isnít the best, but theyíre surrounded by older and better actors who carry the movie, in particular Galenís master and the king. Supporting actors are far better than in comparable movies (again thinking of Krull), and in this case including a much younger Ian McDiarmid.

    The one serious complaint I have with the movie is the music, which is utterly awful. I donít know what they were going for, but itís a strangely screechy cacophony, without a recognizable theme and often poorly matched with individual scenes. It ranges from grating to forgettable, and I'm not sure how such a solid movie in most other respects was saddled with such an emotionless shambles of a score. If the existing movie could be remixed with a new score, ideally by Howard Shore, it would be close to perfection.

    I saw this when it first came out, but I hadnít remembered just how good it was, in its own earnest way. Stands up very well to a viewing today, and highly recommended.

    Good comments, but I have to take issue with a few points:

    While the princess in Krull didn't grab a sword and actively attack The Beast (as I'm sure would happen if there is ever a remake) she was far from passive. She was determined, self-possesed, and never stopped trying to escape. She was also was more than a match for The Beast in their verbal sparring matches.

    As for Dragonslayer, I disagree with your take on the special effects. Aside from a model shot in the cave, and perhaps a moment from a composite shot just prior, I think they still hold up (minor nitpick: the practical effects were actually go-motion). And the first full reveal was indeed impressive: in what was perhaps the second-greatest year for summer movies in history, it stood out as one of the more memorable moments.

    Also, I don't think you could be more wrong about the score. It was harsh, eerie, almost atonal at times, but it helped set the tone for what was actually a fairly dark story, as you pointed out. The blaring horn motif for the dragon in particular was especially effective at conveying the menace of the monster, and the qiueter scenes were handled with the right mix of humor, sentiment, and dread as required. The lone failure in the soundtrack was the ending, which actually managed to pierce the mood of ecstatic fantasy glee I felt at the time. I was and am willing to forgive it, considering the rest of the music, but it really wasn't good.

    As for Howard Shore? His work is much too symphonic/melodic for a film like this. I can't name a compser I would prefer of the top of my head, but I think he would be a bad match.
    Last edited by oudeis; 2024-02-13 at 04:05 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Bugbear in the Playground

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    Sep 2016
    United States

    Default Re: Sword-and-Sorcery Films of the 1980's

    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    Just finished watching The Sword and the Sorcerer. I had to stop partway through due to cheese overload. The fight scenes were terribly bad, but the acting was average for the 80's.
    The story had a lot of potential, it just needed at least an hour more to tell the story, much better fight choreography, and better special effects.
    That movie does win a prize for quite possibly the stupidest fantasy weapon every devised. It must be seen to be believed. The rest of it is unfortunately pretty tedious.
    The desire to appear clever often impedes actually being so.

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  4. - Top - End - #64
    Ogre in the Playground
    Mordar's Avatar

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    Mar 2008

    Default Re: Sword-and-Sorcery Films of the 1980's

    Quote Originally Posted by Catullus64 View Post
    That movie does win a prize for quite possibly the stupidest fantasy weapon every devised. It must be seen to be believed. The rest of it is unfortunately pretty tedious.
    If by stupidest you mean the utterly idiotic thing that only a 12-year-old would say was the COOLEST SWORD EVER!

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  5. - Top - End - #65
    Ogre in the Playground

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    Aug 2012

    Default Re: Sword-and-Sorcery Films of the 1980's

    One of my biggest disappointments during that one was how infrequently that idiotic weapon wasn't being used.
    Coach and Owner of Hellbug's Heroes, Sneak Kings, Sultans of Slaughter, and Commercial Cast-Offs. Season II and III runner-up. Season IV league champion. Season VII division champion.

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