Dragonslayer (1981) Review

Runtime: 109 minutes
Director: Matthew Robbins
Starring: Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, Sir Ralph Richardson
MPAA Rating: PG
Final Score: 8.5/10

Back in the days when everyone believed in magic, a horrifying fire-breathing dragon terrorized the sixth-century British countryside. The only hope for the beleaguered citizens is an aging sorcerer. But when he is killed before he can save the people, the task falls on his young apprentice, Galen.

Galen’s mission is complicated by resistance from the king – and by falling in love – but his biggest challenge comes when he is suddenly face to face with the dreaded monster. Is his magic enough to save him?



The plot of Dragonslayer is simple: travel to the dragon’s lair and kill it. We’ve seen it done and we’ll see it again. But that doesn’t take away from the movie at all. It leaves more room to explore other aspects of the world that it has created. We aren’t bogged down with multiple arcs that lead nowhere. It’s an easy to watch film that won’t confuse the viewer. It has its twists and surprises, but they don’t take away from the main story.
Score: 1/1

Dragonslayer has two main characters: Galen and Valerian. We see Galen start out confident with a little arrogance, but slowly realize he might not be the sorcerer he thought he was. A fantasy movie needs a hero to hold it together, and Galen does well in this regard. But with each challenge put before him, we see his confidence flee him. Then there’s Valerian, whose goal to save her village leads her to remember who she truly is. Valerian is more a of a woman than most female heroines today. She embraces who she is, but doesn’t let it inform her decisions. And while both characters are not quite sure they can win, they continue to do what is necessary. The rest of the characters don’t get long to develop, but they all have a reason for any decisions they make. They are just people with their own motivations, and each plays his or her part in leading Galen to the end of the journey.
Score: 1/1

The romance between the two main characters was not as fleshed out as I would have wanted it, but it was much better than many romances in today’s movies. We only had a few scenes with both characters together, but those scenes were enough to make the romance not feel sudden and unbelievable. Their attraction grew throughout the movie. There is no sex in the movie, and except for one scene, no nudity.
Score: .5/1

Except for a few lines, the writing stayed away from being cheesy. There was no one liners to force a scene, and most of the humor felt natural. Scenes that were dramatic felt real and honest, and conversations between people flowed naturally.
Score: 1/1

Don’t go into the moving expecting large fight scenes. This is a movie about a sorcerer. There are two fight scenes with weapons and both do their job. The real action stars the dragon and the sorcerers. The final sequence of the movie embodies the spirit of fantasy. A battle between sorcerer and dragon that you must watch.
Score: 1/1

Scenes in which the music overshadows what’s happening on scene can hurt a movie. For the most part, the music kept the tone of the movie. But for certain scenes, the music felt forced. Used to try and get a reaction out of the viewer, it just felt out of place.
Score: .5/1

Set Design
Beautiful. Scotland and wales are perfect for fantasy movies, and they are used well in Dragonslayer. Most of the scenes are up close and personal and everything on screen felt real and lived in by the characters.
Score: 1/1

Again, wonderful designs that felt like real clothes rather than costumes.
Score: 1/1

Special Effects
The special effects are not perfect, but they were far better than expected for a movie from the 80s. Magic was used throughout the movie and very rarely did the effects distract from the scene. Certain magic felt over-done, but most of it was subtle. The scenes with the dragon are where the effects are really noticed. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it is hard to miss. Taken together the special effects work to give the movie a fantastical feel.
Score: .5/1

Overall the movie has the feeling of adventure that most fantasy fans will enjoy. All the elements work together to give it a sense of cohesion. Fantasy has become any movie with fantastical elements, but Dragonslayer is fantasy in the purest sense of the word.
Score: 1/1

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