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102 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A monster movie where the monster is well worth the big wait
Ultimately, "Dragonslayer" succeeds where the vast majority of monster movies fail, which is the point at which you get to see the creature and it is a big disappointment. Very few movies had really great monsters when I was growing up and you get to the point where you just expect them to be bad. Even when the make up is pretty good, say Boris Karloff in the original...
Published on January 5, 2005 by Lawrance M. Bernabo

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning for parents: should be rated PG-13 or R
This movie is rated PG, but parents should be aware that it contains several scenes showing bloody violence and some brief nudity. In today's market, it would need to be edited down to even rate as PG-13.

Note added: I just read that this movie has a television rating of TV-14, which seems much more appropriate.
Published 14 months ago by Eric Kramer


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102 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A monster movie where the monster is well worth the big wait, January 5, 2005
By 
This review is from: Dragonslayer (DVD)
Ultimately, "Dragonslayer" succeeds where the vast majority of monster movies fail, which is the point at which you get to see the creature and it is a big disappointment. Very few movies had really great monsters when I was growing up and you get to the point where you just expect them to be bad. Even when the make up is pretty good, say Boris Karloff in the original version of "The Mummy" or Oliver Reed in "The Curse of the Werewolf," you get shorted on how often the monster actually gets to be on screen. "Dragonslayer" ups the ante because there is a big build up to the point when you finally get to see the dragon. But for my money it is well worth the wait because the folks at Industrial Light & Magic delivery even though we are talking 1981 special effects.

The story in "Dragonslayer" combines a couple of recognizable plot lines from the fantasy genre. First there is the hapless young apprentice, Galen (Peter MacNicol), trying to learn his craft from a great wizard, Ulrich (Ralph Richardson). I am certainly reminded of Mickey Mouse from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" in "Fantasia," except that Galen is a lot more earnest. Second, there is the fact that Casiodorus Rex (Peter Eyre), the ruler of the land, has been sacrificing virgins to keep the local dragon from leveling the countryside. Young Valerian (Caitlin Clarke) arrives to beseech Ulrich, the last wizard around, to kill the dragon, which is probably the last of its kind as well.

The only problem is that Ulrich has died, which means that young Galen has to become a dragonslayer. Galen wants to do the great deed for the right reasons, but there is also the Princess Elspeth (Chloe Salaman) to consider, along with all the other young virgins forced to participate in the grim lottery. Casiodorus is not thrilled by the prospect of the fate of his kingdom resting on the shoulders of Galen, so he tries to thwart the young man's plans. However, there is somebody who thinks that the rules of the game in Urland have to be changed.

Beyond the Oscar nominated special effects (and musical score by Alex North) what makes "Dragonslayer" work is that it takes place in a grungy medieval world where everybody is dirty and outright despair seems like an appropriate response to each sunrise. In such a world sacrificing a virgin once a year seems rather reasonable, and an act of heroism seems improbable, especially when your hopes rest on the baby-faced Galen. The atmosphere and the special effects fit together just perfectly, and Ralph Richardson's performance as the sorcerer gives the film its memorable performance.

The casting of MacNichol is seen as problematic by some, especially those familiar with his stellar comedy work on "Chicago Hope" and "Ally McBeal," but I think he works well in this particular context. The idea here is that the hero is not somebody who wants to be a great fighter with a sword but a sorcerer using potions and magicks. MacNichol looks like somebody who would be more comfortable with a staff than a sword, so that when he actually has to pick up a spear and shield to fight the dragon he looks really uncomfortable. Then he sees the dragon and he looks scared. We see the dragon, so we completely understand.

Although a lot of the elements are familiar to everyone weaned on Tolkien and excited by the original "Star Wars" films, there are some attempts to be different. I especially liked the fate of the Princess and the ending has a sense of fatalism we rarely get in a fantasy film, with or without a monster. Unfortunately, the DVD version of "Dragonslayer" has absolutely nothing in terms of bonus features (not even the trailer), but at least the film is presented in anamorphic widescreen so you can enjoy all of the Scottish landscape. More importantly, there is the CGI dragon that mandates this one getting five stars because that dragon is that good. When a movie delivers the goods with the monster the way "Dragonslayer" does, attention must be paid.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a Masterpiece, October 20, 2003
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This review is from: Dragonslayer (DVD)
I grew up on the works of writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne and the Master of Animation, Ray Harryhausen, and so Dragonslayer was destined to become a favorite of mine because of the superb animation effects. When I saw Dragonslayer at the theater I knew only one thing would ever top it, but it was still a book, until now. My VHS copy is mint because I didn't want to lose this classic as I waited for the seemingly eternal release to DVD. The whole movie from start to finish never loses its appeal for me. The storyline, acting and special effects are all at there best. The locations are a perfect blend of light and dark to set the atmosphere of the tale. The characters are very believable and true to their purpose. Todays CGI world works fine for Final Fantasy or Shrek maybe but, CGI would have destroyed the "feel" of the special effects in this movie. The anticipation for this films DVD release was second only to Tolkien's world recently coming to life.
DRAGONSLAYER is the only dragon depiction that has ever been done well and it defines its own period as much as Star Trek and Star Wars defines the galaxies. I will proudly put this one next to the master storytellers in my collection.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At long last ..., January 8, 2004
By 
OSI Osgood (Mtn. Home,, Idaho United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dragonslayer (DVD)
I am still amazed that this film still looks and sounds as good as it does. It is a solid entertainment and most of the dragon effects can still stand alongside any seen in "Lord of the Rings", as they were done by ILM. One wishes that there was at least the movie trailer on this DVD, as it has no extra's to it. Perhaps they will put out a deluxe edition some time in the future. Those who write off early eighties fantasy films, (and there are a lot to write off!), as cheesy, really should take a serious look at this. The only time one wishes the special effects were better is in the Dragon's offspring, where they dont have the believability that the main dragon has.
This was one of the last roles for Sir Ralph Richardson, and he makes the absolute best of it. His scorcerer can stand alonside Merlin or any other.
The period detail is another plus. being made after "Excalibur", (as well as some fine lesser known films of the 70's), the costumes and other effects have a wonderful believeability to them.
So, if your looking for a nice distraction in the fantasy film department, you really can't go wrong with this film!
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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dignified precursor to Dragonheart..., September 22, 2004
By 
Patrick Selitrenny (Switzerland a.k.a. Helvetia Felix) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dragonslayer (DVD)
Considering that one of the roles has been given to none other than Sir Ralph Richardson, should speak volumes about this tiny fantasy movie.

Despite the product of the early eighties, in which movies like "Conan the Barbarian" and other similar products very highly popular, this film has the merit to have a dignified treatment, with an original story and a solid cast of newcomers.

I will not spoil you the surprise of the story, but suffice it to say, that no, the Dragon does NOT speak, nor does he (or is it a she?) consider the meaning of life. He rather spits fire and kills people with ease, and therefore must be destroyed.

This is what this movie is all about. But more than that, it is also about the vanity, greed, prejudice and superstition that rules mankind and hence gives more importance to an otherwise harmless creature...

it is a multi-faceted movie. So much so, that nothing is truly what it seems to be and everything is revealed toward the grand finale, which inevitably comes.

The transfer by Paramount has been undertaken with accuracy and grace. Excellent image resolution, fantastic widescreen rendition of the landscapes, and a wonderful surround soundtrack make it the definitive version to own.

If you like Myths, Dragons and Dungeons, this movie is exceptionally for you.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About time..., August 9, 2003
This review is from: Dragonslayer (DVD)
I am in my late twenties, and I remember when this movie came out when I was a young child...I was completely enthralled with it. To this day it is the most realistic dragon I have ever seen in a fantasy film...most newer movies, in my honest opinion use digital special effects TOO much...you can get fast action sequences that way-but you lose the "real" feeling of the dragon. I personally feel that digital characters and sequences are best used with a very light hand for the best effect. In the close up shots of the dragon in Dragonslayer, you see every slimy scale, the facial expressions...and it looks real. This was not a digital image...this was old fashioned puppeteering and sculpting of a creature that looks as if it is really living and breathing.
The story is a good one...with beautiful costuming, breathtaking backgrounds, and a nice soundtrack. There are some very memorable lines, some good action, and the underlying story of magic vs. Christianity. There is also cameo by Ian McDiarmid as well-most often known as the Emperor/Senator Palpatine from the Star Wars movies-where he plays a Christian Holy Man who faces the dragon.
This was a favorite movie of mine as a child, and I actually married a man who ended up being just as enthralled with it as I was...we have our vhs copy viewed to the point of it almost falling apart-I am thrilled that it is finally being released on dvd.
If you are a sci-fi and fantasy movie lover...please add this one to your collection!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best fantasy films of all time!, August 7, 2000
By 
EquesNiger (Koeln, Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dragonslayer [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I simply loved this movie when it came out about 20 years ago, and was happy to find it available again. It's a phenomenal story about a young apprentice who misinterprets his Master's final instructions, and whose ensuing arrogance thrusts him into a series of confrontations which he is ill equipped to handle (not the least of which is with the dreaded dragon in the title). However, the young but unlikely hero accepts the responsibility of the repercussions of his actions, and sets out to set things right again, despite being overwhelmed by the tasks. Peter MacNicol is fantastic as the young apprentice Galen, and presents an entirely different character to those played in Ghostbusters (where he became typcast as an effette scholar) and Ally McBeal (where he is being typcast as an effette sexually repressed lawyer). Sir Ralph Richardson is the perfect choice for the aging master sorcerer, Ulrich, and makes you believe in magic in a world where magic is dying out along with the dragons. The scenery and costumes are first rate, with incredible detail to capture the genuine feel of life in the Dark Ages (they even paid attention to the STITCHING on the clothes! ). Finally, this is one of the last films to utilise Ray Harryhausen's special effects, in the days before computer graphics...and his work with the dragon when it finally comes forth for battle is simply astounding and hair raising.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the few great fantasy flicks from the 80s., June 28, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Dragonslayer [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Regarding my summary above, sad but true. There really isn't another fantasy movie that's worth comparing to Dragonslayer. Not even Dragonheart whose dragon was completely rendered with computer graphics.
The acting and dialogue were excellent. John Hallam's character (Tyrian) seemed to be enjoying himself as the rightious but devious assassin who proceeds to kill anyone who interferes with his kingdom's sacrifices. Then we have the dragon. An old and spiteful dragon who shows no remorse or pity. The dragon is fantastic to look during it's first fight with young Galen. Did I mention the scenery? I could have sworn this movie was actually filmed in sixth century Britain. It was beautiful! Green pastures, giant trees erupting from the ground, huge mountains that ascend into the clouds. This movie is a real treat. I highly recommend it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RELEASE THIS MOVIE ON BLU-RAY PLEASE!!, April 22, 2010
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This review is from: Dragonslayer (DVD)
Hey folks don't you think it's long overdue that this movie be put on blu-ray??? I'd buy it, hoping the transfer looked good :)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dragonslayer: Breathing Reel Fire and Magic, May 13, 2000
This review is from: Dragonslayer [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"Drangonslayer" is easily in the top five sword and sorcery movies ever made, if not the best next to "Excalibur," a film of similar poetic magic and action. The cinematography is filled with dark, mysterious landscapes of rising steam,fogs, mists, fire, and strange sounds, and it does what most great films do: transports one to a different world. Ralph Richardson, as the wizard, is wonderful, and it was unfortunately one of his last performances, which adds extra power to his quirky but great performance. The rest of the actors, save Peter MacNicol, are English, and for a bit, MacNicol sems a wee bit awkward, but as the movie progresses,his performance gains strength, as the plot calls for him to be strong.The pace is somewhat slow but all the better the savor the magic of the atmosphere; there is a scene in the quiet forest, when you can here the beat of drangonfly wings. The dragon is only partially glimsed at first and we want to see more and this is a superb way to build up suspense, for when we do see the dragon, diving with outstretched wings, burning a village, it is astonishing. Phil Tippet, master animator, did most the animation of the dragon and it is easy to see why he was chosen by Steven Spielberg to help out on "Jurassic Park." Take a close look at the T-Rex and he looks amazingly like the dragon in "Dragonslayer." This is the Dark Ages and many of the key scenes are properly shot in darkness and through mists. With the final battle with the dragon, as thrilling as you will ever see, we really appreciate the power and magesty of this dragon and in another wonderful scene, as Richardson is shown a dragon scale, he has pity on this dragon, an old and ancient foe, sad to see the last of its kind. There is also an appropriately soaring and magical mucic score by Alex North, one of his last, and one of his best. The movie is somewhat violent and has very modest nudity and might not set well with some younger viewers, but when I was younger I loved magical movies like "Drangonslayer," full of fear, magic, wonderful sights and sounds, and the belief that dragons are real, fearful presences yes, but dwelling in the hot mists of ancient caves."Dragonslayer" is a magical masterpiece that will last.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The very best in swords and sorcery film., January 5, 2000
By 
Aaron Webb (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dragonslayer [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The acting is great, the special effects are wonderful and the cinematography is superb. It has a dragon, evil villans, a brash young hero, and a damsel in distress. It has magic, castles and great scenery. Does this sound rather typical? Don't be so quick to judge. Dragonslayer has the one thing that so many swords and sorcery flicks lack: plot.
Dragonslayer starts as a typical fantasy but there are at least five points in the story where they take the fairy tale formula and turn it on its head. Add the most convincing dragon ever (sorry dragonheart, it was good but not that good: methods don't matter as long as you have talent) and you get the best swords and sorcery flick of all time. Now with all this can someone tell me why it is not yet available on DVD?
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Dragonslayer
Dragonslayer by Matthew Robbins (DVD - 2003)
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