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Reviews & Ratings for
Dragonslayer More at IMDbPro »

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40 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Great fantasy movie.

Author: Shawn Watson from The Penumbra
9 August 2004

Fantasy movies such as this are non-existent these days. Gimme back the days of The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson and the Gremlins. For a family movie this is also very straight-faced too. There is not much humor in it, but that only adds to the overall weird tone.

The story is of a wizard apprentice called Galen (a very young Peter MacNicol) who goes on a quest to slaughter a Dragon terrorizing the people of Urland (Ireland maybe?). There are long moments of quiet and a strange atmosphere brewing around the whole movie. It looks and feels quite unique.

No doubt this is owed a lot to the fabulous widescreen compositions, visual effects that range from not bad to surprisingly good and stunning scenery and locations. Indeed the mood of this film is something I've never come across in a fantasy film. Plus for a film that is rated a simple PG, there was quite a lot of graphic gore, violence and even slight nudity. Surprising, but it adds to the boldness of the production. You would never get a family movie like this these days. I will take Dragonslayer over Harry Potter anytime.

Filmed in Panavision, the 2.35:1 anamorphic picture looks really great in most scenes but in others there is a small problem with the black levels. The soundtrack has been remastered in Dolby 5.1 and it is surely loud and forceful. Unfortunately there are ZERO extras. Which is a shame, because for a film like this, I really want more.

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37 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Now THAT'S what I call a dragon!!!

Author: HaemovoreRex from United Kingdom
30 June 2005

With the name Disney attached to a sword and sorcery/fantasy romp, many genre purists might be filled with immediate consternation as they visualise in horror the possible 'cute' connotations.

Fortuitously, the understandable apprehension that this may well induce actually proves to be entirely unfounded however, as this movie is about as far from Pete's Dragon or any other Disney fare as is humanly imaginable!

What we do have here, is an excellent movie with top notch production values, awesome special effects, a fine cast, and a very dark story.

The dragon itself is without doubt the best ever committed to celluloid (a much better design than the CGI one in Dragonheart) and proves to be hugely menacing and destructive as it incinerates everything in it's path.

The actors to, all put in excellent performances and it's particularly great to see such a fine piece of casting in the form of the late great Sir Ralph Richardson as the wizard Ulrich. In fact for such a role there has surely never been a more appropriate choice of actor other than of course, Peter Jackson casting Sir Ian McKellen to play Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

For fans of sword & sorcery and fantasy movies in general, this really is an absolute must see!

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38 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

one of the best

Author: moondragon85501 from United States
6 July 2004

Dragonslayer came out when "Dungeons & Dragons" was getting to be a big thing where I live, so there was a lot of interest. It was even adapted into a book by Wayland Drew (in a rare instance when a movie preceded a book).

Two things I like mainly. First, of course: Vermithrax. I rather hope that Dragonslayer is never remade, for there's no way the digital animation done these days could do this magnificent creature justice. New isn't always better.

It's also nice to see a film which doesn't stereotype Pagans and magicians as evil. In fact, the film treads the whole good-evil line rather lightly; Ulrich displays a certain respect for Vermithrax, even while planning the dragon's demise.

I find it easy to be swept up in the lovely mystery of Dragonslayer: a mystical film from 1981 (a more mystical age).

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36 out of 44 people found the following review useful:


Author: otto4 from California, USA
27 December 2004

I saw this when it came out, in the theater, in 1981. It was a sort of surprise hit that summer. This is a movie with plot. It's about a young man and woman meeting challenges, death, redemption, the death of magic and the birth of Christianity, and the hypocrisy of gov't. And it's all disguised as a PG movie about a dragon which is terrorizing a hamlet of decent people in the Dark Ages.

HIGHLY recommended. PG, but does have one foot gnawing which today would probably give it an R or X rating given the gutlessness of parents everywhere :). This is an early movie by Industrial Light and Magic, or ILM as it's known nowadays, and I believe was funded by Disney. Despite that it's got a gritty edge. Check it out, for youths and adults

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23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:


Author: Peach-2 from Netherlands
28 November 1998

Dragonslayer is a great fantasy film. The special effects hold up fairly well even today. The dragon is just a model and it looks fantastic. I was only 9 years old when I saw this film and it has stuck with me ever since. There are great performances and the direction is tight. The set design is also done well. Dragonslayer has a great atmosphere and you won't forget the image of the dragon rising from the water behind our hero anytime soon.

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26 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

A gem of an 80's era Fantasy epic.

Author: Victor L. from San Francisco, California, USA
3 September 2004

This movie benefits from an interesting plot, a wonderful female character played by Caitlin Clarke, and good plot twists. I'm not a big fan of the male lead; his looks are a little average and uninteresting to me. The only other drawback are the ugly hats characters wear in this film. However, what makes this movie unique are its visuals, which through creativity and hard work, outshines many fantasy movies of the 90's and early 2000's.

This film proves that it doesn't need 21st century technology to make a beautiful and visually complex piece. As I watched the dragon, it was easy to tell that it was not real; it had flaws in its appearance and its movements were not perfect. But that did not detract at all from the film, because what made the dragon impressive was the artistic elements of its design; its many layers of thin, translucent membrane, its finely chiseled and formed teeth, and the almost charcoal-like, tough scales on its hide. In many modern fantasy movies, the creatures and dragons are uninspired, dull, and drab, despite the computer engineering behind them. In the 80's, directors had to be creative to produce their desired effect, and this creativity went a long way in producing visuals that both wowed audiences with their appearance and the thought of the work that went into making them.

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24 out of 32 people found the following review useful:


Author: mxb2001 from Canada
17 April 2003

An intelligent Fantasy movie. The 80's produced many good fantasy movies but this one stands above the rest. The special effects (by ILM, same folks who did Star Wars) are superb. This is the best Dragon you have ever seen on screen. The cast is a mixed lot. Some are obviously trained stage actors while some are very fresh (i.e. new to acting). Fairly good performances from all nonetheless. The plot is top notch. This is not simple minded hack and slash. So if you want some mindless action flick, go elsewhere (preferably over a cliff). The plot moves slowly and you have to pay close attention to details or else you won't get it. In fact the the first time you watch it you may think you see some errors. They are not. Keep watching and all will fall in place. This is a movie which rewards the patient. And it rewards them exceedingly well. Enjoy!

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

The best dragon flick yet!

Author: rosscinema from United States
24 May 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was also one of those who saw this in the theaters more than once when it came out and I urged all of my friends to see it and some of them did take my advice. Story is about a village that sacrifices young maidens to a dragon that has been marauding the countryside. A group from the village travel to see a sorcerer named Ulrich (Sir Ralph Richardson) and ask him to slay the dragon which he accepts but is killed by the King's sheriff. Ulrich's young apprentice Galen (Peter MacNicol) decides to step in and agree to the task with the help from a magical amulet. The village is headed by King Casiodorus Rex (Peter Eyre) who has a lottery where the name of a young girl is picked for the sacrifice for the dragon but the King doesn't put his own daughters name in the drawing.


Galen is taken to the dragons lair and he causes a rock slide and he believes that this has killed the dragon but as it turns out it didn't and it comes back to wreak havoc so the King quickly starts up another lottery. Meanwhile, Galen has fallen in love with Valerian (Caitlin Clarke) and her father has made a mighty sword that hopefully can slay the dragon. Galen and his weapon head into the dragons lair to try and kill it but he quickly finds out that this dragon is going to be harder to slay than expected.

This film is directed by Matthew Robbins who never really had a great career as a director but he did have some success as a writer but he can be happy with this film because it's still considered the best dragon flick to date. Disney and Paramount got together to make this and the special effects by Industrial Light and Magic are just terrific and still stand up today even though effects have changed with CGI. The DVD transfer suffers somewhat and the studio's should definitely digitally remaster this film and re-release it on a special edition DVD. What makes the effects stand out is that they brilliantly made sure the dragon moved like a dragon would and it crawls like a bat or a lizard and it adds greatly to the reason why this is the best of it's kind. Robbins also does the right thing by not allowing the audience to get a good look at the dragon except in glimpses and it builds the chills and excitement until we finally do see the dragon. The film looks great from the wonderful location shots in Scotland to the dirty hovels that people lived in during those times. Richardson is a joy in a role that is to small but he makes the most of it with a lot of Latin muttering and lines like "Do you have anything to eat"? One of the highlights in the film (For me, anyway) is Clarke as the love interest and I was always charmed by her tough but attractive performance. She still pops up every once in a while in small roles but this was her largest role in her career and last I've heard she teaches at a college in Pennsylvania. Probably not a great film as it does lag in spots but don't let this sway you because this is a fun film and one hell of a dragon!

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A quirky, enjoyable journey into a magical Dark Age

Author: Doby-2 from Falls Church, VA
1 July 2004

Sir Ralph Richardson is the fulcrum of this delightful tale of a Medieval time that never was. Peter MacNicol's spontaneous boyishness makes the Sorcerer's Apprentice come alive in another garb. Of course, Alex North's remarkable, controversial score defines and deepens this fairy tale into a noire journey through the dark heart of human superstition driven by simultaneous fear of the unknown and lust for power. The magic here is as much the discovery of love and sensuality as it is a journey into the dragon's layer. Dark hearts are where you find them.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Best cinematic dragon ever!

Author: Greg from United States
25 July 2002

I'm not sure there's more than one compelling reason to see this film, but what a reason! As an SF/fantasy buff, I've seen my share of dragons on film, but there has never been one like Vermithrax Perjorative. The old beast simply looks, moves, sounds, acts, almost smells as one would imagine a dragon would. The filmmakers paid painstaking attention to detail in creating VP. Other film dragons look like animated clay figures, or lizards with wings glued on, or CGI effects (impressive, but still obviously computer-generated). This one looks like the cinematographer actually caught a dragon on film. The rest of the film is entertaining enough - not exactly Wellesian drama, but captivating nonetheless. Sir Ralph is marvelous, even in his twilight. And the fact that the dragon doesn't show until the end serves to heighten the suspense, ala Jaws or Alien. But, oh that dragon!! Well worth the price of admission. Can't wait to see it on DVD.

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