20 February 2011

Movies: Dragonslayer

Dragonslayer http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082288/
I had to watch something to wash the memories of the previous two flicks (Collector, Yesterday) out of my brain, so I watched this.

This 1981 Disney flick still stands firm today. It is good entertainment, even for the kids (if you don't mind them seeing a blurry underwater sideboob or Peter MacNicol's buttcrack).
Basically the king had struck a deal with an ancient dragon to sacrifice a girl virgin at each solstice in exchange for the dragon not razing the countryside willy-nilly. At the request of a small party of villagers, an apprentice sorcerer goes to a small village to slay the dragon and bring an end to the sacrifices. 
Why nobody thought to just 'take care of' the virginity problem and eliminate the lottery pool still mystifies me. I'm sure it wouldn't take a sorcerer for that solution. Heck if i were a local village boy I'd be 'saving' girls left and right. But I digress.

The effects are still pretty good by today's standards, and the stop-motion animated dragon is still as awesome as it was back in '81. Especially knowing the details behind how the animation was filmed with the aid of a computer (Apple II I think, but I can't find a reference) - which was an animation technique innovation at the time that found it's way into later ILM-enhanced movies.
I also admire that the dragon in the film only has 4 limbs like all real vertebrates have. Most traditional dragon depictions have 2 legs, 2 arms, and 2 wings which makes them unique among vertebrates. Had to geek out there.
This movie really stands out among live action Disney flicks for me, I guess because it doesn't follow the normal Disney formula. From what I recall, Disney spun up Touchstone Pictures soon after this flick to handle more adult-themed movies and insulate them from the Disney name.
The story isn't incredibly complex, but it doesn't hurt the flick. It has its humorous moments, the acting is par. The effects, as mentioned before, don't detract from the film, and the dragon is probably one of the better film dragons still. I think the first jaw-dropping viewing of Jurassic Park in a theater was the only comparable film beast experience for me. Kinda sad how young'uns see the state of today's animation/CG/special effects (sure to improve in the future) and probably won't fully appreciate the development of the techniques.
It was a good nostalgic viewing of a movie I've seen many times already, and the perfect antidote to [The Collector & Yesterday was a Lie].

(original post 20 April 2010)

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