Friday, October 8, 2010

1985 Saturn Fantasy Award – LADYHAWKE

I thought this film would be worth a look because it’s really the first time a "sword and sorcery" film has won this prize since the award;s 1975 inception (when The Golden Voyages of Sinbad won). Considering how much that genre dominates speculative fiction, I find it interesting that it has not fared as well in film, outside of The Lord of the Rings films.

Ladyhawke begins with a young thief named Mouse (Matthew Broderick), who escapes from a dungeon under the thumb of the cruel Bishop of Aquilla. He is saved from the Bishop’s guards by a strong knight named Navarre (Rutger Hauer). During the day, he journeys with Navarre and his hawk, but at night Navarre seems to disappear, and he meets Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is shadowed by a large wolf. There’s a curse involved – figure it out.

Overall, it’s an interesting premise, and everything but the score has aged pretty well (but, wow, is it an awful score – cheesy, new wave-inflected synthesizer work by the Alan Parsons Project). Producer/Director Richard Donner of the first two Superman films had a solid budget to work with, and the production values are pretty high as a result; the twelfth century European setting feels gritty and real. The dialogue is wooden (I think that’s expected in fantasy films for whatever reason), and I don’t buy Rutger Hauer as a leading man. It’s not the greatest film I’ve ever seen, but it’s pleasantly diverting, and in the shallow field of sword and sorcery films, it looks solid.

Grade: B

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