I have a problem. You see, I've come up with a new feature for the blog, something I'll be adding as an occasional piece – what I'm calling Public Service Reviewing. I even came up with a great tag line – 'I watched it, so you don't have to'. It's a good tag line. I'm proud of it. I picked up a load of cheap – and low-rated – movies on Amazon, mostly fantasy with a few historicals sprinkled in, and decided to see just how low it could go. I bought 'Amazons vs Gladiators', for heaven's sake. So, what is my problem?
The first movie I reviewed is actually good. Rewatchable good. Recommendable to my friends and readers good. Sigh.
This is 'Dawn of the Dragon Slayer', which I bought in the blu-ray version (and to get that out of the way, it looked great but had zero special features...which is a little disappointing, because I would have liked a commentary for this one, a making-of, something) and fired up. It opens with a man playing a flute being burned to a crisp by a dragon, which is a nice opening – though it does ruthlessly expose the limited CGI budget – and then we cut to our lead, a shepard's son called...Shepard... (sigh) in the hills, who decides to try and slay a dragon that has been killing his sheep.
I'm not going to go heavily into spoiler territory here, but essentially, this is a bildungsroman, but a good one. It's a low-budget production, but the production team has been...sensible. The weak spot is the dragon and its effects, though there are some good moments while it is attacking the castle, and I suspect they knew that, as we don't see the dragon that often – instead, the plot concentrates on story and character, and relies on the actors to carry it off...and they do. The paucity of extras does show a little at times – it would have been nice to have a few more people in the background – but that's not a failing, really.
The show is shot almost entirely on location in Ireland, and my god they take maximum advantage of the scenery to get some fantastic shots. Roger Corman, when filming in Greece, said that he didn't need sets for his movie with all the ruins around, and this is perfectly true; the cinematography is excellent. The soundtrack...isn't. During some of the 'run across the landscape' scenes it's needlessly dramatic and pounding – something a little more...wistful, perhaps, would have been better. Something a little softer.
This isn't a great movie, but it is a good one. Which is perfectly fine by me; it's a film you can put on, watch for ninety minutes, and enjoy. I can't tell you what the DVD is like, but frankly...buy it on blu-ray. The footage is worth it. There is a sequel coming out, but it doesn't seem to be staring many of the cast from this one, and the production company has done some more fantasy movies, including a recent Kickstarter. (Which I backed, before I watched this movie.) I'll certainly be watching future movies by this group. Soon, I hope, as I already have another – in blu-ray – and another pre-ordered.
So, I watched it so you don't have to, but in this particular case, I'd rather recommend you do.