Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 1988. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Lucasfilm, Imagine Entertainment. Story by George Lucas, Screenplay by Bob Dolman. Cinematography by Adrian Biddle. Produced by Nigel Wooll. Music by James Horner. Production Design by Allan Cameron. Costume Design by Barbara Lane. Film Editing by Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill, Richard Hiscott. Academy Awards 1988.
Coming at the end of a decade of Conan movies and the likes of Red Sonja, this sword-and-sorcery adventures certainly seems to be the best of the era. Warwick Davis plays a diminutive hero who is given the task of safely transporting a child born to prophecy to the castle of an evil queen (Jean Marsh) who has held the land under her harsh rule. He is helped on his journey by a brave warrior (Val Kilmer) with serious self-importance issues, two little sprites called Brownies and the powers of the mystical child herself. Utilizing groundbreaking visual effects and beautiful cinematography to good effect, the film is hampered by Ron Howard’s clunky direction which always seems to be going out of its way to be as graceless as possible. Howard never lets the more mythical aspects of the story come to full fruition, instead concentrating his energy on the silly pratfalls of his lesser characters and on mindless chase sequences. Excellent acting helps, but the film will only really appeal to young children (those who won’t be scared by the nastier scenes, at least) and sci-fi devotees. Kilmer and then-wife Joanne Whalley (who met while filming this) have the film’s best scenes as enemy warriors who just can’t help but have the hots for each other.