A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Beastmaster

November 22, 2010

The Beastmaster

Another B-movie tonight in honor of Desert Bus. Yesterday’s movie about the son of a hero who was prophesied to destroy an evil priest naturally reminded us of this movie about the son of a king who is prophesied to destroy an evil priest. There’s a strange sort of genre of eighties fantasy adventure. On the big budget side you have the Conan movies, and on the low budget side you have things like yesterday’s Ator movie and the Deathstalker movies. And somewhere in the middle you have things like this movie and Krull with better than average budgets and some recognisable faces. These movies share a lot of common tropes such as evil priests/wizards and big muscle bound heroes who hack and slash their ways through many foes and tend to blend into each other after a while.

This movie is actually a pretty major step above Ator. All the actors speak English for one thing. The make-up is pretty well done. (Particularly the creepy vampire people – who would later appear in Titan A.E.) The fight choreography is less laughable than in the Ator movies. There aren’t really any special effects, but there are some fun pyrotechnics and, as the title would seem to indicate, an awful lot of trained animals doing tricks. I was also somewhat thrown by the fact that the sweeping orchestral score is almost identacle to the Battlestar Galactica theme. I kept expecting to see Cylon fighter craft swooping over the hillside in battle formation.

Our chunky hero and subject of today’s prophesy is Dar – played by Marc Singer in a loin cloth. I will say that I think Miles O’Keefe is slightly better as a chunky hero that Marc Singer. Not that Singer isn’t quite well sculpted here, but he just doesn’t have the joy for this cheese. He’s all blank stares and strangely square white teeth. His foe is the ever versatile Rip Torn with braids and a Gandalf nose. He eventually acquires as an ally in the worldly warrior Seth played by John Amos. You know, I’d have rather seen John Amos as the Beastmaster… he’s a far better actor and generally more fun to have on the screen.

Amanda and I made a number of Macbeth references at the start of the movie. It starts out with some frighteningly hot-bodied crones telling Rip Torn’s Maax that he will be killed by the unborn son of the king. So he sends one of his crones to steal the unborn child (by magically transplanting the child to the womb of a cow) but before she can slay the tyke she is killed by a passing do-gooder who adopts Dar. (Dar was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped, you see.) Dar eventually discovers that he has an unnatural ability to communicate with wild animals. (Thus the Beastmaster – though in reality he’s more of a BeastBuddy – he doesn’t command the beasts so much as work with them.)

There’s a third party in the movie that somewhat muddies the plot but is essential to the climactic end battle. There is this horde of masked warriors who don’t seem to have anything to do with the king or with Maax – they just show up near the start of the movie to slaughter everybody in Dar’s adoptive village (and his dog!) Then they don’t show up again for a couple hours until for some reason they invade the city after what should have been the ending of the movie. This leads to a massive battle scene with a ton of fire and horses and such. (I had to wonder at the time why the Beastmaster never used his animal befriending powers to take over the enemy horses. I suppose he’s just not too bright – which explains quite a lot of the movie.)

I like a good fantasy film, but for some reason they are few and very far between. Maybe it’s just easier to churn out movies that involve scantily clad people swinging swords at each other. This is not a good movie, but it is not a horribly awful movie either. Indeed it was good enough to spawn two sequels and a televison series, so it must have been a success. I am sad to say that we do not own Krull – because it would be my natural inclination to watch that movie next… we’ll just have to watch some other crappy movie tomorrow.

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November 22, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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