A well intentioned fantasy with some wonderful special effects, Dragonslayer falls somewhat short on continuously intriguing adventure. Technically speaking, it is an expertly mounted period piece concerning a boy’s attempt to slay a fire-breathing dragon in order to save an entire kingdom. However, the story line is often tedious and the major action sequences appear much too late in the picture.
Ralph Richardson limns the properly mysterious (and too seldom seen) sorcerer that members of a neighbouring kingdom seek as the only person who can slay the terrorizing dragon.
Early on Richardson’s powers are put to the test by a representative of the king, who seems to kill the sorcerer. It is then up to his apprentice, newcomer Peter MacNicol, to fight the dragon with the magic at his disposal.
MacNicol has the proper look of innocence to be a little unnatural in his performance. Along the way he is given nice support by Caitlin Clarke as a spunky love interest.
The real stars (as expected) of this film are the fabulous special effects. Given the high failure rate, it’s especially refreshing to see experts come up with the imaginative and effective devices.
1981: Nomination: Best Visual Effects