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Dragonslayer 4K UHD Review

“Dragonslayer” is worth seeing for the dragon.

In 1981’s fantasy adventure “Dragonslayer,” the kingdom of Urland is under siege by a fearsome dragon. The corrupt King Casiodorus attempts to appease the fire breathing beast with virgins, but the dragon still poses a threat naturally. An Urland citizen (the secretive Valerian) leads an expedition to Cragganmore to seek the sorcerer Ulrich’s help. To make a long story short, Urich’s apprentice Galen ends up traveling to Urland to try and stop the dragon.

Directed by Matthew Robbins and written by Robbins and Hal Barwood, “Dragonslayer” has everything you could want from an 80’s fantasy film. A rousing Award nominated score by Alex North, magic (and a magic amulet), Knights, sword fights, and, of course, dragons (even baby ones!). Now, admittedly, there’s not much to the story itself. It borrows heavily from other fantasy epics including “Lord Of The Rings” and even “Fantasia” (with the sorcerer and his apprentice aspect). Furthermore, the entire story is essentially one big lead in to the final confrontation with the towering dragon. Luckily, the dragon itself does not disappoint. In fact, this is one of cinema’s top tier dragons even to this day. The Oscar nominated ILM special effects are staggeringly cool. The combination of puppetry and hydraulics make the imposing dragon (AKA Vermithrax Perjorative) come to life on the big screen in a big bad way. It’s a real testament to the effects work by artists like the legendary Phil Tippett.

In terms of the cast, there are several fine performances here. Peter MacNicol (Galen) of “Ghostbusters 2” fame makes a solid lead. Caitlin Clarke (Valerian) has a real screen presence and is one of the film’s best characters. Ralph Richardson steals the entire movie as the sorcerer Ulrich. You wish he was in the movie more to be honest. Peter Eyre is memorable as the wormy King. Although his role is tiny, keep your eyes peeled for Ian McDiarmid of Star Wars fame too.


Presentation: 2.35:1 2160p. How does it look? Restored in 4K from the original camera negative, this remastered print looks pristine. Even the scenes in the candlelit Cragganmore look divine.

Audio Track: Dolby Atmos. How does it sound? From the opening bars of the score, you can tell this Atmos track is going to be a winner. Everything right down to the thundering dragon growls sounds exquisite here. Hands down one of the best audio tracks for an archival release.

* Digital copy
* Original theatrical trailer in HD
* Commentary by director Matthew Robbins and Guillermo del Toro.
* Nearly 16 minutes of cast “Screen Tests” in HD.
* “The Slayer Of All Dragons” (also in HD)- A 5 part extra that covers dragons, special effects, the film’s conception, casting, pre-production, the complex production, and the climactic battle. Film clips and interviews with Matthew Robbins, Phil Tippett, and Dennis Muren are included. 


March 20, 2023 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , ,

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