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DRAGONSLAYER

DRAGONSLAYER ($20) is a dark and somewhat graphic fantasy film that was a surprising collaboration between Paramount and Walt Disney Pictures. With a goodly amount of violence and gore, DRAGONSLAYER was not the kind of film that audiences expected from Disney, especially in 1981. However, I think that it is the darker tone of DRAGONSLAYER that has made it something of a personal favorite and a film that I have been eager to acquire since the early days of the DVD format. Set during the age of sorcery, the plot of DRAGONSLAYER is concerned with a kingdom that is plagued by an ancient dragon. As a way of appeasing the creature and preserving the kingdom, a lottery is held, one in which one young maiden is selected and sacrificed to the dragonís appetite. Some of the peasants, hoping to put an end to the deadly lottery, seek the help of an elderly wizard named Ulrich (Ralph Richardson), whom they hope will vanquish the dragon. Unfortunately, Ulrich is killed before he is able to face the dragon, which forces Galen (Peter MacNicol), the sorcererís apprentice, to take up his masterís obligation. The cast of DRAGONSLAYER also features Caitlin Clarke, John Hallam, Peter Eyre, Albert Salmi, Sydney Bromley and Chloe Salaman.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made DRAGONSLAYER available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Paramount deserves high praise for this new transfer because this is the absolute best DRAGONSLAYER has looked in the home venue, even outclassing the widescreen Laserdisc issue by a nice margin. The image on the DVD appears clearer, sharper and better defined than it has in the past, and rates as nothing less than terrific. Colors can be somewhat subdued, which may have something to do with the fact that DRAGONSLAYER is something of a dark looking movie. Interiors offer better saturation than exteriors, and produce warmer hues whenever natural fire lighting is used. Blacks are pretty accurate, as are the whites, plus the picture produces fine contrast and more than respectable shadow detail. The film element used for the transfer appears pretty clean, with only some minor blemishes. There are some instances where film grain is prevalent, but this presentation greatly reduces the graininess of past incarnations. Digital compression artifacts are usually well contained. Kudos to Paramount for a great transfer.

For this release DRAGONSLAYER comes with an upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The sound mix seems to be very faithful to filmís Dolby Surround origins, as though the un-matrixed sound stems were transcribed to the digital format intact. As expected, the forward soundstage is dominant, with the rear channels coming to life infrequently, but rather effectively. There is good channel separation across the front hemisphere, for both sound effects and Alex Northís fine musical score. Fidelity is good, although there is no mistaking that the recordings are two decades old. The bass channel is solid enough, although it lacks a ground-shaking component. An English Dolby Surround track is also provided, along with English subtitles. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features. No extras have been included on the DVD.

DRAGONSLAYER is a dark, but entertaining fantasy film that has been a long time in coming to DVD. Paramount has done a terrific job with the filmís presentation, producing an excellent transfer that will more than please fans. If fantasy films are your thing, or you are amongst those already well acquainted with DRAGONSLAYER, then you will definitely want to pick up this DVD. Recommended.

 

DRAGONSLAYER 


Dragonslayer (1981)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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