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The Awfulness of Film Fantasy

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caldrail:
This afternoon I had the misfortune of stumbling across an eighties film called 'Hawk The Slayer'. To me it represented the worst of what Hollywood considers a fantasy environment. A messenger is trying to find the hero, and suffers one terrible injury or obstacle after another, almost as if he was only playing out a counterpoint role, to make the hero look good.

The hero himself is solidly arthurian in motive, riding around the wilderness finding people to rescue from bandits and villains, who it must be said just seem to exist here and there with no reference to a world around them. A series of set piece scenes rather than a coherent narrative with a consistent backdrop. And yes, Hawk the Slayer carries a magic sword.

I can forgive films of the time for less convincing production, special effects and CGI are now so brilliant it's impossible to be impressed by a painted matte screen. Yet it all comes down to the same thing. Places are simply there to stage a scene, not because a scene needed to to be played out somewhere in the fantasy world.

So it's the screen writing that fails? Stories told by people who perhaps don't understand fantasy or who are simply writing entertainment as they see it. As a musician, I know full well how hard it is to write songs about things you haven't experienced yourself. Perhaps the same is true of film, so a screenwriter who's never read a fantasy novel and has only a passing familiarity with LOTR or Arthurian myth can't write convincingly in a genre that was never mainstream to begin with?

I couldn't finish the film. It did have some star actors in it who gave perfectly good performances, just that the hero was a typical Hollywood pretty boy of the time whose 'stand still and stare menacingly' technique was not exactly credible, though it may have been partially a directorial fault. In fact, on reflection, there were enough clues in the acting to realise this was a western in drag, with sudden death axe, knife, or sword action rather than Colt Peacemakers. The wrong style. No sense of character, motive, just a load of people bumping into each other with one side walking or riding away afterward. Awful. Truly awful.

Ratman_tf:
I have a soft spot for Hawk the Slayer. Back in the Before Time, when fantasy films weren't hollywood processed and churned out by the dozens. It's fun in it's awfulness.
There's much better from that time period, like Dragonslayer or Ladyhawke, but I love me a cheesy, low budget mess like Hawk the Slayer sometimes. :)

Eirikrautha:

--- Quote from: Ratman_tf on October 25, 2021, 05:51:34 PM ---I have a soft spot for Hawk the Slayer. Back in the Before Time, when fantasy films weren't hollywood processed and churned out by the dozens. It's fun in it's awfulness.
There's much better from that time period, like Dragonslayer or Ladyhawke, but I love me a cheesy, low budget mess like Hawk the Slayer sometimes. :)

--- End quote ---
Truth.  It was a film for D&D nerds, not the Academy...

deadDMwalking:
I can't hate Hawk the Slayer because the Knights of the Dinner Table love it so sincerely. 

A fantasy movie COULD be good, but a huge part of fantasy is establishing the world and how it works.  That's hard to do in 90-minutes.  It's easier if you're converting a novel and expect the audience to be familiar with the world, but it's a much easier task to do as a mini-series/trilogy/HBO multi-season prestige show. 

It's not IMPOSSIBLE.  I think Willow does a pretty good job of setting up the world in a Middle-Earth mashup and succeeds in 126 minutes, but it uses 30 minutes of Elwynn village life and choosing a magical apprentice to explain the world. 

Trond:
Hawk The Slayer? Never heard of it before, but now that I've seen the trailer I should thank you. Reminds me a bit of Bollywood  :D

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