I recently watched a lot of dramas and war movies and decided I needed a break from reality. So I drank some shoe polish, banged my ahead against the tiled floor and watched The Beastmaster.
In retrospect it might have been easier flicking on the E Channel to get the same result… Too late now I watched it.
When a good king banishes an overacting evil dude from the kingdom for being too evil – oh and for wanting to sacrifice his unborn son – you would wonder why he didn’t make this decision sooner, what with the evil witches and prophecies and such.
Doesn’t matter now it’s been done.
Only the old evil dude takes the unborn kid anyway, only to have it saved from sacrifice at the last second by a helpful passer by, who immediately reverses his good deed by naming the kid Dar.
Dar and his saviour share a reasonably uneventful life as Dar grows and matures, except that is for the little fact about Dar being able to communicate with animals through his thoughts… but that is kept a secret until Dar becomes a strapping well muscled young man.
Then the bad guys arrive and massacre the entire peaceful village including Dar’s Pa, and Dar decides ‘what could be the harm’ in using his animal powers. Within hours he has amassed a small menagerie of buddies including a black tiger, an eagle and two ferrets that he names Kodo and Podo without a moment’s thought (which is why they are named Kodo and Podo).
Oh and such adventures they have!
On their travels they come across a redheaded slave girl that Dar swears by his shuddering loincloth to emancipate. Then he meets Seth (John Amos) and some kid and like an RPG addict Dar tacks their little life tasks onto his list of things to do.
It’s all very Conan the Barbarian lite, only with the occasional act of ferret or clumsily plotted tiger task.
The strange thing is that the production values are quite good for such a C grade flick. The sets, costumes, even makeup effects are all more than adequate for such crapola. Even the acting is just the right side of wooden for the most part – though I feel so bad for John Amos that this is anywhere near his CV. Where The Beastmaster is an abject failure is the so called action; which is never less than deplorable.
The fights are horrible, which is bad because there are more than a few; extras stand and hover for full seconds waiting for their next parry or to be stabbed clumsily by a sword that clearly misses them by entire feet. This is mostly the fault of the leads, who are uniformly deplorable, but the blame can easily be spread around. In one awfully choreographed sequence for extras sprint towards a closing drawbridge just in time to all carefully jump under the descending spikes in obvious fashion.
Funny how much time they spent setting up the costumes and sets only to waste it all with a hackneyed effort completed by idiots. It all looks a lot like Army of Darkness wrapped and Sam Raimi gestured to a bunch of bystanders to have at the materials and sets.
The Beastmaster is what they came up with…
Final Rating – 5 / 10. A well meaning disaster of a film, with simple aims but not the skills nor the know-how to pull them together.