The Hunters of the Golden Cobra (1982)

golden cobraSteven Spielberg’s classic Raiders of the Lost Ark has seen its fair share of imitators and blatant knock-offs, certainly during the early 80’s when it was fresh. In this case, we have an Italian-made knock-off that plays out like a made-for-TV film. It’s essentially a low-budget knock-off of Indiana Jones, but with only tiny fraction of the charm. It’s pretty silly on the whole, and to be completely honest, it’s not that great of a matinee film, considering how much it looks like a cheaply made carbon copy.

The film’s story, which is set in 1944, involves two textbook action heroes, an typically rugged American solider named Bob Jackson, and a stereotypically British intelligence agent David Franks. Together they’re on a mission in the Philippines to track down an ancient relic called the Golden Cobra, teaming up with a woman searching for her missing sister.

Honestly, there’s not much to say about the story, but it’s a bit jumbled and gets off to a frenetic and silly start. It’s mildly entertaining for a while, but then get into a lot of weird nonsense that seems like it was jammed into the film in order to distinguish it from Indiana Jones, which ultimately fails because the film is so much like Indiana Jones and so cliché-ridden that it’s downright comical. Even the climactic final showdown is rendered impotent by poor choreography.

The characters are pretty much plain stock characters, but they have their quirky moments. Indeed, the British character was so ridiculous that he’s actually moderately funny. However the film is ruined by some terribly bad acting. A lot of the characters come across as remarkably hammy, like they got people who don’t do much acting, and only did one take. It also sounds like they dubbed the voices over the movie. I assume this to be the case, given that the film was originally released in Italy and eventually got an English language release a few years later. I also noticed that there are a number of background characters that look like they don’t really belong in the film, like a sailor who looks a bit like John Candy.

I have to assume the film must have had a low budget, because the film looks cheaply made. I’m not sure, but I think there might have been a few cardboard props. Unique to this film, however, is that sometimes you’ll see a few scenes that are kind of like spaghetti Western scenes (specifically, these are gunplay scenes), just a lot cheesier. Everything in the film is the cheesier version of Indiana Jones, like taking a loving tribute to old school B-movie and turning it into an actual C-movie.

I’m not entirely sure if this film could have been much better, considering it’s basically a knock-off. In other words, this film was clearly pointless. I sometimes wonder why I subject my eyes and ears to films like these, perhaps so you don’t have to. Either way, if only I were paid to this.

  • Score: 48%
  • Grade: D

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Oh Tim Burton, I grew up with your movies when they used to be good, and now I find you languishing in typical Hollywood fantasy fare. Not that this was a particularly bad film. In truth it was quite decent, and the premise was certainly original, but in practice it ended up as a sort of paint-by-numbers affair, showing once again that Hollywood always tends to squander any squint of potential.

The film revolves around a young boy named Jake Portman, who after witnessing his grandfather’s death at the hands of a monster that only he can see, is given permission by his psychiatrist to go to the Welsh island of Cairnholm in order to find an old home for children with certain magical abilities. He finds that they live in a time loop, and winds up upending their fragile equilibrium in order to help save them from the crazy scheme of a mad scientist wanting to gave himself eternal life.

I have probably oversimplified this to a vast degree, but that’s essentially what happens. Anyway, the story itself isn’t bad, but from the beginning I find that the producers put in a bunch of often cringeworthy scenes that seem to have been written in just to pad length in a film that already straddles a somewhat convoluted plot. Honestly, it seemed to me that this could have been much better as an anime film, not that the Hollywood elite would ever entertain such an idea. Also, full disclosure, I know this is based on a book, probably another one that you won’t have read prior to watching the film, and I don’t care, the reason being that a film should be able to stand on its own (this is why I was so critical of the Harry Potter films, which tended to ride on the coattails of J.K. Rowling’s novels), and this film just barely does that.

The characters aren’t bad, but they’re hindered by the typical Hollywood practice of having them overact nearly every line, and even Samuel L. Jackson, arguably the best actor in the whole film, couldn’t escape this trend. The film presents itself decently, but I can’t be the only one who’s tired of every Hollywood film having such an overly polished look, to the point that it’s barely real anymore. However, the film’s special effects make for decent fireworks, and the film’s saving grace can be found in the climactic showdown, although the ending showed that the writers were content with some good old-fashioned schmaltzy closer.

Again, this wasn’t a bad film, but it’s fairly indistinguishable from an average 2010’s-era dark fantasy film (never mind that most if not all films made in the genre are pretty much the same now anyway), and it could have done much better if Tim Burton were at least more willing to think outside the box. With this film, he looks more like a lazy hack than the artist of his prime, having undergone a similarly ghastly transformation as several other Hollywood directors from his era.

  • Score: 60%
  • Grade: C

A Wind Named Amnesia (1990)

Kaze_no_Na_Wa_Amnesia_(pamphlet)Another day, another obscure anime film that piques my interest, this one being a post-apocalyptic film from the supposed golden age of anime and manga. Nonetheless, this film is interesting own way, perhaps mainly because of its premise, though not quite in the same way as the last film I picked.

In the film, which is set in 1999 (but made in 1990), a mysterious wind blew all over the planet, and then suddenly most of humanity lost all of their memory, forgetting their names, how to speak, or even how to use the tools of modern civilisation, and thus mankind has been reduced to a primitive state. Two years later, a re-educated American man who now goes by the name Wataru travels across the country with a mysterious woman named Sophia, hoping to help people rediscover the knowledge their ancestors left behind.

Before I saw the film, I thought the title was pointlessly highbrow, but when I actually watched the film, the premise, though it made for an interesting story, made even less sense. I know it’s a sci-fi film and so I should be inclined to engage in the suspension of disbelief, but there’s a lot that isn’t very well explained, including how this wind is supposed to affect people’s memory. Usually sci-fi films at least try to explain what happens, but then when the film finally does drop the explanation (Sophia being a representative of a race of “higher beings”), it only makes even less sense. The main thing I took from the story is that, in this film at least, higher beings are retarded, and have no idea how to help humanity.

The characters leave quite a bit to be desired, and to be fair, the film’s length doesn’t help matters much. At 81 minutes, the film is much too short and it doesn’t do a whole lot with its characters. Right at the beginning, the main character sounds like a jibbering idiot (which makes sense given the context, though compared to most of the denizens of his world he might as well be a genius). In fact, a lot of times, the film comes across as an accidental comedy due to how silly the characters often seem, and it’s mostly because of the bit parts. It doesn’t help that the English dub for the film is rather cheesy, which, unfortunately, I kind of expected.

Of course it’s not a totally bad film. In fact, I was thoroughly entertained by the film’s accidental humour. And of course, like many other anime films of the time, the art style was very good, with detailed, hand-drawn characters and objects. I also like the musical score they composed for the film, at least film producers had some taste back in the day. To be fair, it does make a for a fairly good adventure film, and it could have been amazing overall, but in my mind, I think they should have worked on the plot a bit more, because I think the film itself is a bit too silly, and is often more of an accidental comedy than it ought to have been.

  • Score: 69%
  • Grade: C

Escaflowne (2000)

escaflowneNot a day goes by when I don’t think that I haven’t watched enough anime, and so I thought of a number of anime films and series’ I may have wanted to try out, and amongst them was Escaflowne (sometimes billed as Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaia), an anime film I found and became interested in last year. Apparently based on a TV series called Visions of Escaflowne (which I must check out before I croak), I’ve heard that it differs from it in various ways, making it a fairly loose adaptation, but on its own, I’d say it was pretty good, with its engaging story in a well-crafted fantasy world.

The film revolves around Hitomi Kanzaki, a depressed high school girl plagued by unusual dreams that cause her such sorrow that she wants to disappear from the world, and her wish is heard in the alternate world of Gaea by a man named Lord Folken, the leader of the Black Dragon Clan who wishes to conquer Gaea and bring about its destruction. In Gaea, she is the prophesied “Wing Goddess” who will revive the Escaflowne, a doomsday weapon that can either destroy or save Gaea. As she develops a close friendship with the rebel leader Van, she becomes more hopeful, and in overcoming her sorrow, she wishes to save Gaea from being destroyed by the man who brought her there.

The story goes in a somewhat familiar direction, and I don’t like that it meanders a bit during the beginning, but it’s not without its character or charm. It has elements of both traditional fantasy and mecha-oriented sci-fi, with hints of romantic drama throughout. It’s quite an eclectic mix of genres, blended together into a neatly paced 98-minute film. Even if it has its flaws, I definitely enjoyed the story from beginning to end, and chiefly because it was simply an entertaining watch.

It has long been established that English dubs of old anime films tended to be mostly cheesy (that was certainly true in the dub of Vampire Hunter D), but I don’t think that’s a problem in Escaflowne. Judging by the Ocean Studios dub, the acting wasn’t that bad, and I liked the characters quite a bit. The main character didn’t appeal to me much, but the film’s deuteragonist, the rebel leader Van, was a much more striking protagonist, mainly because he shows great power, and like many familiar fantasy heroes, is unafraid to unleash it if he thought he was doing good by it. There are a number of interesting side characters, some of them are part animal (including Merle, a likably eccentric catgirl). However, I felt that Lord Folken was a particularly strong character. In fact, he reminds me of a character I wrote and drew for one of my one fantasy stories.

Though I personally think Escaflowne’s art style is as well-drawn as other anime films and series’ (I’ve seen images of the Escaflowne TV series, and they look quite good compared to this), I still think the film looked good, and it definitely had the mark of an imaginative fantasy film, with fantastical characters, costumes, and locations that appeal to my blatant sensibilities as a fantasy fan, complete with the showdown between two mechas (one of them obviously being Escaflowne, which at some point turns into a dragon). I’ve always held the belief that animation as a medium is an enabler of greater creative freedom, and this film certainly proves that.

Even with its flaws, I can’t really critique Escaflowne that much. After all, I genuinely enjoyed that film, and would certainly be interested in other films like it. I can’t help but think that one day, I may be a connoisseur of films like Escaflowne, as I seem to find them innately appealing, with this film being a good example of why.

  • Score: 75%
  • Grade: B

The Black Hood (1981)

the_black_hoodThe Black Hood is another one of those foreign action films that’s painfully obscure. Seriously, IMDb knows absolutely nothing about this film, and in the discography of its lead actor, it doesn’t seem to be listed (at least not on IMDb or Wikipedia). For me, this is literally a film I had to dive into without any knowledge whatsoever, and to be honest, it was quite a fun ride.

The film is set in Japan during the closing years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which effectively makes this a work of historical fiction. In the background you have a conflict between the ruling shogunate and the Satsuma-Choshu alliance. From what I can tell, the story is about the endeavours of a masked man who works to fight injustice and protect the people of Edo. He works with supporters of the shogunate in order to retrieve a map from the Satsuma-Choshu alliance, hoping to avoid a bloodbath.

The main character is basically a ninja acting as a vigilante, sort of like a jidaigeki Batman, and that’s honestly an awesome concept. The story itself is very straightforward, and at 90 minutes, the film moves at quite a fast pace. There isn’t a lot of depth, but that isn’t wholly necessary for this kind of film. Also, if you’re looking for subtitles, my advice is to either find the film on YouTube with subtitles enabled, or hope and pray that you find a DVD that works in your region and has English subtitles available.

The acting is alright, though in my case it’s kind of hard to tell. The main character is by far the most interesting character in the whole film, which perhaps should be obvious. He’s the only character you expect to care about in the whole movie, which is understandable because he’s the one meting out vigilante justice, and that’s pretty much all that matters here. Little did I know that the main character, Kaiketsu Kurozukin, was actually an enduringly popular character in Japan, originating in the silent era and being rebooted throughout the 20th century, though this appears to be the last film I’ve found where he appears, and it’s apparently a made-for-TV production.

For a made-for-TV film, the production values aren’t totally bad. One thing I like about this film is that it opens with the main character striking down a group of bad guys, followed by a short guitar riff. The way the film looks almost reminds me of NBC’s Shogun, just that it’s somewhat cheaper. The fight choreography is definitely better, with some scenes resembling Western gunplay. But of course, swordplay is the main course here, and this film has it in spades.

If you can get a hold of this film, watch it as soon as you can. You might not get another chance to watch this rare and obscure film. It’s not the best film of its kind, but I certainly thought it was fun. It was a refreshingly straightforward action film that didn’t disappoint, and it’s comforting to know that there are plenty of films like it, if you’re interested that is.

  • Score: 70%
  • Grade: C

UPDATE (4/9/2017): It has come to my attention that there is now a page for this film on IMDb.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

achmedSeveral months ago I had heard of a unique curiosity from the early days of animation. Made exactly nine decades ago, it has the honour of being one of the oldest films I could find (the oldest being Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror), and in all honesty, I found it to be a very enjoyable, if rather cryptic piece of animation history.

Given that it’s one of those silent films from the 20’s, there’s pretty much no speaking, and so the film’s primary method of conveying the story is the art of visual communication, and through intertitles. Of course, the intertitles are all in German, so unless you can read German, you pretty much have to watch the events unfold on their own.

From what I know, the story is loosely based on elements of One Thousand and One Nights (and another story “The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou”), and from what I can tell, it sees the main character, Prince Achmed, on a quest to save his sister from a devious sorcerer, and meets a beautiful queen named Pari Banu, who also abducted by the sorcerer, and rescued by Prince Achmed, with the aid of Aladdin and the witch of a flaming mountain.

It’s all a very imaginative story that, strangely enough, manages to express itself without the need of words, but this has more to do with the technique of animation (which I’ll discuss later), rather than the actual plot. I also notice that the story is divided into five acts, and though they share the same aesthetic style and all follow a linear plot, somehow they all have their own charm that I can’t exactly explain. The film itself is around 65 minutes long, but somehow, that’s just fine.

Let’s talk about the style of animation the film employs. The film was written, directed and animated by Lotte Reiniger, a film director who pioneered the technique of silhouette animation, which is a kind of stop-motion animation that involves manipulating cutout characters and objects made out of cardboard and sheets of lead under a camera. It’s a bit like shadow puppetry, only the figures are moved frame by frame. It is one of the earliest examples of stop motion animation, and it also has the distinction of being the oldest surviving animated film in history (others were made but are apparently lost).

This kind of technique, though the film itself looks visibly dated in some parts, really brings the story and characters to life, and the film’s Arabesque art style matches it in quite an incredible way, and it’s made all the more striking by the fact that the film only uses two colours at a time. Sometimes the background colour changes, but the figures are always silhouettes, and thus remain black. The film is also backed by a whimsical orchestral score. I should point out that, when originally released, it had a different musical score, but the DVD release uses a new score, conducted I believe by a man known as K. Leikenbroecker. I felt the score accompanied the film quite well, and it especially worked with the animation style.

Overall, while it might not seem very substantive compared to modern films, it’s worth watching to see a work of animation unlike any other before or since, and it has certain qualities that make it very entertaining on its own.

  • Score: 77%
  • Grade: B

Titan A.E. (2000)

Titan_AE_One_SheetDon Bluth used to be one of the most respected animators in the film industry (and probably still is), where he became famous for his work on many popular Disney films such as The RescuersThe Fox and the Hound and Robin Hood. He then went on to form his own company and direct his own films. This led to one his greatest films, The Secret of NIMH, but unfortunately, it also led to this lazy abomination of a film called Titan A.E., which disappoints in every possible area. Though I doubt you could expect much from a film like this, but believe me, it somehow manages to be even more boring sci-fi fare than it looks.

The premise revolves around an invading race of energy-based aliens called the Drej, who at the start of the film destroy Earth, leaving the surviving humans drifting throughout space and being ridiculed by other races. The rest of the film sees its protagonist Cale Tucker guiding a crew of humans and aliens towards the Titan space station, which was built with the purpose of creating a new planet in the event that Earth was destroyed.

The film’s plot is very standard sci-fi riding on all manner of story clichés, including the obligatory betrayal by a supporting character. It’s the kind of film that tries for space opera territory but runs of fuel right before it could get there. The writers and producers tried whatever they could to keep it afloat, but failed miserably. In this regard, a lot of is to do with the fact that the writers did very little to explain the things that needed to explain it. For example, why do the Drej not want the Titan space station to be found, and why would any human sell out the future of his own kind?

Speaking of that, the characters are so flat and lazily written that not even an star-studded cast could save them. They simply come across to me as cookie-cutter Stargate characters in a movie that’s somehow out of even their league. The acting isn’t even that great to be wholly honest, as if the Hollywood stars they got to work on this film were only in it for the money. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. The dialogue is also really lazily written, with the Drej suffering from the laziest writing the film has to offer.

As for the visuals, the film’s animation style is a mixture of traditional hand-drawn animation and extensive CGI. The end result definitely looks polished, but a polished turd is still a turd. The film looks like a bigger, shinier version of a Saturday morning cartoon from the 1990’s. At the very least it accomplishes the easy feat of presenting itself better than Heavy Metal 2000 (another animated atrocity from the year 2000), but could somebody tell me why the producers thought that a Don Bluth film needed music from contemporary rock bands? The music is awful, and it reflects badly on the mindset of whoever decided to put it in the film.

To be honest, I think the film might have had some potential, but the producers just squandered it without a care in the world, and the consequences are rather apparent given mixed critical reception and disappointing box office returns (the film made $36.8 million against a $75-90 million budget). It’s also rather telling that after this film was released, Don Bluth never directed another movie, which is such a shame because of what he made before. If the plethora of cheap direct-to-video sequels (made without his involvement) didn’t tarnish his name, then this film surely did. Even if it’s not terribly bad, it’s a creative low point for someone who was clearly a talented visionary in the field of animation.

  • Score: 50%
  • Grade: D

Ladyhawke (1985)

Ladyhawke_ver1In terms of fantasy fare, Ladyhawke is an inoffensive and fairly standard film, not much when compared to some of the higher standards set by other fantasy films of the era like The Neverending Story or Conan the Barbarian, but what it does have is a certain kind of arrestingly likeable charm that makes this medieval fairy tale worth watching, especially for those who appreciate fantasy films.

The premise is intriguing to say the least. A young thief escapes from the dungeons beneath a bishop’s castle, and after being saved from capture by a former captain of the guard, he stumbles on a mysterious woman, and a tale of romance and jealousy. The driving force behind the plot is a former captain of the guard named Etienne Navarre, and his lover Isabeau d’Anjou. The latter is cursed to turn into a hawk when the sun rises, and the former is turned into a wolf when the sun sets. Apparently the Bishop of Aquila was so jealous of their love that he made a pact with Satan in order to curse them.

The writers seem to have used this curse in order to illustrate the idea of being always together and yet eternally apart. The story itself is pretty simple, yet it’s strangely compelling because of how well it’s told. The film’s avoidance of a fully serious tone works to good advantage, because with its kind of story, Ladyhawke would be very boring if it tried to be an overly serious film.

The characters seem to be rather hit or miss, at least in terms of the way they perform. Matthew Broderick’s performance seems to suit his character, but he’s pretty weak as an actor, which is why I found it odd that he got the lead role. Rutger Hauer fares much better as the true hero of the film, despite his often frosty personality, and Michelle Pfeiffer performed well as Isabeau, the role that she was an ideal fit for. Okay, the casting wasn’t particularly solid. They have the low-budget equivalent of Jeremy Irons playing the main villain, but on the whole I’d say the acting was very good.

Like many fantasy films of the 1980’s, Ladyhawke can easily boast fine visuals, sometimes to the point of scenery porn. Seriously, the film looks fantastic, except for those cheap-looking special effects. When you see close-up shots of Rutger and Michelle transforming, it looks as though they seriously cut corners in the SFX department. One notable aspect of the film is its famously synth-laden soundtrack. Sometimes it can be cheesy, but I actually like it. Then again, I have a major soft spot for synthesizers, even if the synths are sometimes misplaced.

At the very least the film has a good balance of romance, story, and swordplay (which there is a lot more of towards the end of the film). As a fantasy film, it isn’t as ambitious as it could have been, but on the other hand, it clearly benefits from not having too many ideas above its station. Even though it’s not as good as it could be, all the elements that are there seem to be in harmony with each other, and it’s generally a good film all-round.

  • Score: 72%
  • Grade: C

The Golden Compass (2007)

The_Golden_CompassPersonally, I always thought of this film as a dumb, impotent Narnia clone when it was new, and nearly a decade later, it certainly hasn’t aged well at all. I haven’t exactly read the book this is based on, but I’ve heard dozens of complaints saying that the book toned down several of the anti-religious elements of the books in order to avoid angering the Catholics. I can certainly tell that the plot was written very lazily, and it seems that they tried fitting in all manner of plot devices, events and characters in a film that’s clearly too short to handle everything. On top of that, the film is paced in such a manner that it seems as though everything’s being rushed, and it leaves too little time for the characters to develop properly, and bodes just as poorly for the many unanswered questions that the film’s haphazardly written plot leaves behind.

To be completely honest though, the film’s mythology could have been quite interesting, and there might have been some hope for it had the screenwriters made more of an effort, but they settled on a trimmed down, by-the-numbers fantasy flick, and to make matters worse, they deliberately designed the ending so that it could lead on to a sequel, never mind that it would never ever get a sequel, not that such a meagre film deserves one. The characters weren’t overly bad, but they were written in such a way that you can’t really feel for them no matter how hard the actors try to convince us to feel for them. It doesn’t help that there’s no sense of moral ambiguity whatsoever. You can immediately tell who is good and who is evil just by looking at the characters. I could just as easily make the argument that you could tell who the villains were just by looking at the poster. Nothing is left to your imagination, and that I feel is a serious problem, and is not conducive to good fantasy fiction.

To compensate for all that, the film sports some admittedly decent special effects, but worryingly enough, the film is almost all special effects, and so the CGI effectively becomes the producers’ way of overcompensating for a poorly written film that, if were very honest, was simply trying to copy the kind of success that The Lord of the Rings enjoyed years earlier. Of course, the visuals and the special effects are pretty much the only noteworthy thing about the film, and that’s because they’re the only thing the film has to show for itself aside from what I can guess is a bad transition from book to screen.

Clearly they should have put more thought and effort into this film, because if they had, this could have been somewhat better than all the other LoTR clones that had sprung up throughout the 2000’s. Instead, we have a film that is quite slavish in its copying of other fantasy films. Whatever potential the film could have had is ultimately snuffed out by its lack of originality and the laziness of its producers.

  • Score: 46%
  • Grade: D

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

NausicaaposterEver since I first heard of this film, I wanted to see it for myself, with exceedingly high expectations for a film that had such evocative potential. Now that I’ve had the good fortune of seeing it, I can say with confidence that didn’t disappoint in any way. In fact, I’d say this is one of my favourite films by Hayao Miyazaki, if not my all-time favourite, and there are several reasons why.

Right from the beginning, the film’s setting evokes the post-apocalyptic blend of sci-fi and fantasy previously explored in Ralph Bakshi’s classic film Wizards, and in some ways, the two are quite alike, but there is a significant thematic difference between the two. While Bakshi’s Wizards dealt with the divide between nature and technology, Miyazaki’s Nausicaa deals with environmental disaster, the value of life, and the futility of war. The story concerns mankind’s effort to survive in a world dominated by a vast, poisonous jungle swarming with giant insects, but rather than seeking to destroy the jungle, Nausicaa attempts to understand it, and help mankind to co-exist with it.

This is perhaps Miyazaki’s thought-provoking subversion of the usual fantasy narrative, where the aim is for the hero to destroy a great evil threatening the land, and this alternative approach is simply brilliant. It’s also worth noting that there’s no evil to speak of in this film. There are characters with questionable ethics, but no villains. The primary conflict of the film is motivated not by malice, but rather by fear, which begets paranoia, anguish, suffering, and resentment. By walking into the jungle with peaceful intentions and an open mind, Nauiscaa attempts to dispel the myths that fuel violence, hoping that peaceful understanding can heal her community. In a way, this reflects the age-old wisdom of dealing with other creatures – if we don’t attack them, they won’t attack us. The characters themselves are brilliant and engaging, each with their own defining traits, and in the English dub, boasting some terrific voice acting from a talented cast.

Miyazaki films typically excel in terms of visuals, but in that regard, this film easily surpasses the bulk of his work. From beginning to end, the film displays an innovative and compelling visual style that truly gives the sense of a strange world cursed by environmental disaster. The various environments, creature designs, and costume designs are some of the best I’ve seen in fantasy films, to the point that I kind of envy the artist who drew them all. The last jewel in the crown of the film is the ability to create an immersive atmosphere. The aforementioned visuals help, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the film’s music. The electronic compositions echo the style of the time it was made, and they fit the film’s tone very well. It also seems to remind me of the old Final Fantasy games, as do some of the costumes. With its compelling characters, brilliant fantasy world, and great narrative heft, this film endures as one of the greatest examples of high fantasy that the silver screen has to offer.

  • Score: 95%
  • Grade: S