Fantasy Films 101


According to an article on Shacknews, Uwe Boll (director of the upcoming Dungeon Siege, and known for other video game movie adaptations) might become associated with one of the greatest blunders in cinematic history. An extra 5,500 reels of his latest film, BloodRayne, were distributed to theaters, a mistake that could cost someone $27 Million.

Ray Liotta has joined the cast of "Dungeon Siege," a sword-and-sorcery movie based on the million-selling PC game franchise. Liotta will play the film's villain, Gallian. The $60 million film, slated to run three hours, is currently filming in Vancouver and expected for a late-summer 2006 distribution.

All good things must come to an end. Whether you consider this column a good thing or not is up for grabs, but the other half of the statement is certainly true, whether you choose to believe it or not. Belief being a pretty important thing, as I'll demonstrate in an exploration of 1989's Erik the Viking, by Terry Jones.

It's the one you love, but won't admit you've seen. It stars a high-flying fighter pilot, a Pink Floyd groupie, a Benny Hill girl and one of the Ewoks. And it's the product of the man who is arguably the most popular sci-fi/fantasy film director of all time. This week: 1988's Willow.

Perhaps the single most quoted fantasy movie (after Monty Python and the Holy Grail, of course) is The Princess Bride. I personally first encountered the film in college in 1993, six years after its initial release, and ever since then I've faithfully watched it each and every time it's come on television. It's that good.

A gaggle of goblins and their king kidnap a bouncing babe from his silly sister, leaving the lass just thirteen thrilling hours to muddle through a maze known only as The Labyrinth, a favorite fantasy film from some of the finest in the business, and the subject of this week's column.

Collect the young star of Risky Business, the 18-year-girlfriend of Ferris Bueller, the hot new director of Alien and Blade Runner, add in an award-winning British actor and a host of diminutive veterans, and you've got yourself the most popular mess ever created--the legendary Legend.

Every role-playing game is a story within a story. You have your players, who control the actions of their characters, and then you have the characters themselves, some of whom can, properly developed, take on a life of their own. This is exactly what The Neverending Story is all about, which is why it's the subject of this week's look at fantasy films of the 1980s.

You either love it or hate it, but either way, if you were alive in the '80s you've heard of Krull. Despite being a critical flop in a year of critical flops (Return of the Jedi, anyone?), the movie spawned a video game and an arcade game, kick-started the career of James Horner and gave a lot of role-players plenty of ammunition for their games.

A barbarian warrior watches his village get wiped out by an evil horde. Years later, having gained strength, power and cunning through thievery and hard work, he returns to enact his vengeance. One basic plotline, two great movies, both classics in their own right. This week: Conan the Barbarian and The Beastmaster.

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