Release Year: 1985
Running Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
A couple weeks ago I mentioned being excited to see Rutger Hauer appear in “The 10th Kingdom“. So, I thought I would bring up the movie where I know him best. “Ladyhawke” was one of my favorite films growing up. Watching it now, the special effects are rather aged, but the story still holds up well.
The plot goes thusly, after escaping the dungeons of a medieval city, Philipe Gaston (Matthew Broderick) reluctantly finds himself helping Captain Navarre (Hauer) break into the city to kill the corrupt Bishop. As they make their journey, Philipe discovers that Navarre and his lover, Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer), have been cursed. By day, Isabeau is forced to take the form of a hawk and by night Navarre transforms into a wolf. As they near the city, Philipe must decide if he will help the lady break the curse or help Navarre take his vengeance.
If you’re a fan of romantic fantasies, you will find something to enjoy here. This movie seriously fails the Bechdel test though. Isabeau is a quiet and mysterious character, who worked fine for me in the movie. However, if this had been a book her lack of agency would have driven me insane.
Navarre is a classic brooding hero who is single minded in his need to get revenge against the Bishop that cursed them. He’s essentially given-up all hope of ever breaking the curse, so is willing to settle for killing the Bishop.The rest of the characters are a little more optimistic that the curse can still be broken and do their best to alter Navarre’s course.
Broderick’s character is actually the one that tends to sway which way the story goes. He also works as the narrator and comic relief. With Isabeau and Navarre angst-ing all over the place, his antics and constant breaking of the fourth wall helped to keep the tone light.
One downside is that a few of the technical aspects of the film have not aged well. The special effects are a little hokey to watch now, but not too bad. Where the film really screams “I was made in the 80’s!” is with the soundtrack and sound effects. The upbeat music reminds me of something that should be playing while Rocky Balboa does one of his training montages, rather than be the score for a fantasy movie. There’s also the odd choice of doing a weird echo effect during the final battle every time Navarre’s sword hits something.
Despite some of the dated parts of the film, this is still a fun watch. I’d recommend “Ladyhawke” if you’re a fan of romantic fantasy or are in the mood to watch something that feels really 80’s.