My first experience with this movie is an episode of The Critic by the same name. To be honest I had no idea it was a play on a movie but when I was looking at live-action fairy tale movies this one from 1985 crossed my path. From the start I was pumped, I wanted to like Ladyhawke. It was a fantasy movie from the 80’s, Fuck yeah, but then the credits with most cheesiest 80’s music you could ever imagined ended and this snooze-fest began.
Actually, the beginning with Matthew Broderick’s character, Philippe “The Mouse” Gaston was fine. Broderick plays this thief who is the only person to escape this place call Aquila, that is run by this dweeb Bishop, if he has a name I don’t care. No, where this movie gets bad and quite boring is when Philippe meets Captain Navarre a.k.a the plot. You see Navarre has this hawk and him and the hawk are cursed. The hawk is actually his lady love, Isabeau, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. Isabeau is cursed to be a hawk by day and Navarre turns into a wolf by night. They can only see each other in human form for a few fleeting moments.
Turns out the bishop cursed them with the powers of satan no less because he wanted Isabeau. Geeze a holy guy being obessed with a pretty lady, where have I heard that one before? Let me think…… oh yeah The Monk , that book sucked.
Not going to lie, I wasn’t playing that much attention but here is what I think happen. Navarre wants to kill the bishop even though that would mean they can’t break their curse. To break the curse they have to appear together in human form before the bishop. Navarre wants Philippe to sneak him into Aquila. Navarre is told by some monk guy that there is a day when there is no day and night or something, it’s an ellipse. Why couldn’t the monk guy just say that? Drama. Navarre goes to fight and tells the monk dude that if he hear church bells to kill Isabeau, which is stupid but in the end it all works out, they break the curse and I got to stop pretending to pay attention.
So why was this movie bad? Well much like some major criticism of Disney’s Hunchback this movie has no idea what it wants to be, it has no identify. Is it a darker fantasy? A light fantasy? A comedy? Some movies and TV shows has such great writing that they blended the genres into a balanced and cohesive story. Ladyhawke does not. And I will get this out of the way, the stereotypical 80s music does not even help one iota. If anything it just further confuses.
Then there is the acting, it sucks. The only characters I believe are the wolf and the hawk and the horses too. At least I believe that they were the animals they were. Otherwise the acting was either hammy or bland. If the tone had been more comedic, Broderick’s would have been fine but his dramatic parts were boarder on PAINFUL and the dude who played Navarre, one Rutger Hauer, I swear was channeling Charleston Heston the whole movie, which was weird.
Frankly the only character who has any personality was Broderick’s character and that is because practically all his lines told us what his character was like, no need for acting.
However some movies just like to say “fuck it, style over subtense,” so you might think this movie was all about the style. Well maybe that is true but I didn’t see anything that resembles style. The editing was weird, the costumes were boring, and most of the shots were too dark to really see anything. In fact I think this movie was the opposite, it was all about the subtense, that the love story was movie and tragic.
The love story might have been good if the characters were not so stupid or if they had personalities, maybe if their back story was a flashback instead of a monologue told to us by the monk dude. With a flashback we could have felt for Isabeau and Navarre more. Speaking of their curse, why fuck would the devil make THAT the curse the bishop would use. Turning a couple into animals at difference times of the day sounds more like mark of witch for pissing her off or something not the devil for a dude who wants a woman. Also we know an ellipse is like a loop-pole but are there other loop-poles? Like a serve overcast day? IS the curse really time specific to the sun? Would sunblock have helped? I don’t know this story seems better on paper than as a movie.
Ladyhawke is a boring and genre confused movie with little logic and no likable characters. Of all the 80’s fantasy movies this one is better left forgotten. Though it could be worse, it could be a shallow high school remake of Beauty of the Beast, wait that is the next movie isn’t it? Cries.Follow thehunchblog