The Beastmaster Reviews
Again, Thank You TBS!
This was one of many Conan the Barbarian imitators and probably one of the better known ones. Re-watching it tonight wasn't torture and I enjoyed it but this is not a good movie.
The ultimate flaw in The Beastmaster is that it is way too tame. The sword and sorcery genre can be fun if it implements the right elements which usually mean a good set design, strong action scenes and perhaps some nudity along the way. With The Beastmaster, some of the visual elements of the film are good but it defies the genre by failing to have enough swords or sorcery to it.
The Beastmaster is a thoroughly slow film which takes two hours and has little to no gimmicks along the way which justify its existence. While the scenery of the film is nice, the production design is decent and the costumes are good all on a low budget, they should have been saved for a better film because The Beastmaster does not know what to do with them. The low budget visual flair of The Beastmaster does not cover up its weak story and inane directorial work from Don Coscarelli. The musical score of the film is nice because it is atmospheric, and so is the cinematography because it captures the same mood from a visual perspective. But that does not hide the fact that the film is poorly written and uncreative. While it should maintain a lot of cheap fantasy fun, the story in The Beastmaster is one which is all too common to the genre and falters by comparison to countless superior films, even if the production values of this one seem higher based on a small but reasonable budget.
There is not nearly enough action in The Beastmaster which ensures that it is a thoroughly tame piece which gets too caught up in telling its story to work as the dumb fun that viewers would be hoping for. Considering that there is no action until past the first hour in the film, that establishes the fact that the film wastes half its time on telling a generic story with weak direction. The tale in The Beastmaster doesn't matter because the audiences of these films tend to be young boys looking for cheap action thrills. To take the action out of the equation takes the sword out of the genre which leaves only sorcery. Yet with a generic story lacking in any magic or the presence of any real mythological creatures, the sorcery is absent. The Beastmaster is left as a sword and sorcery film without swords and sorcery, so what does that tell you? Hopefully it should tell you to stick with films from the Deathstalker series when in search of cheap 80's thrills.
For a film that runs for nearly two hours, the lack of action in The Beastmaster really drags it down. When the action of the film finally does show up, the damage is already done. Even then it ends up spread out at a sporadic rate for the rest of the film which means that it takes up the most minimal quantity of time in the film which is just wasteful. The one thing I hate most in a film about adventuring with a sword is to have it be so little in quantity of action. But to make things even worse, the quality is weak. The action scenes in The Beastmaster are ridiculously tame. They show the actors performing dull moves at an overly slow pace to the extent that they seem improvised. The action in the film is as slow and tame as the rest of the film. For a film to have such little action and then have its existing action scenes be so weak in quality is just adding insult to injury. If you're looking for a battle between swordsmen and sorcerers, The Beastmaster is not a film to be looking at even if the title suggests that it might have an interesting idea to it. The title just means that its hero can talk to animals, and that mostly consists of him conversing with ferrets anyway who can hardly be considered beasts. It is just not a fun film, and that is poor form.
There is some sense of value that the cast bring to the film, even if it is minimal.
Marc Singer is a decent lead. While his acting is not precisely on par, he doesn't have much of a character in the first place and so it hardly matters. He isn't the best action hero, but he grasps his sword confidently. But the most interesting thing about him is the fact that he looks like a muscular Kevin Bacon. That's a name that we would all be familiar with for one reason or another, and seeing someone who looks a lot like him parade around with a muscular physique in loincloth and talking to animals manages to incite some unintentional laughs in The Beastmaster.
Even though The Beastmaster features appearances from popular sitcom actor John Amos and Academy Award nominee Rip Torn, it really does not know what to do with them and ends up wasting their time. While Rip Torn has nothing to do, John Amos has little to say but instead just struts around dressed in clothing so awkwardly revealing that it is hilarious. The simple fact that it is him in the role is entertaining from a visual and pop culture perspective because of how strange it is to see the man who once played James Evans. Sr on the sitcom good times decked out in cheap clothing in a fantasy B-movie. So like Marc Singer, his general appearance in the film is genial in a way.
So while The Beastmaster looks good and is shot well against the backdrop of a nice musical score, it is way too short on its already middling action scenes to be considered a sword and sorcery film or to be stretched to a running time of 118 minutes with such a thin story to boot.