Ladyhawke (1985)

Ladyhawke (1985)

When Philippe Gaston (Matthew Broderick) escapes the prisons of Aquila, he becomes the first prisoner to do so, causing a large manhunt. After he is aided in his escape from his pursuers by Captain Navarre (Rutger Hauer), he finds that Navarre is also being pursued by the jealous Bishop of Aquila, having been cursed by the Bishop to be a wolf by night, while his companion, Lady Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer), is similarly cursed to be a hawk by day.

There seems to be nothing more typifying of the 1980s than mashing up various genres of films with fantasy, so to have Ladyhawke presented as a Gothic Adventure Comedy Fantasy seems straight to-the-book for the decade that brought us the likes of Conan the Barbarian and Labyrinth.

To hammer the era of the film's creation home, the film is stuffed full of synth-electronica that has aged very poorly. Despite being nominated for two Academy Awards for its sound and sound effects, it can make getting beyond the first act difficult. Broderick's quips often go beyond the film's storyline, but stop just short of breaking the fourth wall (as in Ferris Bueller's Day Off), making it exhausting to work out what the film is trying to accomplish.

However, once the stoic Navarre and the opulent Isabeau are introduced (both of whom are cast superbly), the film takes on a completely different look, and one that is all the more enhanced by viewing it through Gaston's eyes. As the two romantics flit between their human and animal forms, the true tragedy of their predicament is laid bare and suddenly the quirky humour feels more inclusive, dragging the audience along on the adventure.

It's kooky and clearly not everyone's cup of tea and yet, for some, it is their favourite romance movie. Can both be right? Of course. But there's one thing for certain; Ladyhawke is certainly in the running for best gothic adventure comedy fantasy of all time.

3 stars