There seems to be two widely different opinions of this film. On the one hand, it’s a dour attempt at telling a story that’s less about slaying dragons and more about a “paladins” (in the D&D sense, not one of the twelve peers of Charlemagne’s Court) in Ireland with passable CGI effects. On the other hand it’s a surprisingly nuanced fantasy tale that stands out in a cesspool of barely scripted monster-of-the-week drek. The answer is somewhere in between those two extremes.
“Dawn of the Dragonslayer” is the story of paladin-to-be Will (Richard McWilliams), a shepherd’s son out for revenge against the dragon that killed his father and destroyed his livelihood. He approaches Baron Sterling (Ian Cullen) to learn the ways of a knight and make his way in the world. After suffering repeated rejection and abuse by Sterling and his servants, Will eventually becomes part of his retinue. He can’t help but notice Sterling’s attractive daughter Kate (Nicola Posener), a relationship complicated by the arrival of nobleman Rogan (Philip Brodie) who requests her hand in marriage. Then the dragon shows up again and everyone is out for the gold a dragon’s egg will bring the barony.
At heart this is a romance film, which will disappoint monster buffs looking for a lot of dragon action. It’s a fantasy film too, but the plot is more grounded in the mundanity of medieval living than your typical dungeonpunk sword-and-sorcery flick. This amounts to the relatively small cast talking to each other a lot — it seems there’s only ten people in total in all of Ireland.
Taken as a fantasy romance, “Dawn of the Dragonslayer” is surprisingly good. The film’s name was changed from “Paladin,” which may be appropriate given that “paladinhood” means that Will is resistant to fire and that’s about it.
Although “Dawn of the Dragonslayer” is no “Dragonslayer,” it’s distinct enough to warrant a viewing by fantasy fans. Just expect to see more of the gorgeous Ireland scenery than the dragon.
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