“Chill out, Lord Dude.”
Justin’s rating: Don’t forget your bird!
Justin’s review: While creating a Conan the Barbarian knock-off was totally understandable in the ’80s, Beastmaster’s writers felt like they had to up their game for the ’90s sequel. And what’s more ’90s than a time traveling fish-out-of-water tale?
Despite Dar and his amazing rebels winning the day in the first movie, by the time of the second, Dar’s long-lost brother and over-the-top motivational speaker Arklon has emerged as a magical despot in the country. Totally tired of romping around in a non-descript desert, Dar, his beastly entourage, Arklon, and Arklon’s pet witch Lyranna leap through a magical portal into a future alternate reality — that of our contemporary world. Arklon wants to get a neutron bomb (and hopefully an instruction manual to go with it), and Dar figures that wouldn’t be such a hot idea.
Both good and bad guys get tangled up with Jackie (a young Kari Wuhrer), a rich girl from L.A. who ends up being Dar’s guide to the present world. I love Jackie’s introduction: She’s speeding in a sports car, cops start to pursue her, so she laughs and goes faster like it’s all a hoot until she drives down a dead-end alley and through a magic portal into the fantasy world. You know, just another typical day for a valley girl.
Marc Singer looks a whole lot older, especially after seeing the first movie a day earlier, but he’s still got this affable charm that makes you like the guy. The movie tries to pair Dar and Jackie up romantically, but Wuhrer looks far too young to make this anything but slightly creepy. Then again, I know lots of people who wouldn’t mind a barbarian hunk to drag them off to his den. For the most part, however, Dar spends the movie confused about all of our world’s weirdness while Jackie explains what food and TV and radio is.
The final showdown takes place at the L.A. zoo, which for the Beastmaster is like Batman confronting his enemies in the Bat-Cave. Suffice to say, Dar wins and Arklon falls into one of those convenient fiery chasms that tend to open up in the city.
I mean, of course this is all really laughable, but it’s also irresistible. A sword-and-sorcery epic transplanted to our setting? With a guy in a loincloth who could theoretically make poodles attack at will? This is like catnip for the cult movie reviewer. Honestly, it’s the whole reason I watched this trilogy to begin with. I mean, if I have a choice between some generic barbarian epic or one where a time traveling He-Man gets into California culture with the aid of a shopping montage and some rock and roll, it’s not even a close contest.
A whole lot of people hate this movie, which I feel is unfair. Again, it’s better to be gonzo than generic in my book. Outlandish setups, groan-worthy one-liners, and enough bad acting to stock an entire reboot of the Police Academy series might not make for award-winning cinema, but it can captivate. Really, the one complaint that I had is that Dar doesn’t do enough beastmaster control in the present day, which made him a little too generic. It’s kind of his thing, you know.
- Apparently ancient religious priests had the power to damn people forever
- Surprise tiger ambush from above!
- Dar really loves jumping on top of people. It’s like his go-to move.
- Arrow through the throat — “I guess he got the point”
- One laser blast can make two boulders start rolling
- “Chill out, Lord Dude” is my new response to people getting uppity
- Chunky early ’90s car phones
- Ferrets are not rats. This shouldn’t have to be explained.
- So wait, why is his tiger normal color now? And how does Arklon have the same hand symbol?
- Dar charging the cops is hilarious
- The witch really wants to clothes shop
- Blowing clothes off of a mannequin is a good use of a magic laser
- Rock and roll reminds Dar of an earthquake
- Oh hey, Arklon can read minds now for some reason
- Arklon is so very mean to his witch friend. Like, meaner than he is to Dar.
- Arklon’s scars are kind of… not very bad. Don’t know why he wears that leaf.
- The doofy voiceover during the final fight