I have embarked on a quest to watch a number of 80s Fantasy flicks and share my findings with you, dear readers. Today, we reflect on “The Last Unicorn.” One of the only animated films on the list, I was pretty excited about this one because 80s and Unicorns pretty much are synonymous in some weird sense to me. Anyway, here goes! There will be SPOILERS in what follows.
First off, can we all just agree that Prince Lir is the original brony?
Anyway, “The Last Unicorn” has some undeniable charm that just wriggles its way into you as you’re watching, despite it being absolutely terrifyingly strange. The plot itself is a neat fairy tale: a unicorn discovers she’s the last one in all the land and looks to find out if that is actually true. After being rescued from imprisonment by Schmendrick, an aspiring wizard, she discovers that she must track down the Red Bull, which has apparently chased all the unicorns into the sea for the pleasure of King Haggard. Ultimately, with the help of a pirate cat, Molly, and Prince Lir, the unicorn manages to fight back against the Red Bull and cast it into the sea, releasing all the other unicorns and tumbling King Haggard’s tower to the ground.
At times, the story is genuinely disturbing, at other times it is lighthearted. King Haggard, for example, is extremely disturbed. He once saw a unicorn and it made him happy. So what does he decide to do? Use the Red Bull to gather them all and throw them into the ocean so they will be trapped there forever, such that whenever the wave rolls in he can see them and delight in their misery. I’m not making this up. On the flip side, it’s hard not to take some joy in there being unicorns, a talking pirate cat, and other fun characters to uplift the heart from the genuine darkness of the main plot.
It’s very much like a fairy tale, but that brings its own pitfalls along with it, such as the complete lack of explanation or background to many key plot points (like the Red Bull). Moreover, there is an awful lot of 80s weirdness here. A busty elderly woman/tree attempts to smother Schmendrick after a failed attempt to use magic, for example. Awkward! Another example: the butterfly near the beginning of the movie randomly calls the unicorn “Mary Jane.” It’s the 80s folks.
The soundtrack by AMERICA, in my opinion, leaves something to be desired. It is also a huge part of the movie, as characters just burst into song at random. The theme song is kinda catchy but I’m just not sold on the breathiness of the lyrics or the strange folksy style. Just not my cup of tea.
Despite these criticisms, there is something that just captures you and draws you in as a viewer in this movie. It’s got that haunting sense of loss to it that the best fairy tales have,. Even though it ends happily, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss and even foreboding about it. I have a feeling this one’s going to stick with me a while.
The amount you enjoy this movie will depend on how much of the weirdness you can swallow. I enjoyed it well enough, but I don’t think I’ll watch it again.
+Pretty animation with some anime style
+Super creepy bad guy
+Catchy theme song even if it’s not the greatest
-Weird moments abound
-Music is REALLY 80s/breathy
-Plot elements largely unexplained
My Score: C+ “Super weird but still has some undeniable allure.”
Guest Verdict (My wife, Beth): B+ “It was a charming and enjoyable unicorn story.”
“The Last Unicorn” isn’t a terrible movie. In fact, I think it’s kind of good… it just really wasn’t my cup of tea.
The Movie poster is not my property and I use it under fair use.
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Time to Watch some 80s Fantasy Flicks– I describe my quest to watch a bunch of 80s fantasy movies. This post also features links to all the reviews done so far.
A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy that would please Crom Himself– The original list of movies that made me embark on this quest.