As may be plain by this time, I have a large tender place inside full of fondness for movies of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy ilk. And though I am prone to enjoy them generally, I am also aware that they vary wildly in their quality. Plot and production value all contribute to the relative merit of any film, but the differences are especially marked in this particular mien.

Which is why perhaps, this movie stands out as such a fine example of the school. This film lacks for nothing; it is dramatic without being overwrought, well-paced and consistently amusing. The cinematography is deftly executed and beautiful. A score by Alan Parsons (SCORE BY ALAN PARSONS I SAID!) is joined with sets and costumes which provide great compliment to the storytelling, and the cast is simply superb.

We begin with Matthew Broderick even before his Ferris Beuller days. As Phillipe, his face is young and earnest and full of a remorseless glee in his own cleverness. He first becomes the only man ever to escape the dungeons  of Aquila, and then swept up by his own adroitness, proceeds to ramble straight home to boast of his exploits, never suspecting he might find trouble waiting for him there. Quite soon, the soldiers sent to kill him are well on their way to doing just that.

Rutger Hauer is at his inscrutable delicious best. He arrives just in time to save our hapless Phillipe. The very line of his jaw conveys his strength of character and just intentions. In this opening fight scene, he does not kill anyone by design: this is to alert you to the fact that he is a good guy. Wrapped in black and leather, he is no less than the epitome of a hero cast into darkness.

Michelle Pfeiffer is luminous. Her beauty is utter simplicity and breathtakingly devoid of glamor. The object of the desire of nearly every man in the film, she earns her place with a remarkable poise. She fairly glows, her innocence is so strongly conveyed. The grace of her form and features have done her no favors here, in that they have called upon her the attention of our villain, and all the sorrow thereafter.

John Wood is the delightfully terrible Bishop of Aquila. I mean really, who doesn’t love a man of God gone bad? In a rather bizarre take on “if I can’t have you, no one will” his grace made a pact with the devil to keep them from each other forever: By day the beautiful lady becomes a hawk, while at night our hero assumes the form of a wolf. They are with one another evermore, but may only meet in the brief moments of dawn and twilight.

Always together, eternally apart.

Who doesn’t like a little opposition with their romance?

In the end, our lovers are reunited in the very place the evil was done them, and rejoined in a rarest moment of perfect eclipse. If only every love story was that easy to resolve…