Runtime: 103 minutes
Director: Brock Morse
Starring: Blake Stadel, Rob Simonsen, John Rankin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Final Score: 6.5/10
Set in a fictitious medieval world, this odyssey of one man’s personal redemption is an entertaining and thought-provoking tale rife with swordplay, humor, intrigue and fantasy. Veteran stage actor Blake Stadel stars in the title role of Asbrey of Westender, a once legendary knight who has mysteriously fallen from grace.
This movie is not for everyone. It is not a fast-paced action fantasy. There are long periods where it feels like nothing is happening and are just scenes of people walking. Some of the storylines felt incomplete and just disappear, while the main storyline is never fully explained. This is due to the hero being alone for a good part of the movie with no one to interact with. When the characters do get together it’s great, and the dialogue is smooth, if simple.
There is not a lot to say about the characters. We don’t see any other character besides the main character for any length of time. The second longest screen time belongs to the bard Glim. But even he doesn’t get much development within that period. Other characters enter and leave with very little thought except how they affect the main character and his quest. That leaves us with Asbrey, whose story develops in a mostly believable way; there are times when it’s hard to believe he’d make it. While not the most competent fighter, his struggles makes him feel human and relatable.
The action can be divided into two different parts. First are the smaller fights that take place in the present time. They’re between small groups of fighters and usually don’t last long. The second is a flashback to a larger battle between two armies. These fights are spread throughout the movie but are done well enough that it gives the movie some life when they are shown. This could have been a problem since much of the movie is slower in pace and the action stands out quite a bit. If it had been terrible the movie wouldn’t work at all.
Westender is only a fantasy movie because it’s not set on earth. There is not a lot of magic evident in the world, and when it is, it’s not obvious. Some creepy ghost looking things, a wolf…guide(?), and a strange hermit’s cottage is the most “magic” we get. This means that the special effects are not a big part in the movie. Asbrey does gets punched in the face a bunch and the makeup effects are good for that bit.
Since most of the movie takes place in the forest, the landscapes are what sets the tone for the movie. Buildings do not show up often, and when they do we just see the interiors, not the outside. But what we are shown looks nice and fits with the rest of the movie. Costumes are great as well except for one scene. When an army is shown returning home, some of the costumes look cheap. It’s not bad and doesn’t ruin the movie, but compared to the rest of the costumes, they’re just a step down.