Runtime: 89 minutes
Director: Pearry Teo
Starring: Luke Goss, Ed Speleers, Andrew Pleavin
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Final Score: 6.5/10
Erik, warrior of Draeganoth, is sent by his dying king to retrieve Prince Malachy, heir to the throne, who’s been on an extended tour of the continent for years. Accompanied by Erik’s brother Jason, they return home only to find the king dead and the kingdom desolate. A mysterious stranger appears with a book naming Witchcraft as the cause, with clues as to how to defeat the evil ones. The stranger leads the new king and his men on a journey to find the Witches’ hiding place, beginning a voyage packed with battle, betrayal, witchcraft and revelation.
The idea behind the film is good. Killing the villain who cursed the land to save it is a perfect fantasy quest. And for the most part the story moves along in the right direction. But there are a few points that don’t work. These are due to a character who isn’t fully developed who does things that feel wrong for that character. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but you wonder what would have happened if those scenes didn’t.
A few of the characters are great. They get scenes where they show their motivations for what they do and we feel for them by the end. Other characters don’t have enough scenes for us to get to know them. One group of characters have one scene to convince us why they do what they do, then almost never speak again. One of the lead characters is not developed until the end of the movie and it feels forced.
We never actually see the romance, we’re just told that it’s there. The two people who are supposed to like each other barely communicate in the film and it is mostly one sided. Jozefa does a lot of things because we are told she likes one of the other characters. She never talks to that person except to be convinced by him to move the story along. Luckily, it isn’t really shown beyond that, and stays away from trying to be sappy.
Fantasy movies tend to have cheesy lines. But this film stayed away from them. Epic speeches, diabolical ranting, and convincing pleas are what the dialogue focuses on. There are no comedic lines. They don’t try to force a character to be the comedian. It all stays focused on the story.
If it wasn’t for the modern style of filming, the fights scenes would have been amazing. Instead we get quick cuts and close shots. What we can see is great. The fights are fast, intricate, and exciting. But while they are good, most of the sword fights are against allies. The enemy in the film does not use physical weapons. This is where the action fails. The siege at the end is hilarious. When the enemy enters the castle without opposition, and is greeted by pheasants with pitchforks that for some reason are on the walls and not the ground, it’s hard not to cringe. The armies of the two sides are passed over in favor of focusing on the main characters. After the speech the king gave, it’s a disappointment.
The music was great throughout the film. Some of it was very haunting and made the villain feel menacing.
The sets are a mixed bag. Most of the actual sets are amazing in their construction and design. Others look great, but the designs don’t work. The king’s castle and city looks majestic from a distance, but looks like a village when we are inside the walls. Some of the scenes that show the desolation of the witches looked strange. The special effects worked against the design in those shots.
The costumes may be the best thing about the movie. Some people may think they’re over the top, but the designs are just awesome. Large shoulder pads, skulls everywhere, it’s like Warcraft came to the real world. All the characters have unique looks and the outfits are practical in addition to being cool.
All special effects are essentially just magic. Witches are throwing magic around throughout the film. It’s not all bad, but certain effects look better than others. They went with highly colorful magic, and it just requires more effects. Nothing stands out of the film that would break immersion.
The costumes and the dialogue set the tone from the get go. Fantasy at the extreme. It’s just pure fun with some good characters.