Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Mythica: A Quest for Heroes (2015)

This is another release from Arrowstorm Entertainment, who made Survivor.  Like that film, it was partly financed through Kickstarter, and I was a backer.  As I always do with new indie films, I've prioritised viewing it so I can post a timely review.  In this case that practice also worked out for me, as the kickstarter for the sequel starts today and I wanted to see this to decide whether I would back it.  The answer to that, by the by, is "Yes, I will", which probably tells you that I enjoyed this film, if you hadn't worked that out already from the Qualified Recommendation tag.

Mythica had a much larger target than Survivor, and it is easy to see why.  The production is considerably more ambitious: a larger central cast, more effects shots, more crowd shots, and more complex sets.  The CGI monsters are a little obviously CGI (nice designs, but they have that 'not quite real' look to them), and the action sequences could do with a little tightening up, but I definitely got the sense that the money was up there on the screen.

Arrowstorm have a trilogy of Mythica films planned, and this first one introduces us to the characters and sends them on their first quest together.  Evil-doers (black clad, of course) leading orcs have attacked the temple of the Goddess.  Heroes are needed to seek out and free the captives who were taken.  Unfortunately, the world is short of heroes.  It has mercenaries aplenty, but they want rather more gold than is promised for completing the task.

The only ones willing to take on the task - for varying definitions of "willing" - are our heroes.  The most central of these is Marek, a runaway slave with a club foot, but a sharp mind.  She's picked up some magical skill from a local wizard.  The wizard is played by Kevin Sorbo in a very brief cameo: Arrowstorm made a fairly big deal of his involvement in the Kickstarter, and while it wasn't a factor in my deciding to back, it may have been for others.  I hope those folks weren't too disappointed by the brevity of this role (though maybe he returns in the second and third films).

Back to Marek.  In addition to the skills she has learned, she also demonstrates an inborn necromantic talent, very similar to that used by the villains.  Doubtless, this will be a Major Plot Point in the last part of the trilogy.

Joining Marek are Teela, the only Priestess to escape the attack on the temple; Thane, a world-weary but honourable warrior; and Dagen, a "charming" rogue.  Gamers reading this review are probably thinking "sounds like an archetypical D&D party", and I don't think that's an accident.  It's pretty clear that there were tabletop gamers involved in this, as the call-outs to role-playing games are obvious: heck, the script has a tavern where adventurers go to find quests.

A strong central cast really helps the film.  All four heroes are well-depicted.  While I didn't much like Dagen as a character, that was not through any fault in the actor's performance.  Probably the highlight for me was the way the attraction between Teela and Thane was portrayed.  Good work.

Script-wise, it's very much "villains want maguffin, heroes must save maguffin", though sensibly doesn't throw the heroes up against the real big bad.  I think it was smart to save him for later films and focus on his minions and hirelings this time around.

Mythica: A Quest for Heroes doesn't really break any new ground in the fantasy genre (though it is a much better D&D movie than the actual Dungeons & Dragons film), but it tells a solid enough story, and it even passes the Bechdel test in the process.  If you're looking for an adventure tale with a bit of humour, or just for an adventure tale with a female lead who's not dressed like a stripper, then you should check it out.

I'm looking forward to part 2.

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