Thursday, 23 April 2015

Rise of the Shadow Warrior (2013)

This is one of those movies that I enjoyed, but which I think has a narrow enough spectrum of appeal that I can't really give it a recommendation.  So I'll begin with an important disclaimer.  If you're the kind of person who enjoys travelogue fantasy tales - you know, where a Mismatched Band of Adventurers roam from Ominously Named Landmark to Ominously Named Landmark in an attempt to Thwart An Ancient Evil - then you should upgrade this to a Qualified Recommendation at the very least.  It's got a decent script, a strong cast (especially for the low budget end of the cinematic spectrum), and solid special effects.  For someone who grew up in a time when ... well when drek like Sorceress was typical of a fantasy movie -

- this film (which has a couple of alternate titles, all of which seem to include the word Shadow) is pretty exciting.  It's not just much more competently made, it's also devoid of the tawdry titillation factor that tended to mar 80s fantasy, and you get the feeling the people who produced it really cared about the project.

This is not to say that it's a flawless film.  For one thing, the introduction of the three main characters are all a bit too similar in structure, which is particularly noticeable as they're done back to back.  For a second, part of the reason that an air of enthusiasm comes through in the film is the scenes that probably should have been cut, but that you get the sense the producers just couldn't bear to let go.  Then there are the moments where the script's clearly aiming to re-create certain iconic scenes of fantasy literature.  Finally, I have issues with the way it tends to undercut the main female character: it seems like every time she gets a moment to shine, the script pulls the rug out from under her.

On the whole though, I found more to like than to dislike.  The decision to make the heroes an elf, human and orc is a nice change from the staple fantasy trio of elf, human and dwarf (in fact, the only dwarf in the film is an irascible villain), and the actors playing them give them each a distinctive presence on screen.  While the prospective audience for a film like this is I think generally pretty narrow*, if you are  in that audience, you should check it out.

* unlike say the same company's Mythica: A Quest for Heroes, which I reviewed about a month ago: that's much more focused on developing the characters than this was, which I think broadens its appeal.

No comments:

Post a Comment