Monday, 4 July 2016

Mythica: The Iron Crown (2016)

I'm going to make a number of complaints in the course of this review, so I figured I should preface my remarks by pointing out that there is a qualified recommendation tag on the review.  So there will be positives eventually!

So as you've no doubt gathered from the first paragraph, this is not a flawless film.  In fact, it has a number of issues.  Many are relatively minor, but there are two fairly major ones.  So let's start with them.

First and foremost, this is the fourth film of a five part series and it really feels like an episode in a series, rather than a complete film.  In general, the other Mythica films have done a pretty good job of telling a story that felt complete and whole in and of themselves, even while being a part of a larger arc.  This one doesn't achieve that.  Now you can make a movie that's clearly the middle of a bigger story and still have it be good - you could argue that the best Star Wars movie does just that - but after three films that managed to be more than that, it feels like a step backwards to see it here.

The other key issue for me is that film has a pacing problem.  It's basically one long combination chase and fight scene.  Now again, this is something that could work (Mad Max: Fury Road, anyone?), but it's a tough task to give plot points enough time to sink in when you're throwing a new stunt sequence at us every three or four minutes.  The Iron Crown doesn't quite manage that balancing act, which means that dramatic moments lose some of their impact and that there are times when there is a real sense of tonal whiplash, as we often go rapidly from something grim to a fight scene with banter, or vice versa.

Other issues?  There's a major steampunk element to the film which was entirely absent from any of the previous three movies; not a major thing but still a bit of a cognitive glitch.  Also, the fight choreography feels a notch or two below the (admittedly high) standards of the earlier films, which sometimes hurts the excitement levels.  Finally, there's a predatory lesbian villain.  Sigh.

Still with me?  I hope so, since I did promise that there were positives.  The big one is for all the missteps it does make, the film lands its central character arc pretty solidly.  Marek - the series' main protagonist - enters the film as the disciple of her wise mentor, and leaves it having stepped up as a leader in the final, last ditch effort to defeat the seemingly unstoppable Lich King.  For all that this film was clearly mostly about setting up the final movie in the series, it does a good job of making you want to see Marek get her big moment, next time.

Of course, some of the kudos for that success should go to Melanie Stone, who has done a fine job as Marek throughout the series.  In fact, kudos should go to all the main trio of actors, as they consistently do good work here.  An honorable mention also for Paris Warner, who has is a lot of fun in her role as a new minor character.

As this is the fourth film in a series I think it likely that most of the people who are likely to watch it are in for the whole arc.  If you are one of those people, this is worth your time, and gives me hope that we're going to get a rousing conclusion next time around.

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