Curse Of The Dragon Slayer (2014)

Perhaps no other genre of film has benefited from the advances in in computer graphics technology than the fantasy films genre. For most of film history the idea of film some of the epic high fantasy novels seemed like a pipe dream. For a while Ray Harryhausen (RIP) stop motion animation was able to satiate the publics need to see their fantasy dreams come to life. But as with everything, technology progresses, and expectations change, In the post-Star Wars world, Harryhausen-esque monsters were just not going to cut it. And while there certainly were some great practical effects makers redefining the industry, they simply could not translate their personal, rather intimate creations to a large scale with out it looking, well, fake.

So, fantasy film makers turned first towards animation, then to it's hybrid cousin, computer graphics. For a while what the public was subjected to looked more like a video game shot against a green screen. Then came Peter Jackson, his WETA workshop and The Lord of the Rings...and the game changed. No longer, unless you worked at the Asylum, could the effects in your films look like they were put together on a Commodore 64. And while Jacksons films pushed the envelope in theaters, similar innovations were taking place on the small screen, albeit on a smaller and cheaper level.

Which brings us to Curse Of The Dragon Slayer, a project written by Jason Faller and Kynan Griffin and directed by John Lyde that was originally developed as a television project. Which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it looks pretty good for a fantasy based television show. A curse because it feels like you are watching a televisions show. Director Lyde throws in some Jackson-seque "Ohhh! Look at the scenery" helicopter shots. But the rest of the film looks like it was shot in and around someones backyard. Whick is okay for a television show, but not okay, and pretty distracting, for an epic fantasy film.

The other thing that seems like it is a direct result of the project originally being developed for television is the fact that the narrative seems rather jumbled. I cannot imagine what someone who is not a fan of fantasy would be thinking during the first 20 minutes of the film. The story is sparse, something a television show can afford, because it has time to develop a mythology over several episodes. However the first 20 minutes of Curse Of The Dragon Slayer contains a video game like level of one on one fighting, with little to no back story. Again on a television show, this is okay, in this film it feels like we are watching a live action Baldurs Gate. Now I love Baldurs Gate, but I want to play...not watch.

Nemyt (Danielle Chuchran) is a bounty hunter elf who has tracked an orc shaman riding a dragon into the desert. She kills it, and the dragon, but not before it curses her. The curse isn't really an issue until she tries to collect the bounty on the orcs head. Thrown in prison she attracts the attention of Keltus the Wanderer who promises Nemyt that his priestess can cleanse her of the curse. Along the way they meet Kullimon the Black, who despite his surname is really a good orc. They decide to reluctantly band together to fight the (not so secret) Shadow Cabal. Oh and Kullimon sings. Let's just leave it at that.

If it seems like this film is nothing but a shit show, be assured that it certainly is not. It's middling to above average fantasy fare. It's certainly better than those terrible Uwe Boll In The Name of The King films. The film, when it stays out of the woods behind the directors house, is pleasing to the eyes. The effects to the lead actresses eyes are pretty cool and consistently well done. AS are most of the other special and practical effects in the film. Richard McWilliams (Keltus) and Paul D. Hunt (Kullimon) have a certain charming chemistry - think Dar and Seth in the Beast Master.

Curse of the Dragon Slayer seems to have had at least fifty or sixty different titles over it's production and release. You can look for it under SAGA: Curse Of The Shadow, SAGA: The Shadow Cabal, and Dragon Lore: Curse of the Shadow. If you are a fan of decent fantasy films that harken back to television shows like 'Legend of The Seeker' and 'Beast Master: The Series', then you might really enjoy Curse Of The Dragon Slayer.

You can pick up the DVD, via Phase 4 Films this May.

** and 1/2 stars out of *****

As always, thanks for reading and "Enjoy every sandwich."

1 comment:

  1. Interesting assessment I too thought of Beastmaster while the movie isnt perfect its better than average in many ways and falls short in others. Getting past those 20 minutes is crucial don't quit to soon, enjoyable entertainment