Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dawn of the Dragonslayer 2

I don't know who is designing the DVD covers for this series, but they really need to stop.
Doesn't exactly scream "Quality entertainment".
That two-headed dragon not only looks terribly rendered, but it doesn't even appear in the movie. Instead they re-use the design from the first movie.
Speaking of which, the first movie turned out to be much better than the cover led us to believe. Considering the cover for this film is even worse than the original, can this movie follow it's predecessor and deliver something enjoyable?
Well, let's begin the review and find out.
The movie begins with some backstory about the country of Derrin, which was invaded and conquered by the Vitalian Empire, who had a dragon.
"We have an army."
"We have a dragon."
"Well feck".
Once again the dragon burns the human until he turns into the title card, which says 'dawn of the Dragonslayer 2: Enter the Dragonslayer'.
Which just makes me sad that we will never see Bruce Lee had fight a dragon.
The original title was apparently 'The Dragon and the Crown: The Paladin Cycle'.
So it turns out that they're no better at naming movies than they are at designing DVD covers.
Anyway, after the soldier gets toasted we skip to the present (Well, when the story the set. It's not clear exactly when this was meant to take place) and a noblewoman is overhearing a man talking to her aunt. They want Derrin's true king to be crowned so they can rally the people behind him but to do it the aunt must get a relic to him and quickly.
Only two minutes in and we've overheard the entire plot.
We cut to a man named Corvus, who will be serving as our main villain for this movie.
This guy.
He's a Derrin who was away during the war and upon his return he decided to side with the Empire. He's got a prisoner who has some important information which he needs. He just calmly sits down and describes the Empire's torturers.
But Corvus prefers to use a truth poison, since it's relatively painless.
Although side effects may include death within an hour.
The aunt and the noblewoman (Named Elenn) gather their things and leave on a horse and cart. Along the road they encounter some Vitalian soldiers escorting a couple of criminals to prison.
they could only send two soldiers due to cutbacks.
Despite the two dangerous criminals under their watch, the soldiers decide to harass the women and inspect the cart and everything on it. Since they're carrying the relic and they can't allow it to be discovered the aunt uses magic to make the horse bolt. The criminals take it as their chance to escape and they fight the remaining soldier, but his crossbow goes off.
Well that was unfortunate.
They manage to kill the soldiers but they have to flee into the woods when they hear the sounds of another patrol.
Elsewhere Corvus is trying to persuade the Vitalian governor to request more soldiers to track down Garrick. The governor turns out to be a massive sockwomble and he refuses, reasoning that as long as they have the dragon they need not fear Garrick. Corvus points out that that would get a lot of innocent Derrin killed but the governor plainly states that he doesn't care.
Yeah, compared to this guy Corvus is the reasonable villain.
Back with Elenn again, who's setting her pet bird free when one of the criminals (Named Leaf) attempts to rape her.
This movie's picking up bad guys left and right.
Luckily the other criminal comes to her rescue by holding a knife to the Leaf's throat.
"Make like your name and get the feck out of here!"
After Leaf has left the remaining criminal introduces himself as Aiden. He originally plans to abandon Elenn in the woods, but she talks him around by promising him some land. While he does doubt her she gives him her ring as a deposit and he agrees to escort her South.
Back with Corvus, who has decided to call in some help from his pet raven.
And some bad CGI.
The ravens converge in one spot and turn into a humanoid assassin.
The writers were clearly playing too much Assassin's Creed.
Corvus instructs Raven (That's what I'm calling him from now on) to find the relic and kill the people who carry it.
Speaking of which, Aiden and Elenn are having fun trying to cross a muddy stream.
Well, Aiden's having fun at least.
After a lot of walking they get attacked by Raven. Aiden valiantly fights back, but every time he swings his sword Raven dissipates and reforms, which makes fighting him rather difficult. But luckily Elenn throws a net over him which slows him down enough for them to start running.
A net. The badass raven assassin got beaten by a net?
Raven turns back into ravens in order to give chase and the heroes run until they reach a cliff. Aiden stops but Elenn just dives right in. faced with the choice of fighting raven or diving in after her, Aiden jumps off.
And is it just me, or does this cliff look familiar?
Say hi to Sir Rogen for me.
As Elenn swims about underwater she gets attacked by some women in white robes, but they stop once Aiden grabs her and pulls her to the surface.
Why yes, an explanation would be nice. Shame we aren't going to get one.
Raven stands on a nearby rock waiting for them to surface (Apparently he can't swim) but he flees once the white women start screaming.
After dragging her out of the water Aiden and Elenn spend the night in a cave which he used to use for smuggling, meaning that it not only has supplies for a fire but also copious amounts of alcohol, which Elenn uses to get drunk.
And then she hits on Aiden.
Being a gentleman, he refuses. Being a man, he does get a good look at her arse.
And I do not blame him.
The next morning they move through dragon territory and watch as it soars overhead. While they do avoid it, they manage to get caught up in some traps.
I just love Aiden's reaction in this scene.
Some people throw some bags over their heads and when they're removed, we're introduced to their captor.
This guy.
This scene takes a while, but once it's over it's over and nothing much really comes of it. To summarrise, that guy's an old enemy/friend of Aiden's. They have a party, he endangers Aiden's life in an act of petty revenge and Elenn sneaks out with the relic.
But the entire scene serves no purpose other than as a mild distraction.
Oh, and there was some romance too.
After almost ten minutes of this nonsense they escape and reach their destination.
At least this time the castle's mostly intact.
Cut back to Corvus, who's hired a mercenary to track down Aiden.
And he's an ugly one no less.
While that piece of bad news rears his head again, Elenn talks to the sisters at the castle. They explain that with her aunt dead she'll have to perform the coronation. Elenn remarks that she's unversed and the sisters decide to verse her.
Apparently, this requires a bath.
Longest scene in the movie.
For some reason the sisters leave the door open and Aiden walks past. They share a longing look at each other before one of them closes the door.
No-one gets angry about him watching her.
Anyway, that night the sisters stand in a small stone circle and chant, since they expect the paladin to arrive that night in accordance with some old prophecy. Because there's always an old prophecy. They don't make new prophecies.
Well they hadn't invented Bingo yet, what else are old women going to do on Thursday evenings?
There are some more romantic moments between Elenn and Aiden, including them being walked in on just as they were about to get dirty.
Sock blocked by a nun. We've all been there.
As the sisters continue their ritual, Elenn reads from the old book detailing the prophecy. It also explains about Paladins and dragons. But as she does, she starts getting visions about the dragon, the relic (Which I should have mentioned is a horn) and the white water women.
Elenn walks out to watch the sisters ritual but collapses. As she does so, a man enters the castle.
Did the prophecy mention him waving a sword at us?
The man starts slaughtering the sisters and it's revealed that it's Leaf. Corvus and Raven arrive too, but they're overshadowed by the dragon.
To be fair, this guy overshadows most things.
Corvus orders Raven to bring Elenn to him, but he specifies that he wants her unharmed.
The chief sister tells Aiden to get Elenn to a hermit who can help her through 'The Glittering', which apparently is something she has to go through to become the Paladin. I don't remember Will having to go through any 'Glittering' in the last movie, unless he did it off-screen.
So they escape through the tunnels beneath the castle, but Raven follows them.
And when he catches up Aiden fights him. he loses his sword but he manages to win by throwing a candle at him.
Meaning Aiden invented the world's first Molotov Cocktail.
Raven burns to death and the heroes flee. They use the heavy fog to avoid the dragon as they make their way towards the hermit but when they get there he tells them, in no uncertain terms, precisely where to go.
For politeness sake I won't repeat what he said.
Since Elenn has fallen unconscious Aiden picks her up and kicks the door in. He explains what's going on to the hermit, who reluctantly agrees to help them. He sends Aiden out to get some berries, before stripping her and painting markings over he body.
The hermit didn't actually need to do this, it's just be ages since he had company.
If this had been a standalone movie I wouldn't have questioned this 'Glittering' process but this is very specifically a sequel/prequel to the other movie and Will didn't have to go through any of this, he just had to believe that he could walk through fire and he was able to.
I think this is female nudity for the sake of female nudity.
Which I'm not against in concept, I just don't think it adds anything to the movie.
But as Aiden searches for the berries he is accosted by Leaf and they have a pretty decent fight scene.
Which ends with Leaf running Aiden through with his sword.
Wait, what?
Not exactly how I expected this to go.
But since Leaf is a horrible person (Big surprise there) he decides to watch Aiden die slowly, which gives Aiden time to grab a dagger and stab Leaf, killing him outright.
"'Tis but a flesh wound."
Aiden removes the sword, revealing that it didn't go through the centre of his stomach but more through one of his kidneys. While most men would still fall from it he's the main character so he gets up and rushes back to the hermit, but Elenn has been taken by Corvus and the hermit's mostly dead.
But there's a whole lot of difference between mostly dead and all dead.
The hermit tells Aiden where Corvus took Elenn, but Aiden is too injured and collapses.
meanwhile, Elenn wakes up from the Glittering perfectly healthy, even though she never got the berries.
So the whole 'Glittering' subplot was entirely pointless.
Elenn finds herself locked in the room, but a dress has been laid out for her, which she changes into. Then she does her makeup.
Well she can't be a strong, independent woman until her makeup's perfect.
Corvus enters and tells her his backstory, which includes finding the other half of the relic. He explains that he's been trying to make it whole so that the dragon can be slain and the Empire driven out of Derrin.
Yeah, turns out that Corvus was a good guy all along. Go figure.
As Corvus tries to persuade Elenn to work with him to restore the relic, the governor enters. Corvus hides his piece behind his back and asks what's going on. The governor explains that since she's the last person who can crown Garrick they're going to execute her for treason.
Turns out this guy was the true bad guy all along.
Corvus tries to persuade the governor not to execute her but once again the governor is a massive douche and refuses. Corvus brings up the right of trial by combat, an ancient Derrin custom, but the governor also refuses, stating that they don't follow Derrin laws anymore, they follow Vitalian ones. So Corvus counters by pointing out that Derrin's terms of surrender also included the Empire respecting some of their laws, including the trial by combat. Which means that it's both Derrin and Vitalian law.
So yeah, now we're rooting for this guy.
The governor secedes the point, but he selects Corvus himself as the champion for the Empire. Meaning that if Corvus wins, Elenn gets executed, but if Corvus dies, she lives.
What a douche.
He gives three days for a champion to arrive on her behalf. So as long as Aiden is able to get to her in time, he can still rescue her.
Speaking of Aiden, where is he?
He's just hanging around somewhere.
Turns out that Aiden got found by his frenemy from earlier, meaning that the earlier sequence wasn't quite pointless. They heal him up and tell him the news about Elenn's planned execution.
So, on the day when she's meant to be executed, he arrives just in time to fight to save her.
Wait, wasn't she supposed to be the hero of this movie?
Aiden and Corvus battle, Corvus noting Aiden's injury and starting to come out on top. But just as he's about to win Corvus throws himself on Aiden's sword, using it as a sneaky way to pass his half of the relic on and whisper some instructions into Aiden's ear.
As the guards grab Aiden and prepare to drag him away, the governor retires to his office. He heard from someone that the Emperor has a fondness for royal artifacts and he plans to hand him the relic in order to further his political career. However, Elenn has broken free of her guard and also gone to his office for it. They have a quick fight and it mirrors the earlier fight between Aiden and Leaf. Only he doesn't run her through, he merely grabs her by the hair.
And instead of stabbing him in the side, she stabs him in the eye.
All of her earlier damsel in distress moments are redeemed in this one scene.
Also rather fortunately, just as the Vitalians are dragging Aiden away, the dragon shows up and starts crispifrying them all, giving Aiden a chance to escape and regroup with Elenn.
They escape the castle and make their way towards the nearby shore, which Elenn saw in one of her visions. Apparently she can only restore the artifact if she goes into the water at this very specific point.
But the dragon finds them.
Now this is what they should have put on the DVD cover.
As the dragon prepares to eat Elenn, it gets distracted by Aiden blowing a horn. Aiden uses the nearby cliffs to avoid the dragonbreath long enough for Elenn to get into the water, where sh meets the white women again. This time they seem to be on her side and they help her put the relic back together.
Once again, there's no explanation.
Once the relic is back together, Elenn rises out of the water and the relic kills the dragon with ancient Irish laserbeams.
And all Will needed was a sword.
And so, with both the Empire and the dragon defeated, the credits roll and our movie ends.
Was it any good?
It was ok. It wasn't as good as the first one, but it was also way better than the DVD cover implied.
What it did well it did very well. The characters were realistic and you had enough time to get to know them, including Corvus. When they felt pain you felt it with them. The CGI was better than the first movie, at least for the dragon. The Raven assassin was an interesting twist that spiced up the journey somewhat.

But there were some problems. A lot of the movie was pointless. From the encounter with Aiden's frenemy to everything to do with the Glittering and the hermit. It seemed to be there purely to pad the movie out to an hour and a half when it could have fitted quite well inside of an hour.
And despite what the blurb on the back would have you believe, Aiden felt more like a main character than Elenn did, mostly because he was the one actually doing things, most of which was simply protecting her.

Next week we move on to an animated classic about a supervillain and his three adoptive daughters.

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