Thursday, 17 August 2017

Mythica: A Quest For Heroes.

I don't think it's really a secret that I'm a massive Dungeons and Dragons nerd.
I love being a player, I love being a GM, I love reading fantasy novels, looking at monster stat-lines, creating new races, building entire worlds.
It is quite a wondrous thing to be a fan of.
But there's one D&D related thing I don't enjoy.
Watching the movies.
For some reason they just cannot get a good movie done.
Even movies based off of D&D don't do very well. The whole Fantasy genre appears to be mired in a pool of mediocrity.
It doesn't help that they're very cheap to make, so a lot of mediocre film companies will just churn them out to make a quick buck. Just buy some costumes and go film in the woods for a few hours, add some monster in post and BAM, one terrible fantasy movie.
Arrowstorm Entertainment, on the other hand, actually care about making movies that at least have decent plots.
You may remember them from my reviews of Dawn of the Dragonslayer and its' sequel.
So, I present to you Mythica: A Quest For Heroes.
These guys really need to sack whoever keeps doing these.
Okay Arrowstorm, we need to have a serious talk. Can you please, please start making DVD covers that actually relate to the movie?
Two of those three people don't appear in the movie. That dragon doesn't appear in the movie. That castle might appear in the movie, but if it does it's only briefly. She doesn't use swords in the movie. Not even one, let alone two. That skirt isn't even a part of her outfit for crying out loud.
Want to know the most insulting part of this cover though?
Can you spot it?
The actual screenshot they edited for the front cover actually appears on the back cover.
Great job editor, great job.
Luckily, the movie's better than the cover, so let's get straight into it.
The movie starts with an old, bearded guy handing a stone to a woman, telling her to take it to some Paladins. He can't take it because he's too old, but I'm calling BS on that.
Even with the beard, he only looks to be in his forties at most.
The urgency comes from the fact that their village is currently being invaded by Orcs.
These guys.
The Orc leader uses some magic to drain the information about the stone's location from the old man, killing him in the process.
Meanwhile, the stonebearer is trying to flee alongside her sister, but their escape route gets blocked by a troll.
Or maybe an Ogre.
The troll (Or maybe ogre) knocks the non-stonebearing sister to the ground and grabs the stonebearer, who tells her sister to run and get help.
And then we get the title card.
It does sound like a D&D adventure module.
We jump cut to a quiet medieval era cottage and we get our first look at our main character.
Well, if I had a foot fetish, this would horrify me.
Our main character was born with a deformed leg, which the local townspeople took as a sign that she's been touched by a devil, or something, and spurned her throughout her life.
I've read character sheets with worse backstory.
Her name is Marek, which is not the kind of name you expect a servant girl to have. She and her friend are mixing ingredients together, which her friend says is something that they shouldn't be doing. Marek reckons that it will be fine, but as is only natural for these kind of movies, everything blows up in her face.
Marek is only slightly annoyed because it didn't work as intended, but her owner is a lot moreso.
Oh yeah, did I say she was a servant? I meant slave. Because she's literally a slave.
And her owner looks like such a delightful person.
Their owner berates them and throws a small bag to the boy, telling him to go sell it to the Wizard in town. Marek decides that she'll go instead, despite the boy pointing out that with her leg she won't return in time and be branded a runaway.
Marek doesn't listen to him.
Marek reaches the Wizard and they talk about how far she's come with learning magic from him.
Oh, and you might recognise the Wizard, he used to be pretty famous back in the day.
I won't mention his insane political rants.
The Wizard hands her a parchment containing a displacement spell, which he recommends not to use on anything living. Not if she wants them to remain living.
He starts burning the rest of his stuff, explaining that he's leaving town and can't risk his stuff being found afterwards, which raises all sorts of questions about why he's leaving town.
Before he leaves he tells Marek about an inn that might be able to provide her with experience in using her magic.
And that was his entire contribution to the movie.
As Marek leaves she notices some people celebrating and is told that some adventurers are in town with some dragon eggs.
So, does this take place at the same time as Dawn of the Dragonslayer?
I can't think of any other reason for this scene to be here, especially since in the next scene Marek's trying to leave town before the guards notice her.
It goes well.
The leader notices her slave tattoo on the back of her neck. He says that while she's not his type, he can sell her for quite a bit. As they drag her away they get accosted by some drunkard, who tells them to let her go.
For some reason, they don't listen to him.
The leader, who's actually a noble of some kind, tries to lie to the drunkard but gets nowhere with that, so he just orders his men to kill him.
You can imagine how well that goes for them.
Gee, I wonder if this guy will be important to the plot later.
Marek manages to escape during the fighting and instead of returning to her owner she attempts to exit the Kingdom in order to reach the inn that she was told about. Her attempt is made more difficult by the presence of several guards at the border crossing, but she manages to sneak aboard a passing cart.
Which is where she meets the next major character.
Gee, I wonder which D&D archetype this guy is?
This guy is the dashing rogue type of person. He's also what every MRA douchenugget wishes he was. He calls people Mi'lady, molests them repeatedly and uses words like 'Cuckold'.
I'm surprised that he isn't wearing a fedora. Or a trilby.
He takes his leave, and her money, which results in her getting caught by a guard.
Later, she gets returned to her exceedingly angry owner and things kind of escalate from there.
Well, that doesn't look healthy.
Is pretty neat though.
I'm going to upgrade from 'Pretty neat' to 'darn cool'.
Marek uses some kind of instinctive necromantic power to drain her owner's life from him, which she converts into the spell to blast him away. Sadly, she doesn't have any control over the power and accidentally drains a little from her friend as well.
While this unsettles him, he doesn't let it from stopping him from helping her. He's too scared to go with her, but he does give her a device he built for her leg, so that she can run faster.
Would have been nice of them to foreshadow his technical expertise, but I guess you can't have everything.
On her way to the inn (Known as Hammerhead, making me want to play Final Fantasy XV again) she comes across a familiar face. It's the drunkard who saved her earlier. Only problem is, he's been arrested and is currently locked in a metal cage in the middle of a field.
So, how does our daring heroine react upon seeing the desperate plight of a man she owes her life to?
She acts like a Londoner on the Tube.
If she crossed the border or not is unclear, since the very next scene is of her finding and entering the inn. It's a rowdy place, filled with adventurers celebrating successful escapades.
It also includes a dwarf who can remove someone's head from fifty paces with an axe.
The dwarf is of course Hammerhead himself, who not only runs the inn but also acts as sort of adventurer HQ, since an adventurer slams a Gorgon's head on the table.
Which just seems like a rather unsanitary way to go about things.
Marek struggles to get his attention, but ingeniously finds a solution.
For a given value of 'Ingeniously'.
Marek asks if there's any work for a magician, but Hammerhead just laughs at her naivety and prepares to throw her out.
Luckily for Marek, a redhead distracts the whole bar for her.
A redhead with immaculate eyebrows, considering the setting.
This is Teela, who's a priestess and needs help rescuing her sister.
Her sister being the stonebearer from the opening, who got grabbed by a troll (Or maybe an ogre).
Teela asks Hammerhead if he knows of any heroes who can help her, but since she has very little money he scoffs at her request.
You can see where this is going, can't you?
"So, you both meet at an inn."
Teela at first turns down Marek's help, due to the fact that she clearly has never been on an adventure before.
But Marek convinces her to be open-minded, mostly by lying and saying that she has a team who can help.
Teela does some weird mind-meld thing to Marek. It's unclear, but it seems as though Teela was granted a vision of guidance by her God. She accepts Marek's help, and they go off to recruit a team.
First, the meatshield.
Marek persuades the drunkard to swear an oath to help her before she sets him free, which seems like kind of a dick move since it was her fault that he was stuck in there in the first place.
One point of note: the drunkard (Whose name is Thane, which is maybe the least-inspired name for a D&D Viking fighter possible) mentions that he used to fight for the Vitalian Empire. I'm not 100% sure, but I think that was the empire mentioned in Dawn of the Dragonslayer 2.
If so, then this would be a remarkable bit of world building. Tiny little connections which don't break the flow of the movie, but do show that this is a full world with events beyond what we're seeing.
Anyways, Marek uses a small spell to explode the lock, but this attracts the attentions of the guards, whom Thane deals with.
"You're being chased by the guards, what do you do?"
"I turn and headbutt him in the dick. Natural 20!"
"Ooh, that's gonna sting."
After killing the guards and looting their stuff (Typical D&D shenanigans) they go to recruit a thief. Thane knows of one who's probably 'Coupling with my Commander's wife', to quote Thane.
And guess which thief that might be.
Yep, the douchenozzle.
Marek and Thane persuade him to join their escapade by threatening to keep him there until the Commander returns.
Also, I'll never get tired of the scene where Thane punches him in the face.
Trust me, he deserves it.
The thief's name is Dagen.
The next morning, the three of them meet Teela at the designated meeting place.
If you're familiar with traditional Dungeons and Dragons, then you'll recognise the basic recommended party for newbies.
The Fighter, the Rogue, the Sorcerer and the Cleric.
And you'll also recognise the douchey behaviour that plagues some groups.
"My character immediately hits on your character."
Teela doesn't exactly hit it off with Dagen, whom Thane keeps referring to as 'Elf', which is something I would not have realised. His ears are covered and he has a goatee, which is highly unusual for an Elf in fiction.
After a hiking montage which totally isn't inspired by Lord of the Rings, honestly, trust me, it's really original to this Fantasy movie and no other, the party reach Teela's temple.
It's seen better days.
Those corpses are really going to bring down property values.
Dagen acts like a jerk and suggests looting the corpses, which Teela doesn't exactly approve of.
Instead Thane tracks the Orcs to their camp and well, let's just remember that Arrowstorm studios are working on a tight budget. A really, really tight budget.
Also, let's just pretend that it's actually night-time.
After spending waaay too long arguing about whether or not they can fight the Orcs head-on (They figure that they can't), Marek comes up with an alternate plan. Send the Thief.
Seriously. Their plan is to send the thief to release the prisoners and sneak away with them. Dagen refuses to commit suicide in such a manner, but Marek convinces him that if anything goes wrong, they'll charge in as back-up.
Meaning that their plan still boils down to charging headlong at the Orcs, only this way they might get their Thief captured beforehand.
This really is a typical Dungeons and Dragons session, isn't it?
Dagen goes along with it, only to immediately get spotted, leading them into a fight anyway.
However did they notice him?
The Orcs start to chase after Dagen, but get distracted when Thane and the others charge. Despite what they said about their being too many Orcs for them to fight, things seem to go rather well for them. Even Marek manages to kill some, using nothing but her dagger.
So yeah, these 'Bloodthirsty, dangerous killing machines' don't seem particularly dangerous.
Although their tactic of 'Stand around and stare at them' is truly terrifying to behold.
Dagen returns to the fight, stabbing Orcs as he goes. This allows them to last long enough to get surrounded. The Orcs offer to let the men leave if they hand over the women, which Dagen actually scoffs at, proving that he does have some redeeming features.
This causes the Orcs to attack, injuring Thane. 
Luckily Marek saves them with a Photoshop effect.
I honestly think I might have been able to do better.
This apparently buys them enough time to escape and put some distance between them and the Orcs, even half-carrying Thane.
They manage to evade the Orcs long enough to hide in a cave that Thane knew about from his army days.
Once they're clear enough of the Orcs, Teela gets to work treating Thane's various wounds.
I'm so glad that I know what the context of this picture is.
Teela manages to heal Thane enough for him to be out of danger, though he still has to rest. They start emotionally bonding, which causes Marek to start getting jealous.
She goes off to explore the caves and finds a chest with some fine clothes inside, as well as a small figurine of two lovers. Dagen catches up to her and explains that the figurine is supposed to be placed on an altar as a gift to the Gods and a request to find love.
And he seemed like such a one-note character at first.
He exposits about the cave they're in, explaining that it is an old smuggler's cache, hence why it's difficult to spot if you don't know where it is.
If this plot point sounds familiar, it's because it was used in Dawn of the Dragonslayer 2. The best bit though? He mentions that they were Derrin smuggler's.
Derrin was the name of the country from that movie.
Meaning that this is either set in the same world, or they're just lazy and reused the same names.
I'm going to go with the former, until proven otherwise.
They return to the main cavern and Dagen asks Teela where her sister might actually be.
She admits that the Orcs didn't capture her, but an Ogre (Hah, it was an Ogre) that was working with them might have grabbed her.
Dagen lays into her about lying to them and he storms off. Marek chases after him, but almost gets captured by the Orcs combing the forest outside. Dagen saves her, but refuses to rejoin and takes his leave.
That night, Marek and Teela have a chat, which naturally evolves into Marek asking if she can heal birth deformities. Teela makes an attempt to heal her foot, but stops when she is given a vision by her Goddess.
As far as visions go, only mildly disturbing.
This is the kind of stupid Godly decisions that always ruined mythology for me. Basically, her foot is a mark from the Gods, signalling the dread magics dwelling inside of her. Problem is, by marking her in such a way and then blocking any attempts to heal it, all they're doing is turning her away from them, increasing the likelihood of her using those magics for selfish purposes.
In short, Gods tend to be dumb.
The next morning, Thane calls upon all of his tracking expertise to follow the Ogres trail, though he mentions that he was trained to follow humans, so his skills may not be entirely reliable.
I think he'll somehow manage.
Whilst they walk Thane and Teela chat about their backstories, Marek getting more jealous in the background.
They start to argue about petty nonsense, but are interrupted by some vicious snarls.
I'm not sure what it is, but I don't think throwing a stick will appease it.
The group flees, but Marek's not exactly a great sprinter.
Luckily, this creature isn't the only monster in the area.
Remember why they were there?
They reach a clearing and take a breather, but that's when the Ogre reaches them.
It manages to knock Thane unconscious before kidnapping both him and Teela.
That night, feeling like a failure, Marek desperately prays to Amaset, the owl Goddess, and is granted a vision.
A vision of Amaset pulling her hand away, refusing to help.
This Goddess ain't been much use, has she?
Marek decides to go it alone and we get yet another travel montage, though this one at least has an amazing guitar riff to go with it.
After a while she finds an Orc encampment, as well as an old friend.
"Note to self, never split the party."
Marek uses her wits and a little magic to cause a distraction big enough to rescue him.
And this is why the Illusion school of magic is so over-powered.
With Dagen rescued, Marek persuades him to come with her and rescue the others.
You know what this means?
Another travelling montage?
Another travelling montage.
Oooh, this is actually quite pretty.
When they reach the Ogre's cave Dagen declares what they're about to do to be impossible, before kissing Marek and claiming that he'll do it anyway.
Once inside the cave, Dagen starts searching for captives (Among all of the skeletons). He finds a peasant who's been buried among some haphazardly-stacked rocks.
After some more searching he finds Teela's sister.
This chick.
She hands him the stone and tells him to leave with it, but of course that's not what he's here for.
Whilst this conversation has been going on, the peasant has been screaming his head off, which has attracted the attention of the Ogre.
Who decides that he wants a snack.
*Crunching noises*
After the Ogre goes back to wherever it went, Dagen and Marek manage to find Thane and Teela, though the rock that's keeping them trapped proves to be too heavy to lift. 
So Marek decides to try and use her teleport spell to free them.
Does she cast the spell on the rock, thus allowing them to simply climb out?
Of course not, she casts it on them.
But she can't generate enough power on her own, so she taps into her Necromantic side and starts draining Dagen's life-force.
And this time she did it on purpose.
The spell works and everyone is on their knees struggling not to puke. Surprisingly, Dagen doesn't seem mad about having his life-force drained, simply asking that she never do it again.
They manage to move the rock holding Teela's sister in place, but are interrupted again by the Ogre. Luckily, Thane finds a pointy thing to throw at it.
Y'know, if there's one thing Arrowstorm are good at, it's CGI monsters.
The Ogre injures Thane with a rock, but gets an arrow into the eyeball courtesy of Dagen. This buys the group enough time to scurry into a narrow crevasse, safe from the Ogre's reach.
Er, I've played RPGs for long enough to know what's coming next.
The clerics heal Thane, just in time for Dagen to notice all of the cobwebs.
And make the same deduction that I made.
So the team have a choice. They can either fight past the Ogre, or take their chances with a very large number of giant spiders.
To be fair to Thane, neither of these choices were particularly great ones.
And these spiders were pretty darn big too.
Once Dagen runs out of arrows Teela holds them off with a torch. Marek casts a spell on a dagger and throws it at the Ogre, who reels back in pain, giving them a chance to get past it.
Though Dagen is a little slowed due to him dragging a dead spider behind him, trying to dislodge his arrow.
And it's not like archers are much use without their arrows.
Before they escape though, the Ogre returns, knocking Thane unconscious with one swipe.
After they get back to the inn, I'd get someone to check on Thane's head, he gets knocked out dangerously often.
Everyone else gets knocked down in quick succession, leaving only Marek standing.
And with her foot, she doesn't stay standing for long.
Now this is just adding injury to insult.
Marek uses a spell to blast the Ogre, who again reels back, though not for long. But it is long enough for Marek to grab the arrow from the spider and rub the head in the poison.
And when the Ogre reaches for her, she jabs it into his already-injured eye.
This is the point in the campaign where the DM realises that he made the monster too powerful, so he lets the last-ditch effort work.
I have to say, when the Ogre is staggering about in pain as it dies, the CGI is exceptional, making it look genuinely there.
With the Ogre dead Marek wakes up the others. Dagen congratulates her, before expressing disappointment with the Ogre's lack of treasure.
What did he expect, they're like level 1, maybe 2 tops.
And so, the victorious team strode away into the sunset.
Cliche? Maybe, but still kinda cool.
All that's left is for the party to return to Hammerhead, dumping the Ogre's ear onto the bar and earning the Dwarf's true respect.
The real question is, who gave the Ogre his piercing?
There's also the small matter of setting up the sequel. Teela's sister leaves to take the stone to the Paladin, though Teela stays with the group.
And then there's whoever this guy is.
Overall, this movie was pretty decent. Sure, there were some moments that seemed hokey. The characters were a bit shakey and the CGI was a bit of a let-down in some places.
But the effort the creative team put into this shines through.
They knew what their weaknesses were and they covered them well, focusing on what they could do well.

Next time, a classic tale about the prejudices that immigrants face when they're forced to travel overseas and try to make a new home in a foreign land.
And it's also about marmalade sandwiches.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this movie. I wasn't too sure about it at first but after a while, I really started to like it and have watched the first four. While the first three were pretty awesome, I was disappointed in the fourth movie which I found to be boring. Hopefully, the last one will be better! Overall, I really do like the characters in these movies and I think the actors and directors did a great job.