When I was a kid I was heavy in to the mythology of Arthurian lore. Everything about King Arthur and the knights of Camelot drew my immediate attention and fascination. I spent a great three years learning everything that I could about that era. As a kid if I’d have seen Joe Cornish’s “The Kid Who Would Be King,” I’d have left the theater with a humongous smile on my face and anxious to learn a lot more that was available in the libraries. Joe Cornish has a particular love for making heroes out of underdogs and the least suspecting people you’d come across, and he carries that trademark in to his newest film.
Rob Cohen’s “Dragonheart” is a film that was admittedly a favorite of mine when I was growing up. When it first premiered on cable, I recorded it on VHS and would watch the movie at least five times a week. Years later, “Dragonheart” is still a fun and rollicking bit of family fantasy fare. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but if you’re in the mood for a nice and breezy fantasy adventure with a hint of menace to it, you might enjoy what Cohen brings to the table. This is also one of the very few buddy action movies involving a human and a dragon, both of whom make up a bickering pair of friends that find common ground and a common enemy.
Boy it’s been a bad year for fantasy cinema in America. Time and time again fantasy films have failed for the most part, and “Warcraft” is one of those casualties. I admittedly have no experience with “Warcraft,” but for those unaware, it’s based on a massive multiplayer role playing game that’s become so popular it’s almost a way of life for most people. It’s a game so terrifyingly addictive, that a cousin of mine even pulled me aside once warning me not to play lest I be sucked in. Now that their Orc world has died, the orc shaman Gul’dan has used dark magic to open up a portal to the human realm of Azeroth.
Once a peaceful land ruled by man, the Orc army known as The Horde, now plan to populate the world and rule over it as their new home led by the noble Orc warrior Durotan. Teamed with a female half Orc named Garona, the human army of Azeroth plan to go to war with them, led by fierce warrior Lothar, their King Llane, and two wizards. Events spiral out of control though when Durotan begins rethinking the invasion and their leader Gul’dan, while Garona is torn between her loyalties to the noble humans and her people. While I’m still convinced video games just won’t translate in to a good movie, “Warcraft” is still a very good time and a nice bit of escapism.
It’s a mess narrative wise, and is painfully convoluted, but often times I found myself very entertained and intrigued by the conflict of the Orc breed struggling to fight for a new world against a human race. There’s also the themes of religious corruption embedded within the giant walking statues and graphic war scenes, which probably also helped enhance the experience. I won’t argue “Warcraft” is a masterpiece, since it tries and often fails to reach “Game of Thrones” levels of drama and intrigue. In the attempts to be just as adult in its character dynamic and ideas about xenophobia, and warfare, it becomes tough to follow.
The first half hour has a lot of information to disperse to the general broader audience, and I literally had to sit at attention to hopefully absorb what exposition the writers were trying to relay to people that have never been in to the digital world of Azeroth. Much to my surprise I cared about the characters and conflicts. I wanted to see sword wielding hero Lothar stop the impending Orc invasion, all the while uncovering the rising evil tide of his kingdom’s powerful mage. Director Duncan Jones splits the time of the film between the Orcs and humans and turns Durotan in to a very complex hero with his own ideas about what can be gained by invading Azeroth.
All the while Jones stages some fun battle sequences, including a showdown between Lothar and a murderous general in the climax. While not everyone’s performances are top notch, Travis Fimmel is great as Lothar, while Toby Kebbell does a bang up job with his motion capture performance as Durotan. It’s up in the air at the moment if “Warcraft” will continue in to a second part of its epic tale; I’m not ashamed to admit I had a good time, and should we be granted a follow up, I just may return to see how the humans win back Azeroth.
Yet another iteration of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” this time around Antony Anderson focuses on what happens when an out of time teen is set to become the king in place of King Arthur. Jason McSkimming gives a tolerable performance as young Zack, a teen who is angry about moving away from his home and longs to be a part of medieval times where honor and evil were easy to tell apart. Or some nonsense like that, I was never sure what he was rambling about. Zack is so anxious to go back in time he wills it thanks to the magic of the evil Morgause.
It’s obscene how underrated “KnightRiders” is. For a Romero movie, it’s such a departure from the norm that his fans are accustomed to, but it’s also very much a George Romero film. Not only does “KnightRider” garner much of the tropes that Romero is fond of, including the biker aesthetic, journeymen characters anti-heroes, commentaries on the monotony of domestic life, and a meshing of various races, but you can also make a great game out of spotting cast members that have been in Romero films, or will eventually be in one. Hey, there’s Joe Pilato! Look! Scott Reiniger! Patricia Tallman!
I’m a fantasy nut. You couldn’t really tell but I am a real fantasy nut and am especially fond of the King Arthur legend. Whether or not King Arthur did or did not exist, it’s obvious that the fantasy of his legend never happened, but it is a lot of fun to think so and it’s a lot of fun to study and learn about the Excalibur, the lady in the lake, or the sword in the stone (which ever happened first), and the wizard Merlin cast spells to aid his king in battle or whatnot. Director Antoine Fuqua score yet again with an entertaining and beautiful looking epic that will basically entertain audiences with a riveting action adventure. The film, which is mostly appealing for its production values, really does manage to make for an engrossing two hours that will really involve the audience in what it has to offer. Fuqua creates a very grim and stylish mood that fits what the concept is attempting to accomplish very well.