MTI // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // July 8th, 2009
A journey of magic, friendship, and courage!
Harry Pott...err, I mean Billy Owens (Dalton Mugridge) just turned 11. Turns out this little rapscallion was born on the 11th day of the 11th month, at 11pm no less, so it ventures to reason he has some powers of the magical variety. Of course, he and his friends, a precocious know-it-all named Hermoine, I mean Mandy (Ciara O'Hanlon), and his other pal, the not too bright Devon (Christopher Fazio), will all go on some kind of mystical adventure. You see, their sleepy little town of Spirit River is under a mystic curse...something to do with Vikings, an evil teacher, and a town bully who seem to be able to appear anywhere at will and disappear just as fast. Oh, and Roddy Piper is there too. Why? I have no idea. Maybe someone else who's seen this flick can tell me what the heck is going on.
What hath Harry Potter wrought? Isn't it bad enough we get these soulless offerings dumped out of Hollywood on a bi-monthly basis. We sit gleefully in our home theatre hovels, willingly subjecting ourselves to the abject banality of stuff like Inkheart and The Golden Compass? No, it's gotten worse. Fed up with recruiting cast members from ye olde Renaissance fair and spending a weekend in the bush filming Willow knockoffs, the zero-budget crowd has set their sights on the Hogwarts generation. Rather than musty old homemade armor, we get kids in winter clothing and a homemade magic wand that looks like it may have come from a happy meal. It's all downhill from there.
Nothing about this film is the least bit coherent. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch. The editing is so haphazard that frankly, I'm amazed there's even continuity in the opening credits. They supposedly had a DP, but I don't think he bothered to show up. The effects look like they're ripped out of one of those badly animated PC adventure games featuring those terrible digitized actors from the early '90s. No. Scratch that. Nothing in Phantasmagoria looked even close to this bad. Costume design? Roddy Piper's hat, that's about the extent of it.
I'm not sure there was a screenplay, but there are seventeen and a half writers credited with this madness. The acting is truly wretched on every level. I don't think Roddy Piper (They Live!) even knows what the hell is going on (then again, that's not anything new). The characters ALL seem to be a part of some crazy mystical conspiracy, popping in and out of existence with alarming frequency. It took forever for the endgame to arrive, only to be resolved in a blast of yellow light, leaving me stunned. Then, to put the capper on this crapper, it ends with a horrifying "To Be Continued..."
Do not watch this movie. That's as plain as I can put it. The human mind is a fragile thing, and I'd hate to see someone abuse it in such horrid fashion. This thing is a glorified home movie. When the kids are all growed up, I'm sure they'll grab the disc off the shelf and say to themselves, "Remember that time Dad got Roddy Piper all coked up and dared him to be in our Harry Potter movie? Good times..."
I can't wait to see the sequel, Billy Owens and the Secret of the Runes.
The disc provided by MTI was a screener, but the picture and sound matched the quality of the film itself...that is to say, they weren't good. Not good at all. I didn't notice any edge enhancement, and the picture was anamorphic, but every other video problem known to man was present: flickering, shimmering, dancing colors, grain, compression artifacts, you name it. The 2.0 stereo track was fully front loaded and sounded like it came off of my Dad's Handicam. No extras other than a trailer narrated by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), which probably (hopefully) cost them more than the film itself.
Guilty. Oh so very guilty!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG