Genius Products // 2009 // 175 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 9th, 2009
Fate made them warriors. Courage will make them legends.
The latest made-for-TV fantasy miniseries tells the tale of -- are you ready for this? -- a band of random adventurers who set off on a quest across a magical land, while a really ugly, shiny eye demon thing tries to catch them and poke their faces with swords.
Said magical land is Mirabilis, a realm made up of knights and maidens, goblins and dragons, and a premium douchebag named Dragon-Eye who's seeking out something called the Crucible so he can tap into its plot-device-power and take over the world. Standing against him is...let's see if I remember everyone...an elf lady with slingshot/crossbow thing, a turncoat goblin, a dandy entrepreneur, a blind man reading a map, an Alpha male swordsman who's gruff exterior hides a heart of gold, and finally a dilapidated old wizard played by Christopher Lloyd.
Over the next 175 minutes, this eclectic gathering of do-gooders will traverse harsh landscape searching for a super-powerful artifact that may or may not exist, while being forced to endure rampant goblin attacks, smelly swamps, deadly dragons, starvation, exhaustion, internal squabbling, assassination attempts, killer robot arms, overwrought line-readings, shabby visual effects, and ultimately a guy with sixty pounds of make-up pancaked on his face.
So you've got a tale of a fellowship of heroes on a quest, a gargantuan runtime, and goblins, swords, magic, and stuff. All that separates Knights of Bloodsteel from The Lord of the Rings is...everything else.
Of course it's not fair to compare a TV movie to one of the largest cinematic undertakings in history, but the shocking discrepancy in quality between the two films helps make a point: it's hard to make a quality fantasy film on a low budget, especially these days. No matter how hard you try, and how much of that tiny budget you squeeze, the final product is inevitably more reminiscent of a renaissance faire gone off the rails than a believable fantasy epic.
Hey, nothing personal Knights, but that's just the nature of the genre. Since fantasy that doesn't star Bruce Campbell tends to be so self-serious, there's almost no room for screwups that would disrupt the tenuous suspension of disbelief -- maybe it's an awful looking dragon that flies out of nowhere and appears to have been rendered on a Gameboy Advance, a particularly brutal series of line-readings, a derivative meandering plot, or shoddy "fantasy" accents that appear to be some unholy Irish/Canadian amalgam. Knights has all that plus Christopher Lloyd spouting off gibberish about goblins and magic steel while wearing pointy ears.
I suppose if you're hard up for fantasy -- any kind of fantasy -- and don't mind pushing through large swathes of slow pacing, excruciating dialogue, and godawful CGI (seriously, can't you get the Jurassic Park T-rex software from the bargain bin?) there might be moderate value for you here. But only if you find yourself wearing your own elf ears on the weekend with friends.
Not much happening with the DVD -- 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround, no extras.
It's a fantasy film, for sure, but you just might find yourself fantasizing about doing something else while watching it.
Ye is Guilty bold adventurer.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 175 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated