Lionsgate // 2011 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 9th, 2012
The fate of an empire is in their hands.
Finally, the dream team that fans have been clamoring for: Kevin Sorbo and Michael Paré!
In the kingdom of Abelar, the diabolical demon sorceress Xia (Whitney Able, Pound of Flesh) has threatened to usurp the Queen and allow her vampire horde to run amok, drinking the blood of all manner of Renaissance Faire expatriates.
The Queen reaches out to a dashing rogue (with crow's feet) named Aedan (Kevin Sorbo, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys), who has a lead on the only hope for the kingdom's survival: Oda (Michael Paré, Eddie and the Cruisers), a legendary yet dilapidated swordsman who has proved his mettle against Xia and her undead in another time.
Tales of an Ancient Empire is terrible. Here's why:
* Michael Paré wears a wig and looks ridiculous in it.
* Paré plays Kevin Sorbo's biological father, when the two probably attended high school together.
* The cinematography is bathed in bright startling lights and fuzzy resolution, as if the cameraman rubbed K-Y on his lens and went to a rave in Soho.
* For a movie allegedly about warriors and swordsmen there is essentially no action, save for Sorbo stumbling around in a barroom brawl.
* Vampires are in this...why? Because vampires are awesome again? Not that they doing anything interesting anyway, besides occasionally biting the necks of topless women. Vampire fighting is severely under-represented.
* Way too much narration strewn throughout the runtime. It's almost as if the pointlessly dense plot is so poorly written and executed that we need some woman to directly address the audience and offer play-by-play.
* The big fight scene -- to which all this has been building -- is lopped off, leaving us with some hastily drawn stills to depict the heroes battling a monster (really) and -- you guessed it! -- more narration.
But do not fear adventurers, for there is one quality that utterly redeems Tales of an Ancient Empire: it is laughably short. The film officially clocks in at 89 minutes but the opening and closing credits run for about 10 minutes each. That's only like an hour or so of crap you'll have to sit through!
The DVD: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby surround, and a perplexingly lengthy making-of featurette.
The only other tale from this ancient empire I want to hear is the one where everyone gets vaporized by an asteroid.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R