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I’m a fantasy geek. I grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series. My tastes in video games run toward the fantasy RPGs and MMOs, and you can bet every last cent that I will play a mage class, destruction magic if possible (still haven’t learned how to shoot fireballs from my hands in real life, though).
So when I was approached about a year ago by a guy who followed Moviepilot’s fantasy page religiously and explained to us he and a few others were trying to get an indie fantasy film series off the ground, of course, I was down to help spread the good word about their Kickstarter project.
Lo and behold, that project was Mythica: A Quest for Heroes, and that guy was co-star Jake Stormoen (whom some of you might remember from our Actor Diaries series).
Fast-forward a year later, and the screener link was before me. But I was nervous. Even as a fantasy fan, I admit, high fantasy is exceptionally hard to do well. Go too heavy on the magic and creatures, and you run the risk of falling into complete cheese factor territory (I recently screened Seventh Sonand got a stark reminder of that). But go too light on them and you miss the point of the genre completely.
I’m happy to report that I need not have worried. Mythica nails the tone of high fantasy. Admittedly, the plot suffers a bit, as most fantasy does, from a weakly-defined catalyst to get things rolling: There is a stone of great power that must not fall into the wrong hands. Predictably, it falls into the wrong hands and it’s up to our heroes to stop them. In other words, your generic MacGuffin plot. But what the story lacks in being fully fleshed out is more than balanced by the characters.
Our main protagonist is Marek (Melanie Stone), a crippled but plucky slave girl who has secretly been learning magic from her trainer and only friend, the nomadic Gojun Pye (Kevin Sorbo). She dreams of adventure, and when she finally escapes her brutish master one night, she sets off to find it. Heading to an inn renowned for being a gathering place for adventurers, she offers her aid to priestess Teela (Nicola Posener), whose sister – and stone of power – have been kidnapped by orcs.
And indeed, while men join them on their quest – I’ll get to them in a minute – it is the women that are the engine of the film. Posener plays priestess Teela with a quiet determination and grace befitting of a woman serving a divine goddess, wise beyond her years but with a real affection for her companions.
But it is Stone’s portrayal of Marek upon which the entire film rests, and she shines in the role. From her introduction, you like Marek, whom Stone plays with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. Clever and determined, Marek is the heart of the group and you find yourself rooting for her to succeed simply because she’s so damn endearing.
The honest friendship between Marek and Teela blossoms quickly, and it’s a joy to watch a movie in which the female protagonists aren’t secondary characters needing to be rescued by men, but the other way around – indeed, it is the women who do the saving. Mythica passes the Bechdel test with flying colors and then some.
Still, the men hold their own on the screen. For their rescue mission, Marek recruits Thane (Adam Johnson) a world-weary soldier with a good heart, searching for a dignified existence, and Dagen (Jake Stormoen), a roguish thief who enjoys nothing more than gold – except maybe using that gold to bed beautiful women.
Unlike Marek and Teela, who are open and honest about who they are, you get the sense that both Dagen and Thane have walls they have built through years of hard experience. Where the women are determined and open, the men are cynics. But as the group inevitably grows closer, slowly, that cynicism is chipped away piece by piece.
Fantasy fans will be happy to know that Mythica takes equal care with the world-building and visuals, too. One of the reasons fantasy films have lagged behind is that no one has yet found a way to make magic look as realistic and visceral on screen as, say, superheroes flying around and explosions. But for an indie film, the effects are high quality. Visually pretty but with a more grounded take on the special effects, it actually makes you feel as if, were magic to exist in reality, this is what it would look like. Not all glitter and perfect CGI, but with a raw quality that you’d expect in the hands of a novice.
Likewise, writer-director Anne K. Black brings the same good eye that she has for those visuals into the fight scenes. While Mythica is the first of a planned series of movies and does involve character introduction and set-up, it is not at all light on the action. Our characters get knocked around – a lot. They bleed and they kick ass and get their asses kicked. The pace moves swiftly. This isn’t Frodo & co. walking for a hundred miles of exposition, but characters that are thrown into the thick of it right from the start.
I really hope this gets picked up for distribution somewhere, and I hope it gets picked up as a series. We need more of this in our world – a high fantasy project that’s true to the genre, a fantasy series where, for once, the women shine even more brightly than the men.
Fantasy is always in fashion. Everyone has a favorite fantasy film or book, many have multiple favorites. However, what you’ll find below is the indisputable list of the five best fantasy movies (or series of movies.)
5. The NeverEnding Story
What makes this film so great is that it is essentially about a child reading a book and becoming lost in the story and the audience with him. Our storybook fantasy of flying dog-like dragons, towering mystical and deadly oracles, rock monsters and the mysterious and sinister “The Nothing.” The film is one of history’s most brilliantly executed story-within-a-story narratives. We love this film because it transports us not only into a strange world, but it does so in a way that allows us to experience it the way a child would.
4. Pan’s Labyrinth
If our previous entry is a children’s classic, then Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is an adult neoclassic parable. A tale told by giant toads, fairies and full moons as well as intertwining storylines between two universes. It is a unique beast for both its darkness and its poignancy. And it must be said that this film boasts some of the best practical special effects to date.
3. The Princess Bride
Another story-within-a-story classic. This one is distinct because it introduces the concept of the grandfather reading a tale to his sick grandson who is not really that into it. The meat of the fantasy story is distinguished from other fantasy films for its reliance on never-ending comedic dialogue, even during action sequences. The world of The Princess Bride is that of a stage play and all the characters know it. So they’re verbose, witty and ridiculous, which is why we love every character and scene in this film.
For the purposes of this list, we are judging Harry Potter as a body of work rather than any one film. And that’s because if it were otherwise, this list would be much less interesting. Taken as a whole, it contains the most complete story arcs for any group of characters in history. We literally see Harry Potter and grow up and fulfill their destiny. Which is a feat in and of itself that makes these films worthy of the greatness they’ve earned.
The supreme of all the fantasy film. The final film of the trilogy won the Oscar for Best Picture. Its source material has been read by generations of literature readers all over the world. Attempts had been made to put this massive universe to film, but the sheer scope of the universe made it practically impossible. But technology changed all that and the combination of pristine New Zealand landscape, a brilliant director and billions of carefully arranged pixels made this adaptation by Peter Jackson worthy of it’s place at the top of our list. To say nothing of the brilliant screenplays, flawless performances and jaw dropping cinematography.
Is it possible that Arrowstorm Entertainment could displace one or more of the titles on this list? We hope so! Mythica: A Quest for Heroes is set in a rich world of magic and the gathering of a heroic force of adventurers to free the heroine’s captured sister.
Mythica: A Quest for Heros
Check out the trailer by clicking here.
Here at Arrowstorm Entertainment we love fantasy films of all kinds. Occasionally, we will showcase a short film and tell you why we like it! If you have a fantasy genre film you would like to submit email us a link at: email@example.com with the subject line: “Film Review”
Angel, created by filmmaker Rodolphe Pierre-Louis is a fantasy story told in modern clothes. A young painter sees a star falls from the sky and chases it down to discover a lovely young woman with magical powers. Love, adventures, transformation and betrayal. And without spoiling a rather enjoyable treat, I’ll simply say that this film is definitely worth less than eight minutes of your time.
From the looks of it, this film had an extremely limited budget. The credits indicate that the filmmaker wore multiple has including director, writer, cinematographer, editor, etc. What that means is that this film is the work of very few people, most of what you see is Pierre-Louis own handiwork. What’s impressive is the rather complete fantasy story the filmmaker was able to tell in under eight minutes.
To it’s credit, the film is mostly absent of dialogue. The reliance on the visual medium to tell the tale was executed brilliantly. The actors turned in believable performances, the silent nature of this film is well suited to their emotive behavior. It’s clear that these are not Hollywood’s finest, but that doesn’t mean they were without skill. It was their acting that drove the story, and it was good for the most part. Unfortunately, when the actors actually do speak, it drags the scene down.
The story itself is rather straightforward. Which is a good choice for this director. What’s complex about this film is how it intertwines so many story beats into an eight minute film. And it does so without confusing the audience about what was going on nor insult their intelligence by explicitly explaining it. It’s a mood piece, a short piece of art to be enjoyed for how it marries cerebral concepts with fantasy elements in a modern setting.
The importance composer Tommy Gundersen’s score to the film would be difficult to overstate. It is the music that carries the emotional weight of this film. And as a piece of music unto itself, the score is a rather enjoyable thing to listen to.
The film is not without it’s flaws of course. There will definitely be some mixed feelings about how it all wraps up. But I left this film with a number of questions. Not about the film itself but about deeper concepts like love. Because that’s really what this story is about.
When all is said and done, Angel is a valiant effort by a group of enthusiastic amateurs. They knew the story they wanted to tell and they did so in a way that is compelling, thought provoking and most importantly, entertaining.
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The idea of dragons permeates every culture on Earth. And for good reason – they’re terrifying, winged, fire breathing beasts of the night. An imagination can be set ablaze for days fantasizing about everything from massive wing spread, special abilities and habitat down to their smallest details down to the shape and color of their scales and the color of their eyes. In short, they’re just awesome.
The reason dragons are so awesome because they occupy a special place in the collective consciousness of humanity. But the idea of a dragon is as unique to the person imaging such a creature. Sometimes they’re highly intelligent monsters like Smaug from The Hobbit, who rains fiery destruction and death on innocent and unsuspecting villages. Other times they’re imagined to be the benevolent protectors and friends like Elliot the dragon in the children’s movie Pete’s Dragon. The types, abilities, personalities and role of dragons are nearly infinite in the worlds of myth, literature, films and most importantly, imagination.
But the history of dragons is far older than modern writings and films. The ancient world boasted some of the most classic dragons such as Leviathan, who first appears in the Old Testament and is described as a sea monster and later texts characterized him as a dragon that lived in the Mediterranean Sea. Centuries later, English philosopher Thomas Hobbes would borrow the name of ancient beast as the title of his political treatise Leviathan, which went on to shape concepts such social contract theory and sovereignty.
An example of an ancient dragon that still appears regularly in modern contexts is Bahamut. Arabian mythology tells the tale of an epic sea creature. However, the popular Final Fantasy video game series has reimagined this myth as “The King of Dragons” and one of the series most enduring, powerful and popular summons. In most cases players must first defeat this fearsome monster in order to tame it and bring it’s powerful, destructive powers under their control.
One of the most enduring dragon myths is that of St. George and The Dragon. This is the tale of a child eating, plague ridden monster that dwells in a lake outside a small town. To appease the monster, the townsfolk would feed sheep and even their own children to the unnamed dragon. A chance encounter with a princess leads George to slay the dragon in exchange for the town’s commit to convert to Christianity. With his sword Ascalon, and the help of an enchanted orange tree, George destroyed the monster. The story is still remembered today and many Christian sects consider George a saint. He is still venerated each year on St. George’s Day and is even the patron saint of England.
Even today, new tales of dragons are being told, retold, merged, bent and made fresh for modern audiences. Arrowstorm Entertainment’s The Crown and the Dragon is the story of two dragons; “one poisons the land, the other heals it” and the young woman who is destined to become a paladin and prophesied dragon slayer.
These are just a few examples of awesome dragons. However, in the end it isn’t any particular story or dragon archetype that fuels our endless fascination with them. It is the fact that they represent indomitable will, unlimited strength and foreboding nature makes them irresistible for stories about how man can overcome seemingly impossible odds and find in themselves the very same qualities of will, strength and courage that it takes to follow in the footsteps of Saint George, and kill the monster.
Check Out Our Film: The Christmas Dragon
Our latest feature here at Arrowstorm Entertainment, Mythica: A Quest for Heros is a film to get excited about. It’s the beginning of a whole new fantasy world. The beginning of a new series with a compelling female hero – Marek – who must assemble a team of heroic adventurers to help her rescue her little sister who has been abducted by orcs. The film is likely to deliver a highly rich world of high-fantasy, and with a series in the works, we can look forward to an epic multi-movie story arc that should quite a fun ride. If you haven’t seen the trailer, check it out here.
Here are some others to be excited about……
The Last Witch Hunter
Not many would associate action-film star Vin Diesel as a fantasy fan’s first choice, given his tendency to star in popcorn action flicks rather than venture into worlds of witches and magic. However, the actor’s posts about the project, his character and the plot suggests that this film will be a new marriage of fantasy and action that could prove to be a fresh take on two well worn genres.
It’s been a long time since we had a live action adaption of Peter Pan. The last being 2003’s Peter Pan. This year we’re being treated to a new take on the ever-young flying boy in the form of an origin story. And since Peter’s early years have never been explored in detail on film, this movie promises to renew our fascination with the boy who never grew up. And with heavy hitters such as Hugh Jackman and Amada Seyfried in the cast, it’s a good bet that it will deliver on that promise.
Based on the wildly successful video game series, this is the first cinematic excursion into the world of Azeroth, which alone is a good reason to be excited about it. Of course an even bigger reason to get excited about this film is the certainty of spectacular Alliance/Horde battle sequences. Warcraft does fantasy to near perfection in the video games, let’s hope it can beat the “video game movie adaptation curse.” Nobody wants to walk out of a movie based on one the most cherished fantasy franchises and be left wanting.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The entire Star Wars franchise is essentially an epic fantasy legend played against an expansive stage of a galaxy far, far away. And after a lackluster prequel series, a surprise acquisition by Disney and return of the original cast – the next generation of Star Wars adventures has fans breathlessly waiting for this one.
While you wait for some of these upcoming epic fantasy films, make sure to check out all of these.