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RUNNING TIME: 90 min.
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It’s Dragonheart without Connery… or Quaid… or David Thewlis… or Dina Meyer… or ILM… or a dragon…
Jonathan LaPaglia (Inferno), Larry Drake (Dr. Giggles), Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Andrew Pleavin (300), Sarah Douglas (Conan the Destroyer)
Two kingdoms are locked in civil war. One king has an ace up his sleeve: the right, by blood, to command a deadly magical beast. His court sorcerer (Drake) betrays him, taking control of the gryphon for himself and his hootchie wives. Can Princess Amelia of Lockland (Benson) and Prince Seth of Delphi (LaPaglia) see past their differences and stand together against a common foe? Well, duh.
Ray Harryhausen made this look so easy.
This is an agreeable timewaster with a CGI monster that might have been passable ten years ago on Hercules- The Legendary Journeys. The Bulgarian locations add a lot of production value, although you can tell how long a character’s going to live by how Eastern Bloc his accent is.
The story is slight, even by Sci Fi Channel standards: our heroes have to assemble a mystical artifact in order to defeat the monster, and there are only two hidden pieces instead of the customary three. To pad things out, various fantasy-type episodes transpire, including a fight with a ‘living statue’ that is clearly a stuntman in grey makeup.
In the role of the resident warrior princess, Benson is believable until she opens her mouth. Also, she’s stuck playing the kind of action heroine who’s all kick-ass until her love interest shows up, and then spends the rest of the movie doing battle in a flimsy off-the-shoulder number.
Don’t tell Willow.
LaPaglia fares better, somehow managing to make his Middle-Agey dialogue sound natural and conversational. Perhaps it’s because he’s already faking the American accent? He’s an actor I’d like to see working more in genre films: he hasn’t had the professional success of his elder brother, but anyone who remembers 7 Days should know he’s got the makings of a solid action hero.
If the movie has anything going for it, it’s the familiar faces. Douglas doesn’t get much to do, but she’s a welcome presence. Drake always seems to play villains, but he really isn’t very good at it. Maybe he’s been cast against type so often nobody can remember what his type is.
Fine by me. I was going to grab some white meat anyway.
A couple good trailers. That’s it. You are spared the usual making-of spectacle of producers defending their low budget and visual effects technicians assuring us they’re proud of their work.