I know J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings tales came way before the creation of the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game, and I’m sure some of Tolkien’s elements were consciously and/or unconsciously integrated into Gary Gygax’s RPG, but every time I see a ‘sword and sorcery’ movie I always end up comparing it to that beloved RPG I used to be heavily into back in high school in the mid-80s. Generally when I do a review of a “memory movie” or any movie whose genre harks back to childhood I like to chronicle those childhood memories as they connect to the movie. I’m going to eschew that this time and just direct you to this article I wrote last December that pretty much recounts every thing I can remember about my time with D&D back in high school. It’s a good primer to understanding my love for thus sub-genre and why I wanted to review this movie when I stumbled upon on a trailer of it.
I’m going to assume Dungeons & Dragons was not on the mind of the creators of Mythica even though the band of adventures one of the main characters assembles feels very much like the kind of band one would put together in a D&D campaign, Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies are most likely the inspiration for this movie.
Our main character in Mythica is Marek (Melanie Stone), a magic-user in training so-to-speak who’s also a slave. Seasoned wizard, Gojun Pye (Kevin Sorbo who cameos in the film. He’s not a central character, at least not in this first installment), is her mentor, but he’s suddenly gotten paranoid and wants to leave his digs for a life bordering more on utter secrecy. Marek wants to join him but he believes her future lies elsewhere. Around this time she gets fed up with being a slave and revolts after a series of events leaves her battered and picked on.
She ventures to a tavern ruled over by a dwarf called, Hammerhead (Christopher Robin Miller), whose nose I could not stop staring at. It’s kind of penile shaped. Adventurers frequent this tavern and since Marek needs money as well, she arrives at just the right time. Priestess, Teela (Nicola Posener), comes seeking a band of warriors to free her sister from a massive Ogre and his orc band, but there’s more at stake than just a captured sibling. It’s a magical stone her sister has and in the prologue it’s the main cause as to why her temple was raided, but thanks to the Gods it has yet to fall into unsavory hands; her sister has it and so far none of the orcs know it yet.
Marek promises she can pull together a band that’ll help Teela and during the night she does just that. Enter fighter, Thane (Adam Johnson), and elven thief, Dagen (Jake Stormoen). So there’s your D&D inspired band of adventures.
I’ll be honest I was not wowed by this movie, but I’ll get into why in just a minute, and its redemption. But first one of the things I did like about it was something some of the worst low-budget sword and sorcery flicks don’t generally excel in. There are currently three movies in existence supposedly based on the D&D role playing game. The first two are shit, plain and simple. The third, Dungeons & Dragons: The Book Of Vile Darkness (2012) is the only one I can watch repeatedly, but it would have been so much better if the world it took place in wasn’t as “clean” looking. It’s generally one of two things I judge most sword and sorcery flicks by, at least the low-budget ones. The 14th century was not a “clean” place. What I’m trying to say is what Mythica gets right is the realist feel of their world, from locations to costumes to weapons, it all feels authentic to that time period. The Book Of Vile Darkness looks too “shallow” in these departments, too clean, too comic-bookish almost and that’s not what you want from a sword and sorcery flick, at least not what I want.
The next thing Mythica gets right are the CGI monsters. There’s only three, four technically, except for a couple of quick snippets the giant spiders (2-3 feet) were mostly practicical. Of the CGI created were the aforementioned Ogre, a Lord Of The Rings warg-type wolf and a giant cobra Marek conjures from a fire to scare some orcs. Thank God for the SyFy channel’s shitty monster movies because now I have something to judge certain CGI creations against. Had Mythica’s monsters looked as bad as SyFy’s creature features I would not have even reviewed the movie. I would’ve shut it off the moment I saw the first shitty CGI creation and never looked back. Mythica’s makers were smart though when employing their CGI critters. They’re not big budget perfect, but they move in the right way and look integrated well into the environment. SyFy’s mentality is show more, if they showed less and showed it at the right moments they’d have enough money to make their creatures look real enough. Which leads me into the main reason Mythica didn’t initially wow me.
Thanks to Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies we’ve all been spoiled. With big budget money those Tolkien adaptations are oozing with fantasy landscapes and monsters, as they should be, I just wish Mythica was a bit more like that, but I do understand it’s a low-budget movie so in no way could it ever be like that. Unfortunately knowing that still didn’t alleviate my ho-hum feeling towards it.
But there was an unexpected upside, which is why I urge anyone who wants to see this movie to get the ‘Deluxe Package.’ That version gets you an almost half hour behind-the-scenes documentary. This has happened to me before while reviewing a movie where the trailer wowed me more than the movie itself. In those other cases there was also extra features, and even commentaries, included. Had there not have been, my initial assessment of them would have remained unchanged, but once I saw all the hard work that went into making those flicks, and the intentions of what they were to be, it actually swayed my opinion. I actually looked at the movies differently and liked them more.
After seeing Mythica I was not prepared to add it to my collection (it’s a vast DVD collection too and I even have two shelves categorized specially for sword and sorcery epics, big and small), then just an hour ago I watched the doc and found myself liking it more now. One of the main reasons I now intend to add it my collection is because there are two more Mythica movies planned: Mythica: The Darkspore and Mythica: The Necromancer. Once I see those two pending movies then I can judge the first one better. If the characters, stories, fantasy elements, if those all evolve from movie to movie ala the Star Wars trilogy (chapters III-V) then my lackluster feelings towards it will be deemed unfounded. Remember Star Wars (1977) how it all started? By the time we got to the Return Of The Jedi that first film feels so “small” almost. I think about all the characters were in Star Wars, and the story, and by the time Jedi rolls around Luke and the others have grown significantly and the “big picture” their living and moving towards has grown equally well along with them. Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings and his Hobbit trilogies have done this expertly too, and I want this for Mythica as well. I do know Mythica’s next chapter has a dragon in it, so I’m expecting big things to come of it, no pun intended.
I forgot to mention the effects for the orcs, the practical effects, look as good as any major motion picture.
As far as I can tell Mythica isn’t available on Amazon or anywhere else I can find. If you want the DVD of it, either the Deluxe Version or the regular one, you can only find it on Arrowstorm Entertainment’s site. If you’re UK based you can find it on Amazon.co.uk as a DVD only. And if you really desire a blu-ray of it there’s a German edition in existence. As of right now no US blu-ray exists.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1.85:1 widescreen—5.1 English Dolby Digital—No subtitles
I didn’t have a problem with either the video or the audio, both looked and sounded fine.
Extras on the Deluxe Edition include…
- Behind The Scene (28:06)
- Trailers (other Arrowstorm titles)
- Music Video (“I’ll Be There—Theme Song From Mythica)
As previously mentioned the behind the scenes helped me like this film enough to get it into my collection and I found it interesting that Jason Faller (producer/writer) mentioned the influences for this movie were “…from the world of role playing games and video gaming…” Without saying it I think he pretty much confirmed D&D was one of the inspirations for this movie and this franchise, and, I’ll be honest, that was pretty much the clincher for me in changing my mind.
I cannot stand the cold. Winter and Fall are not my favorite seasons. They were when I was a kid, not so much anymore at the age of 46, so movies set in cold climates push my buttons. As in when characters are showing how cold it is through their breath and maybe not wearing something appropriately warm, I can just feel their discomfort like some kind of celluloid osmosis. That happened in this movie and I could feel it again when the filmmakers spoke of filming in -14 degrees in the Utah landscape.
You can also find Mythica on Facebook and the sequel The Darkspore is still hoping to raise more money on their kickstater page. Looks like the goal was $75,000 and they now have $81,000. And from what I read on that page Mythica isn’t ending with the third movie.