Out now from Chelsea Films on DVD
Dragonslayer style ‘made for TV’ fantasy that’s not as bad as it sounds.
When this first came through the letterbox to review, I looked at the PR and thought: this is a bit like something I might see on the SyFy Channel. There’s a good reason for that… because it’s actually a SyFy Channel made for TV movie, in the vein of films like Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus and Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus and Mega Shark vs… well just about everything you can think of! The difference this time is the Middle Ages setting, and the reference to that famous Lewis Carroll poem (actually quoted in the movie, despite being written in the late 1800s). Having said all that, this is entertaining enough fare, though you’ll probably need to be as brave as those facing the Jabberwock to get through some of it.
We kick off with two travellers making their way through the ‘Bad Lands’ (why do people always go through places with names like that?) and witnessing the rebirth of the winged menace known as the Jabberwock – after a lightning strike hits some random egg and the beast grows from baby to fully grown in a matter of moments.
Cut to a nearby village where squire Alec (Michael Worth) has been summoned home by his blacksmith brother Francis (Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse’s Tahmoh Penikett) because their father is so ill. When the one surviving traveller Cid (Raffaello Degruttola) arrives, though, he brings the creature with him and it promptly snatches up a damsel now in serious distress. Francis and some of the others go after the Jabberwock, leaving Alec behind with childhood sweetheart Anabel (Kacey Barnfield from Resident Evil: Afterlife). But you just know that a face-off is coming between Alec and the monster before too long…
Although much of this film betrays its small screen origins, it’s actually pretty well acted for the most part and I’ve definitely seen worse CG effects. There’s also an interesting back-story in the form of the siblings’ rivalry and a suit of armour the father was attempting to finish (which makes the wearer look like Gary Oldman when he was playing Vlad the Impaler in Dracula). Steven R. Monroe, who directed the remake of I Spit on Your Grave, keeps the whole thing ticking along at a reasonable pace, and if you can ignore some of the sillier moments – such as people climbing up the side of a mountain to fight the Jabberwock (look Ma, no hands) and the weather changing from Spring to snowy Winter suddenly – then it’s actually surprisingly enjoyable. But with shows like Game of Thrones currently impressing all and sundry, the bar’s being set quite high at the moment for fantasy on TV and in the cinema.
Low budget fantasy that’s decent enough, but definitely of its kind 6/10