Mythica: The Darkspore [Movie Review]
(Editor’s Note: While the editors of Utah Geek Magazine do not necessarily agree or disagree with this review, we do believe the movie is well worth watching, and we believe in supporting our local filmmakers. Watch it for free on ConTV.)
Shot back-to-back with Mythica: A Quest for Heroes, director Anne K. Black returns with Mythica: The Darkspore, the second in a planned fantasy trilogy. While a hefty list of screenwriters including Black, Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin, Liska Ostojic, and Justin Partridge attempt to tell a broader, more epic story than in the first film, The Darkspore still slogs through the swamp of fantasy cliché. Every surprising character moment seems to be countered by the overfamiliarity of orcs and dragons, and the plot never rises above its episodic nature.
The adventuring group of fledgling wizard Marek (Melanie Stone), thief Dagen (Jake Stormoen), soldier Thane (Adam Johnson), and priestess Teela (Nicola Posener) find themselves separated at the start of the film, as Teela mourns the death of her sister, and Thane mourns love interest Teela’s departure. They quickly reteam when Marek’s mentor Gojun Pye (Kevin Sorbo) tells her that Kishkumen (Kee Chan), a servant of the powerful necromancer Szorloc, is attempting to locate the four pieces of the Darkspore, an artifact of predictably immense evil. Along the way, the group encounters a mysterious dark elf, Qole (Rocky Myers), who adds to budding mistrust among the friends as Marek struggles to keep her own necromantic powers under control.
The technical aspects of The Darkspore are something of a disappointment after some promising work in A Quest for Heroes. Black inserts a couple romances into the film, following up on Teela and Thane’s attraction in the first film and adding the character of Qole for Marek, but her action work is less assured here. Fight scenes, and the plot in general, have a muddled feel, and the effects work in some scenes appears to have been rushed. Costumes and props remain good, and there is evidence of an increased budget, but the film actually seems less polished overall than its predecessor.
Ultimately, though, it is the failure to go beyond the tropes of fantasy games that continues to dog this trilogy. Most of the characters are strictly archetypal, as are the settings and events of the story. While some of this is no doubt intentional, per production company Arrowstorm‘s focus on the genre audience, there may be some underestimation of their market. The character of Marek breaks the mold, her struggle against darkness, her physical handicap, and even her gender standing out amid a glut of independent fantasy film heroes. Whether due to creativity ebbs or a calculated design to fit in, The Darkspore is a bit tired, and Black and company need to take more chances on elements like Marek in the third film.
UGeek Rating: 3/10
Note: This film premiered at the 2015 FilmQuest film festival, which took place June 18-27 in Salt Lake City. Check it out!