“The Crown And The Dragon” is the second Kickstartered film we’ve covered on this site – the first being the truly rotten “Zombie Hunter”. The trend is for films which are already mostly / entirely finished to raise money this way, presumably to offset the piracy which has hugely affected the profit of low-budget cinema. So it might seem a bit cheeky, but we all only have ourselves to blame. Or maybe these films didn’t deserve to get made in the first place?
There’s prophecies, and dragons, and beautiful maidens, and all that good stuff. There’s a MacGuffin in the shape of Artifact X, a horn which can kill dragons; the film takes place in the kingdom of Deira, a backwater of the Vitalion Empire – filmed in Ireland, which looks fantastic and does a lot of the heavy lifting for the film itself. But I digress.
Elenn, a beautiful but snooty young noblewoman, is helping her Aunt deliver half the magic horn to a secret coronation of some bloke who’s going to save the Deiran people. The aunt dies but Elenn hires Aedin, a smuggler, to take her the rest of the way. There is absolutely no chemistry between the two of them, but unless you’re very new to fiction, you’ll be able to figure out exactly where their relationship is going.
You’ll also be able to figure out the entirety of the plot, pretty much. So, a lot of your enjoyment of this will depend on how much you like completely predictable sword-and-sorcery films, and if you do then you’re probably going to be able to ignore a lot of the other stuff I’m going to talk about. But I can’t! If I was all “yeah, it’s alright if you’re into that sort of thing” I wouldn’t get paid the big reviewing bucks (earnings so far: £0).
It feels like the second episode of a TV series. Everyone is really bothered about stuff which we don’t know about, like succession and land and magic. I wasn’t all that surprised that it’s a sequel to a film called “Dawn of the Dragonslayer”, part of the “Paladin” cycle apparently (although they share few / no cast members). Perhaps I ought to have watched that first?
The main problem with this film is a complete lack of attention to detail. I’ll give low-budget films a lot of leeway, but when you have a character get dunked in mud, who walks around filthy for a few minutes, then in the next scene is clean again, then the scene after that dirty, then clean, you have to wonder if anyone watched this between the first edit and its release.
The scenery appears to come at random, too – so they’ll be walking through a forest then they’re on a beach then on a long moor then back to a beach. For all I know, that may have been the effect they were going for, but it’s a bit on the offputting side; plus, the music never really matches the action on screen, either, except for one or two brief comedic scenes. Elenn is to become the dragon-slaying paladin, and they make a bit of fuss of her being halfway through the spell, needing help, etc…unless they left her completing the process on the cutting room floor, I’m stumped as to what happened.
Talking of comedy, this film tries to insert a bit of levity from time to time, giving most of these scenes to Elenn, played by Amy De Bhrun. She’s the strong link of the cast, without a doubt, and has a great look for a fantasy princess, but she’s not enough to make up for everyone else. The camera also seems to really like her, and my best guess was that someone involved in the making of this was desperate to see her naked, but De Bhrun kept refusing. She’s in a few love scenes, has to take off her clothes to dry them, and at one point is part of some ritual where she has to have symbols drawn on her naked body. Apologies if I’m misrepresenting anyone here, but you watch it and tell me what your take on it is.
Another aspect of no-one really checking on filming too much is the repeated use of open doors to drive the plot along. Elenn is getting a bath and Aedin happens to be walking past and gets a full frontal view; several plans are overheard because people insist on having secret conversations with the door wide open. Perhaps, as the old saying goes, they all were born in a barn. My review notes were a little less kind – “learn to close a door you idiots” was what I wrote.
What you expect to be the big ending of the film – the thing they were on their way to do when the film started – isn’t, as the film ends before that happens. Odd choice, I suppose, even if they try to cover for it.
This film isn’t terrible. It’s mostly shot beautifully, and the crow-monster-thing is genuinely great and quite frightening. The cast try their hardest, even if there’s a few charisma vacuums among them. It’s just let down time and again by its production. The terribly predictable story, the enormous and easily preventable continuity errors, the non-ending…these are all things that have nothing to do with the budget of the film.
Rating: thumbs down