We have an Asylum film which manages to pull off the rare “double misleading title” trick. It’s only a clash of empires if you think a few dozen guys hanging around a clearing is an “Empire”; and its European title, “Lord of the Elves”, is even more misleading, as there are no elves in it, nor anyone who could be called anyone’s “lord”.
This is, astonishingly, the Asylum’s mockbuster for the first Hobbit movie. It’s so strange that I’m not sure whether to be offended by it or not. It’s set 12,000 years ago, in Indonesia, and is the tale of a family journeying across unfamiliar terrain in order to rescue the mother, who was kidnapped by the Rock People and their giant flying lizards. On their way, they get help from “Giants”, teach hunting tactics and encounter super-massive creatures. Sounds okay, right?
Firstly, I want to apologise unreservedly if I use a term which offends any group. I’m really not sure what word to use, so I’m just going to go for it. The “hobbits” (called that in the film’s promotional material, and in the film’s original title which they had to be sued to change) are real pygmies. They’ve either found a heck of a lot of ’em at a casting agency or just found a few tribes and persuaded them, and it’s damn sure they didn’t have the luxury of picking pygmies who could act, it was just a matter of ones who were prepared to be filmed. The acting is extraordinarily awful, some level below just about every film I’ve ever seen – the feeling that someone somewhere was being exploited left a slightly bad taste in my mouth.
The two people you’re likely to recognise are Christopher Judge (from Stargate SG-1) and Bai Ling (from Crank 2 and TMZ, probably). They’re “giants”, although our little heroes call them “human”, which is a charming way to look at it. They help the pygmies get across the plain to the mountains where their mother and other people from their village are being held. The Rock People all have fake sharp teeth and are cannibals, but the Giants have sort of an agreement with them so they won’t help the Tree People (the pygmies)…it’s all a mess.
The story, such as it is, is not terrible. I mean, it’s completely formulaic but formulas work; it’s the stuff that doesn’t work which dominates, though. The giant monster special effects are poor, even by Asylum standards, and there’s the acting. With the honourable exception of Judge, who manages to keep a straight face throughout the most ludicrous dialogue, everyone else is worse than the worst amateur dramatics group you’ve ever seen. Not only are they all dubbed (even though some of them appear from their mouths to be speaking English), but they’re dubbed by people who can’t act either; plus they gesticulate like crazy and cackle…it’s actually embarrassing in places.
This is really strange. I feel like maybe the Asylum are on some epic trolling of the entire world, to see what’s the weirdest thing they can release, associate with something famous and make a measly profit from. I find I have a great deal less appreciation for their garbage than I used to, now I’ve discovered their sub-par safety standards and overuse of unpaid internships to cut costs. Even so, this film is a very rare example of an American-funded and –released film that has an almost entirely non-white cast. There’s a possible Caucasian in there, but fewer than the average Tyler Perry film…while that is undoubtedly an interesting factoid, it doesn’t redeem the film. Avoid at all costs.
Rating: thumbs down