Movie Review: Mythica: The Darkspore

As promised, here is my review of Mythica: The Darkspore, the second movie in Arrowstorm Entertainment’s Mythica series. Full disclosure, I did back Mythica 2 on Kickstarter, as I did the first movie in the series. As I mentioned in my previous review, I don’t intend to make straight-up movie reviews a regular thing here, but I find it appropriate and worthwhile to review movies I contributed to (though I may also review a couple of Arrowstorm’s movies which I purchased after I was impressed by Mythica: A Quest For Heroes.

I won’t go into too much background detail here, as this is a review of a sequel and I covered all the basics in my previous review, but I’ll touch on some here. Mythica: The Darkspore, is the second of 5 planned movies in Arrowstorm’s Mythica series, and at least 3 of them have already been filmed. The films are all low budget projects, as Arrostorm is an independent film company, and the Kickstarters they run are to raise additional money with which to finish the projects that are already started, and it goes to things like visual effects. But that’s enough of that; for more background detail see my review of the first Mythica.

Now, on to the movie at hand. To put it very briefly, I am pleased to say that it is definitely superior to the first Mythica. Now, I do take some issue in general with calling a sequel an ‘improvement’ over the original, or ‘superior’, as that would imply that the prior film was subpar. As my review of the first Mythica makes clear, I did not find it subpar at all.  Not perfect, but a very solid movie. Its sequel, however, was an improvement in the area where I felt the first film was a little bit weaker.

So, in Mythica: The Darkspore, we continue almost immediately after the conclusion of the first film. With tragedy. At the end of the first movie, the magical object our group of heroes recovered was given to the sister of the priestess Teela (Nicola Posener) to carry to where it could be safely contained and protected. Unfortunately, the forces of darkness were faster, and she was killed, the relic taken. And while the group does soon find leads by which they can race the evil shaman Kishkumen, who was the one who killed Teela’s sister, to the titular Darkspore, they also have to work at staying united as a group. In fact, in the beginning of the movie they practically have to reform the group, or rather Marek (Melanie Stone) does, as with the shock Teela’s sister’s death, the other members of the party started to regress to past ways. Teela secluded herself to conduct an elaborate mourning ritual for her sister, the warrior Thane (Adam Johnson), depressed at Teela’s sadness, has returned to his drinking ways and almost drives Marek away in a drunken rant, and the half-elf rogue Dagen (Jake Stormoen) returns to his whoring ways, and becomes more fixated on monetary gain (though I suppose that he never really lost that particular drive.)

From there, the driving force of the movie is the group’s attempt to reach the darkspore before their enemies, and along the way the encounter a number of obstacles, gain a new ally, and work through their issues with each other. I don’t want to get into too much detail, as I don’t like spoiling movies, so I’m going to be intentionally vague in referring to anything spoilery. Suffice to say, I thought the story was a definite step up from that of the first Mythica, which was very simple (by design, as it is in essence the origin story). There’s a lot more depth here, as we get some backstory and the larger plot of the series gets rolling. We also get more character development and depth, which is welcome; if everyone had sorted through all their problems, etc. last movie then they’d all be pretty stagnant for the rest of the series.

Once again, the acting was excellent. Everyone really seems to have a good sense of their character, and they all treat the material seriously, with no one ‘phoning in’ performances, and the dramatic scenes & arguments never seem forced or melodramatic. In particular, Melanie Stone as Marek stands out, and handles the character’s development very well, and newcomer Rocky Myers as the mysterious dark elf Qole. The character could easily have felt mysterious and enigmatic for the sake of being mysterious, but he manages to take the character beyond the simple character traits and handles the dramatic turns that involve his character very well. I’ll also mention that we get a bit more of Kevin Sorbo as the wizard Gojun Pye this time around than we did in Mythica: A Quest For Heroes. He is still only in the film for a short period (I suppose his being a main character would make things a bit too easy for our heroes), but in addition to his small scene in the present we get a nice flashback to his past, and a little action. (Thanks to the first Mythica, I decided to start watching the tv show Andromeda, which starred Sorbo, and I’m enjoying it so far. It’s also striking that he doesn’t seem to have changed at all in the 10 years since then. Looking forward to seeing more of him as the Mythica series progresses.

As before, the visual effects are as good as you can reasonably expect from a low budget film. The sets and the backgrounds, the vast majority of which were not green-screened in, are great. Once again, the varied, beautiful Utah landscapes are used well, and I expect we’ll see more of the state as the series continues.

Beyond that, I actually don’t have too much more to say. My main (really only) critique of the first film in this series was that the story was edging on being overly simplistic and formulaic. That’s much less of an issue for me in this film, though the Mythica world is understandably not as complex as those in epic fantasy novels. The story, having gotten past the necessary origins and getting the team (or party, to borrow an RPG term), has moved onto the more complex, larger plot, and while only time will tell how much it stands out from other fantasy stories, so far it looks good, and I look forward to seeing where it goes. (Since watching the first film I’ve also had my first RPG experience, so I have more understanding of the Dungeons & Dragons background that the Mythica world and story grew out of.

That’s about it for now, I think. I definitely recommend checking out Mythica: The Darkspore, as well as its predecessor Mythica: A Quest For Heroes. Arrowstorm’s website, has links through which you can rent or purchase their films. They don’t have any kickstarter campaigns going on right now to the best of my knowledge, but I imagine that the kickstarter for the third film in the series will go up in the coming months. I’m proud to have contributed to both Mythica films this far, and if this is the kind of thing you want to see more of, I’d recommend considering lending your support as well.

Coming up in the near future, I have one more book to review, as well as two more of Arrowstorm’s earlier films which I purchased, and I hope to get another writing-centric post up in the near future. So until next time, keep on reading and writing, and if you like the idea of quality independent fantasy films, consider supporting Arrowstorm Entertainment in the future. You can be sure that whenever the kickstarter for Mythica 3 begins, I’ll lend support and mention it on my Twitter, so if you happen to follow me there you’ll know when something’s going on.

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