Dark Relic Review

I’m going to lead with the fact that Dark Relic been let down by less than low budget CGI, but the overall premise has a lot of potential and the story really does help contribute to make it a worthwhile watch.

The film’s story leads on how a group of crusaders venture home after acquiring a holy relic, a piece of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Adamant to return it to Rome as a gift to his holiness, their journey is constantly hindered by unnatural events and after a turn of unexpected circumstances, former foes join as allies and lend an aid in their quest from the holy land. Uniting with a Turkish warrior, his wife and their companion, the war torn crusaders face the demons which track the holy relic, causing misadventure at every turn.

When written down as an idea to pitch to producers’, it’s a fantastic story. It has the plot twists needed to shake those who thought the end and salvation would be near. It has the questionable morality to turn heads, as the soldiers debate about whose God is the one to believe and even questions religion and the crusades overall. It has people previously seen as enemies turn to loved battle brothers, and a tale of love is on set to help pull on the strings and give our hero a reason to fight.

However it feels as though the writers then left the production team entirely and the film falls into disarray. Thankfully the sets, props and enthusiastic acting lead this to be a well thought out film with lots of potential. The choreography of the fight scenes lack the big screen expectations we naturally come to have nowadays, but are not found wanting in man-to-man duels, as actors throw themselves into the fray.

James Frain, most notably recognisable from his work in the Tudor series, takes a strong leading role in the film, and not only with his character. His voice gives a crisp clear cut to the movie’s requirement of ‘commanding figure’ and helps create a stalwart and comforting Knight. However his inclusion alone is not enough to make up for some, at times, rather terrible reaction shots from the other actors and some very peculiar pain yells. I’ll let you ponder on that last one.

For a film that feels like it needs a rather familiar “this was made by a multicultural team” disclaimer, it appears as though the film tries to branch out to all audiences but leaves the door open to be perceived as a little insensitive or rude to others.

Okay, after touching on some of the key points, I can only dance around this issue for so long, having touched upon it at the start. The computer generated images or ‘CGI’ to most of us modern kids, is sadly awful. Films in the early 90’s managed to pull off better works with less technology at their disposal. Subtle alterations with CGI can work well in low budget movies to account for what large spending cannot adequately supply. But Dark Relic clearly was created by those who believe it should be used in every scene. Without going into spoilers, it’s safe to say anything that requires more than sitting, moving, and talking by the actors, must have the back up of CGI. And when a film relies on it that heavily there should be more time invested into its post-production.

I’m aware most of my rant about this film is about the low quality CGI but I feel that its greatest weakness is unfortunately a rather prominent point, where in most cases it can be pushed to one side and dismissed for better acting and directional work in relation to the story. Dark Relic leaves you darkly disappointed. I would still recommend it for a giggle with your friends and as aforementioned, the story still holds good weight when you look at the broader picture of what the writers were initially trying to achieve. Perhaps one to watch only once then. Sadly I am not left as inspired by a film of this genre, as I am in most cases, which is to grab one of the many swords I decorate my house in and run around screaming like a barbarian. I just have an urge to play Baldur’s Gate in what would suddenly now look like really high resolution.


Dark Relic is released for DVD and Blu-Ray purchase on April 9th online and in stores.

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