When exiled dark elf Meyla comes into possession of doomy object of doom the Dark Crystal Gem, she uses its power to resurrect dead warriors as wraiths and kidnap her sister Mayre the elf queen in order to steal the Life Gem and attain absolute power. Attempting to stop her are generic YA hero Fish and his elven princess love Liya, along with a band of assorted fantasy stereotypes.
Although Thrones of Elves is a sequel to Dragon Nest: Warriors’ Dawn (which was itself based on MMO Dragon Nest), it’s not necessary to be in any way familiar with either property, partly because the film deems no more backstory to be necessary than “we killed a dragon and fell in love,” and also because the film’s plot is so flimsy it requires very little concentration to come into it cold.
Fish’s cocksure arrogance is meant to be endearing, and while his every movement alternating between swaggering and posing is admittedly somewhat amusing to begin with, he swiftly becomes an obnoxious irritant and a frustration that he’s supposed to be the relatable hero. Liya behaves like a princess straight from an ‘80s fantasy movie, her characterisation ignoring the developments that have been made in the representation of gender roles in the intervening decades, voicing a desire to live her life free of rules but displaying little of the sense of responsibility necessary to actually do so. Other supporting characters, such as a burly barbarian, a Scottish dwarf blacksmith and an aloof elf warrior, are all so archetypal they barely warrant mention, and it speaks volumes that the most interesting of the ensemble are Fish’s pair of spherical furry pets who look like a cross between puppies and tribbles.
It’s a good 20 minutes before anything noteworthy actually happens, the preceding time spent laboriously introducing these characters who have the combined depth of an evaporating puddle. When things properly kick off, the lengthy scenes of luscious animation, set in detailed locations like the elven royal forest stronghold and Meyla’s mountain lair of a hollow stone dragon, do a moderate job in distracting from how little story there actually is. The action sequences, although unimaginatively choreographed, are a delight to watch, featuring skyship battles, slow motion archery, balletic swordplay and snaking ribbons of chromatic magical energy.
Visually luminous but narratively lacking, Throne of Elves is a visual delight and should be entertaining enough for the young audience at which it’s aimed, but older viewers will likely find its rudimentary and overfamiliar plot somewhat wanting.
Throne of Elves / Cert: TBA / Director: Yuefeng Song, Yi Ge / Screenplay: Ran Zhou, Christian Ford, Roger Soffer / Starring: Ryan Potter, Ashley Boettcher, Anika Noni Rose, Julie Nathanson, Kevin Michael Richardson, Enn Reitel, Gavin Hammon / Release Date: TBA