Throne of Elves
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (12th November 2017).
The Film

"Throne of Elves" <精灵王座> (2016)

After years of war and devastation, peace returns to the mythical land of Altera. The human hero of the war, Fish (voiced by Ryan Potter), finally reunites with his true love, the beautiful Elf girl Liya (voiced by Ashley Boettcher), at the grand wedding of Elf Princess Maywe (voiced by Julie Nathanson) much to the displeasure of those closest to them. The prospect of a union between human and elf is quickly overshadowed by news of the Princess' bitter rival, Dark Elf Melya's (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) discovery of the dangerous and powerful Black Dragon gem. A gem so powerful it allows its holder complete authority over the peaceful citizens of Altera. Soon after this discovery, Melya kidnaps Princess Maywe holding her prisoner as she sets about her evil plans. So begins an epic quest as Fish and Liya don their weapons and team up with a roguish band of heroes in a battle between humans and beasts, good and evil and love and hatred to, once and for all, restore peace to Altera.

"Throne of Elves" is the sequel film to the Chinese 3D animated feature "Dragon Nest: Warrior's Dawn" (2014), which was a spinoff from the South Korean developed "Dragon Nest" video game. While the 2014 film was distributed by Universal Pictures outside of China in many territories including English localization, the film was not a major success around the world. Confusion may set in for English audiences watching the first and second films. First off the "Dragon Nest" title has been dropped for the English localization of the sequel, yet the characters and the world remain. Another major issue is that the English localization team for the sequel decided to retranslate the names of the characters. "Lambert" in the first film is called "Fish" in the sequel. "Elena" is changed to "Meyla", "Nerwin" is changed to "Mayre", etc. Although "Liya" remained from the original. Consistency is thrown out, though it is fairly easy to get into the story as the opening montage explains quickly about the relationship between humans and elves and with Fish and Liya. What follows is sadly a very generic piece of epic adventure fantasy, taking cues from many video games and films from the past and rolled into one.

"The Legend of Zelda", "The Lord of the Rings", "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind", "Princess Mononoke", "Epic", "Maleficent", etc. have all come prior to "Throne of Elves" and have done a much better job in telling the story and setting up the world. Princess getting kidnapped, a magical world of humans and elves, exotic flying machines, and a battle between good and evil. Many extraordinary tales have been written with these elements and many have been made into video games and cinema. But "Throne of Elves" keeps things fairly safe and stale. It begs to have more originality and sadly that does not come to fruition, with the storytelling, or with the characterizations. It does feel more like grinding through a video game which should not be a surprise due to the video game source material, and as it is a video game based film make it no surprise that the 3D animation all seem like cutscenes from a game rather than a movie. Skin textures are flat, walking movements are still, and some shots even seem to be possibly incomplete in texture grading or shading, possibly due to the budget constraints. Compared to the Hollywood standards of Pixar or DreamWorks Animation, "Throne of Elves" does look significantly weaker. Children may have some interest but some of the action may be too much, while older audiences might not be so excited with the average storytelling that they have heard before. One may suggest playing one of the video games instead.

The film was theatrically released in China on August 19th, 2016 in both 3D and 2D versions. This Umbrella Entertainment DVD release from Australia is the first English friendly version of the film to be released on home video.

Note this is a region 0 NTSC DVD which can play back on any DVD or Blu-ray player worldwide

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement in the NTSC format. Considering it is a fairly recent film and animated with 3D CG animation, one should expect it to look very good. Colors are bright, details are crisp, though black levels seem to be slightly high and darker scenes tend to feel lighter than they should. While the film was projected in 3D theatrically, no gimmicky 3D scenes were there but I'm sure many of the lighting effects and battle scenes would have taken advantage of the extra dimension. Again the animation can look top notch in some scenes, but most of the time the texturing and the movements seem closer to the video games rather than a modern 3D CG animation. Overall it is a fair transfer, but nothing groundbreaking.

The film runs 98:35.
Screenshots are as follows:















Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
The English dub track is presented in 5.1. The first major issue is that this does not come with the original Mandarin language track and only the dubbed version. Lips are synchronized to the Mandarin version so there are significant mouthing issues with the English language track and in closeups very noticeable. In addition there were some obvious puns and sight gags that just wasn't translated with proper care, or was hard to translate altogether, leaving some awkward scenes for the English version. In addition, the English track is not entirely English. All the songs including the theme songs, the wedding song, etc. are the original Mandarin songs undubbed. The modern Chinese pop songs are not too distracting but it does seem strange when the soaring vocals are suddenly in Mandarin Chinese. On the positive side the dialogue is well balanced and easy to understand, the surround channels are actively used for the music and the battles, and there is no issue with audio dropouts or errors.

There are no subtitles for the feature.

Extras

Sadly no extras have been provided. Not even the trailer.

Packaging

The packaging states that this is a "region 4" disc but is in fact region 0.

Overall

"Throne of Elves" probably stuck better as just a video game, and is yet another video game to movie adaptation that doesn't quite cut it. There are too many cliches to make it original and the animation quality is more about the dazzle and spectacle rather than strong characters or plot. The Umbrella Entertainment release has good video and audio, though it has no extras and is lacking the original Mandarin audio track, which makes it difficult to recommend.

The Film: C- Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: F- Overall: C-

 


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