The Crown and the Dragon: The Paladin Cycle is part of a new wave of media. It originally began as a Kickstarter project, received its funding, then was released in all major streaming services. It is likely the shape of media to come as creators bypass the Hollywood machine to bring original visions directly to audiences via the Internet.
I’ll be honest with you. The movie starts off poorly. It is clearly low budget, and some of the acting is questionable. Visually, the setting is lovely as the entire movie was shot on location in Ireland.
However, there were odd music choices that affected the mood which I felt were incongruous with the setting. Also, the special effects were SyFy channel quality, so I was inclined to dislike The Crown and the Dragon: The Paladin Cycle, but it surprised me in the end. I’m glad I hung in there.
The story was told in two acts. Deira is an occupied country beset by a traitorous puppet king and corrupt bandits who care little for the fate of their country. The first part involved the journey to deliver a magical relic to a distant monastery. There, sisters of an ancient religion are waiting to perform the coronation for the paladin king who will free their country and defeat the dragon. This part is traditional in fantasy stories, but bored the stuffing out of me.
Elenn is the pampered noblewoman, played by Amy De Bhrún, and her hired mercenary, Aedin, was played by David Haydn. (Curiously, the main characters don’t get top billing for the production.) For the first half of The Crown and the Dragon: The Paladin Cycle, Elenn was a whiny brat and Aedin was a smug rogue. There were a great deal of tropes and clichés. Aedin saves Elenn from ruffians. He saves her from evil bat beings. In between they have inane arguments which I think were supposed to be sexual tension, then he saves her some more.
I was about to bail when the second act began. This second part is so vastly different than the first part I wonder if it had a different script or director. They arrived at the monastery where we learn who is the fated paladin of ancient lore.
At this point, Elenn stopped being a stereotypical snob who needed to be humbled by a roguish knight in muddy armor, and started to become a real character. The villains stopped being a ragtag band of evil baddies, but instead part of the new regime working against the prophecy, and the politics became more nuanced and complicated.
The unrightful ruler was an opportunist who started to see that he had made a bad deal for his country. Characters developed, plot thickened, events finally felt linked together. The Crown and the Dragon: The Paladin Cycle became interesting. Although Elenn reprised the role of damsel in distress through most of the film, she did improve greatly over time and helped provide a satisfying ending. Her character grew in confidence and skill, and I ended up liking her.
Release Date: August 12, 2014 (USA)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (mead was consumed with enthusiasm)
Language: 1 (mild)
Nudity: 2 (suggestive camera work of bare skin, side boob)
Sexuality: 0 (LOL)
Violence: 2 (death, sword play, battles, blood, contests to the death)