04th Apr2012

‘Dark Relic’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: James Frain, Clemency Burton-Hill, Tom Basden, Alyy Khan, Samuel West | Written by Andy Briggs | Directed by Lorenzo Sena

When a film starts and you see “Syfy” it’s often that moment that you start to sigh. These films are often CGI fests with weak stories, the kind of thing you would watch late at night and rarely like. There are times though that this is not the case, that the film is actually good. When I started watching Dark Relic I had little hope.

The story is quite interesting; this is the first good sign. When the first of the Crusades in the Holy Land ended it was a time for the knights to head home. This is what Sir Gregory intends to do. He and his men discover a holy relic, a fragment of the Holy Cross which was said to have been the one that Jesus was crucified on. They intend to take it back to present the relic to the Pope as a gift. This is when things start going wrong for them. Food is made uneatable on the boats they use to travel on, fresh water is turned to sea water, and it seems that wherever they go they are cursed. Sir Gregory and his knights must make it back to the pope, fighting an ancient evil that wants one thing, the relic they now hold.

The first thing that hits this film is the CGI. This is a shame really because done smartly they could have created something very different and a lot more intelligent. What they do instead is create demon like characters that battle with the knights throughout the film to capture the relic itself. These battles are not bad, but it’s the problem of the poor CGI that gets in the way. I’d argue that if you are going to use this technology then at least do it good. The real shame is the CGI hampers what is a good story.

At some points the story does manage to shine through, in fact it kept me watching. Strangely for this type of film they have managed to create an interesting tale that will keep you watching, even if you find yourself constantly thinking how poor the CGI actually is. If you can look past the poor effects though it is really worth a watch. The acting is adequate enough to tell the story and some of the actors are actually recognisable. James Frain for example has been seen in shows like Burn Notice, True Blood, The Mentalist and some of the CSI shows. He’s also had parts in films like TRON:Legacy and looking to his future he’s set to star in the Lone Ranger so he’s quite a big star when it comes to films such as this. This along with the strong story at least makes this a watchable film.

It’s hard to be positive about a lot of these types of films because in the end they are done for cheap and often to fill in the Syfy TV schedule. Or that’s what it often feels like anyway. With Dark Relic it’s at least pleasing to see that the story can actually shine through the bad effects and because quite interesting. It’s just a shame that the over reliance of CGI does affect the overall entertainment value. This of course is my point of view and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that love badly made films that look poor due to the effects used. I try to look past them and look for a good story, which I will admit I found with this one.

Dark Relic is released on DVD on April 9th, courtesy of Koch Media.

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