Friday, February 26, 2016

Voyage of the Unicorn (2001)


      Who doesn't love a good fantasy adventure film? There are many examples but these are what come to mind first: Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. These outstanding six films have everything in them ranging from armies of orcs to the thrill of an epic journey. Mythical beings live amongst each other in a world so otherworldly that it parallels ours by a small fraction. Twists and turns lie in wait for our heroes to overcome plus not to mention the feeling of being there alongside them. There are many others that go alongside Jackson's films in this genre such as The Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, and MirrorMask. The Voyage of the Unicorn is also one of these films but there's an interesting catch. It came in the form of a television miniseries such as Dinotopia, or The Odyssey. Also not to mention this film, alongside the other two examples; are also based off books. The Voyage of the Unicorn is based off the novel written by James C. Christensen titled Voyage of the Basset. The film centers around a widowed university professor (Beau Bridges) and his two daughters (Chantal Conlin and Heather McEwen) who travel into a magical world to save it from the forces of darkness.

    The film stars Beau Bridges (older brother of Jeff Bridges) as Professor Alan Aisling, a man who still believes in dragons and unicorns within a world that denies them. His two daughters, Cassie (Conlin) and Miranda (McEwen) have their different views on the subject but they all end up believing in the end. Alongside them on the magical ship known as the Unicorn, they are joined by several other mythical beings on their quest to fulfill a prophecy. The dwarf Malachi (Colin Heath) and the elf Sebastian (Kristian Ayre) sail the massive Unicorn through the seas in both the magical and real world. The mighty Minotaur (Mark Gibbon) joins the crew as the team's strongman and Cassie's protector. The beautiful but deadly Medusa (Kira Clavell) joins them as well. Not to mention the King and Queen of the fairies (Oberon and Titania; Markus Parilo and Ocean Hellman) guide them on their quest alongside the assistance of a Sphinx (Kim Hawthorne), and an ogre (C. Ernst Harth). On the side of darkness though, there stands the dreaded but clumsy Skotos (Mackenzie Gray) the troll. He's also accompanied by his two lackeys Cratch (John DeSantis) and Mog (Adrien Dorval). Aside from this amazing cast, there's a poorly animated dragon and a horn-glued-on-the-top-of-the-head unicorn (just like the one from Legend). 

     First off I like to say the make-up effects were phenomenal in this film. Even for a low/medium budget television miniseries it was really good. From the trolls to the fairies, they had the lifelike feeling to them that even today's big budget films could barely grasp without the aid of computer generated software. I personally enjoyed the atmosphere had to offer with the sense of adventure and a feeling of freedom. The scenes on the boat were truly remarkable especially when you discover its just like the TARDIS. Once you entered below deck, you discover that the ship is even bigger on the inside with an entire library plus more. Even though the film was heavily aimed for younger audiences (mainly feminine), it did have great fighting sequences amongst the forces of good and evil. Lets face it, out of everyone Malachi and Miranda were the most badass fighters in the entire film. The character development in the film was quite enjoyable especially for the villain Skotos. When first introduced, he had the usual villainous personality: cunning, sinister, and dastardly; until later you discover him more of a lovable buffoon. We're talking about a troll who fell down a flank of stairs. My only complaint though was the dragon's design. It was the weirdest dragon I've ever seen in film but, it wasn't horrible. The computer animated dragon (likely the only thing that was composed fully from CGI) seemed as though it leap off the screen from Dinotopia or other television movies. Kinda wished they used more of a puppeteer type approach for the dragon though (but at least the sea serpent on the other hand wasn't all bad).   
     Even though I used the word 'feminine' earlier to describe what type of audience would enjoy the film, I would like to point out that I'm using the term loosely. I for one enjoyed the film especially when I was younger. The use of unicorns, fairies, princesses, and powering women were heavily used throughout Voyage of the Unicorn but it also offered more to it.  The film was aimed for children and families unlike how the film Legend was aimed more toward teenagers. Though they both have violence in them, Voyage of the Unicorn had a more child friendly plot to keep it moving. Voyage of the Unicorn is indeed a family-friendly film that has a little bit of everything the entire family would enjoy. For example, I didn't like the fending off the sea serpent sequence but I did like the taming of the unicorn scene. Throughout the entire film, there are two scenes that I favored: when Cassie befriends the actually kindhearted Minotaur, and the final battle sequence with the rebirth of the dragon (video). 

    My rating for Voyage of the Unicorn is a 4 out of 5. The film is a must watch when you're viewing it as a family. Though to some it may seem girly since the boats named after an unicorn but, you must view it in a way that it affects your inner child. You must compare yourself to a few of the characters in order to fully understand how this film affects you. Imagination works best when you view fantasy adventure films such as this when you see a little bit of yourself within it. I for one enjoy mythology so I see myself truly enjoying this film even years from now. I'm not into unicorns similar to that of a five year old girl but, I'm still intrigued by the stories you hear about them. It goes for dragons and mermaids as well. Everybody has seen The Little Mermaid or DragonHeart since its based on mythological figures but, they still intrigue people even today. This film is a fantasy thrill ride since it follows stories that have been past down through the ages. Please, when you get the chance; watch the Voyage of the Unicorn  with your family. You never know, your uncle may be more like Skotos than the Minotaur. 

   "Crendendo Vides. By believing, one sees."

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