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Sword and Sorcery Movie Reviews

 I am going to take up a new project. I'm going to watch through all the sword and sorcery movies listed on the relevant Wikipedia page and review them here. I'll do this over a long period.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
 Alright, first review. I watched The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) tonight since my mom wanted to watch it. I'm allowing it for my project here since it came out before the first movie in the list and I see it as an appetizer in a way to the sword and sorcery genre.
 I think it's a very good movie. The acting and cinematography were on point, the costumes were well-made, the story was well-explained and felt complete without any loose ends (the movie ends on a grand high note), and the choreography in the combat scenes was dynamic and very enjoyable to watch. I especially enjoyed the banter between Little John and Friar Tuck. My favourite section was the final battle scene between Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbourne. The battle involved sword fighting, grappling, some usage of tables and chairs, and a fairly intense struggle for a dagger while in a clinch. Definitely one of the better on-screen battles I've watched. As for my complaints, there were moments in the movie where the sound mixing was a bit too loud, which made the dialogue sometimes hard to hear without raising the volume.
 With all that said, my rating for this movie is a solid 8/10.

The Iron Crown (1941)
 Awwwwrighty then! Second review! This time it's The Iron Crown (1941)! It's an Italian movie that, as per its wiki page, had a very large budget for the time and boy howdy did it show. Before I get into the review, let me just say that tracking down this movie with legible subtitles was tough! By sheer luck, I noticed that it was released on DVD in French multiple times, so I resolved to watch it with French subtitles. Vive la France, am I right!? Anyway, let's strap in for this review of La Couronne de fer!
 To start off, I'd like to talk about the setup to the story. For those who aren't familiar with the sword and sorcery genre, the story is above all the most important part of it. A good sword and sorcery film or piece of media will usually succeed in grabbing the audience by the reins and reeling them in with its story. Such was the case with this film! The film begins (and later continues) with a large book that is flipped through as the story unfolds, kind of like we, as the audience, are reading the story throughout the movie. I've seen a similar thing done in the early Elder Scrolls games and I personally really like this aesthetic choice.
 The story is very interesting to say the least. You have an antagonist who becomes king through fratricide, a protagonist who gets banished at a young age and is raised by lions in a valley, as well as a severely sheltered princess, a female rebellion leader who experiences a decent amount of character development throughout the movie, and a yarn-spinning forest hut-dwelling seer who periodically pokes fun at some of the characters. The cast is very diverse and the story development really pulls you in all the way until the end.
 As for the cinematography, I can't say it's the best. Shots are oftentimes cramped or too far from the actors and cuts are sometimes a bit too abrupt to be able to follow what's going on without doing a double take. I will say that the set pieces in the movie, such as the city of Kindaor and the royal palace, are well made and provide that grandiosity that is needed in this genre.
 The music, similar to Robin Hood, is well made. Orchestral and epic, the soundtrack to this movie gets the job done but not many songs stand out. Less of a source of distinct songs and moreso a pantry of condiments to go with whatever's happening in the current scene. Decent but nothing to write home about.
 Overall, I think I enjoyed this movie more than the Robin Hood one because of the presence of a magical macguffin and the strong theme of fate. Despite this, I believe Robin Hood and Iron Crown are equally good movies.
 Thus, I will give Iron Crown an 8/10. Enjoyable to watch but can sometimes be hard to follow.

Kaschei the Immortal (1944)
 Alright third review! This time it's Kaschei the Immortal (1944), a Russian film about a Russian folk hero named Nikita Kozhemyaka who saves his country from this evil tyrant wizard named Kaschei the Immortal. The film is a bit of a mixed bag and somewhat strange.
 To start, the first part of the film is more akin to a musical than much else. You have a few musical numbers from a Russian warrior, a Russian princess(?) named Marya, as well as from Nikita himself. The songs aren't all too bad but they end up being kind of repetitive and the lyrics aren't anything too complex.
 The story soon rears its head when Kaschei, the dastardly devil that he is, invades the village where Marya is and what soon follows is a vengeful trek by Nikita to defeat Kaschei and rescue Marya. We witness the Russian woodlands, an Arabian palace where we meet Nikita's right-hand man Bulat the Joker, and eventually Kaschei's stone-faced mountain fortress. This is definitely a step up from the Iron Crown's single setting but, with the larger quantity and the shorter run time, these locations are nothing more than background flavour to the unfolding events of the movie.
 The tail-end of the movie passes by somewhat sloppily with the pacing being seemingly jagged. There's a moment in the film where I could've sworn that there were scenes missing but, to my surprise, things were actually going as planned. The ending also didn't really impress me because of its strong overtones of patriotism and what is probably pro-Russian propaganda. Not quite my tempo if you will.
 As for the cinematography, it is mostly passable with some odd cuts here and there. What caught me by surprise was the various effects like lightning bolts, a ripple of water becoming a sort of magic mirror-type screen, and the antagonist's trademark spell (which I won't reveal here). Aside from all of this, there wasn't much else to write home about.
 I think the strongest aspect of this film was the soundtrack. Although the two previous entries in this series boasted orchestral scores that complemented the various scenes and action, this film was the first to really hit me with the grandiosity and impactful melodies I associate with the genre. The music throughout the film seems to be the main emphasis and I was able to spot a motif from the opening that was repeated during a climactic moment which definitely enhanced the vibe there. Despite all of my praise, no songs really stuck with me, so its a bit better than the others so far but not by much.
 Overall, I'd give this movie a 5/10. This may seem harsh considering my two previous scores but where the other two films left me satisfied with my experience, this one left me feeling confused and kind of silly.

The Magic Sword (1950)
 After a few days of rest, it's time for my fourth review! This time the movie is Cudotvorni Mac, or The Magic Sword (1950), a Yugoslav film based on Serbian folk tales. I couldn't find any version with English dubbing or subtitles, so I resigned myself to watching it as is. To my surprise, I was able to understand the story fairly easily despite the language barrier.
 The story, from what I understand, revolves around the main character, Nebojsa, who needs to rescue his kidnapped wife, Vida, from the iron-headed antagonist, Bas Celik. The caveat to this, is that Nebojsa actually inadvertently releases Bas from imprisonment as a child (we see this happen in the first ~15 minutes of the movie before a time-skip brings us to the present). In the present, we find out that both Nebojsa and another man, Gricko, are competing for Vida's hand in marriage. Vida ends up choosing Nebojsa and the two celebrate their wedding, during which a disgruntled Gricko runs into Bas and (I guess) ends up telling him about Vida. I guess Bas is looking for a bride since he and his men quickly crash the wedding and kidnap Vida, forcing Nebojsa to give chase to their nearby castle. He unfortunately gets captured almost immediately but then is let go for some reason. I'm not really sure why Bas does this but I think he may have wanted Nebojsa to get the magic sword for him. In any case, Nebojsa then sets off on his journey to retrieve the sword.
 Something this movie has that I really enjoy is the increased presence of magical or fantasy elements. Early in Nebojsa journey, he encounters a talking fish that he saves by tossing it in the ocean from a boat on the shoreline. He also later meets this cave-dwelling witch who lends him two horses, one of which (I think) talks. An especially awesome scene is when Nebojsa's first horse is transformed into wood and to get his horse back, he ends up using his horse lead to straight up summon the horse from thin air. These events, coupled with the different locations we see in the movie (Bas' castle, the village, an Arabian-style palace, the cave of the witch), really make this movie stand out for me.
 What also put this movie above all the others I've watched so far is the music. The main theme of the movie is this haunting, melancholic theme that just pulls you in. The intro features an instrumental version but later on, the film graces us with a vocal version. This to me is what separates the good from the great: a recognizable musical motif that sticks in the mind and echoes the adventure presented in the film. You don't necessarily need to know what the lyrics to the music mean but just hearing the music itself conveys the message.
 The cinematography of the movie is pretty clean and consistent. The scenes make sense and there aren't any weird or abrupt cuts. The use of shadows in the early part of the movie really support the tense atmosphere, to the point where the movie almost seems like a horror movie before jumping to the present.
 With how this movie has marked and impressed me despite the language barrier, I feel like I can give it no lower than a 9/10. It's a really good movie that features both heartfelt and adventurous moments, with an interesting cast of characters to go along with it. I highly recommend watching it.