Indie Film Review “The Taker’s Crown”



First, the Recap:

The seeking of power. An age-old pursuit, there are always those who would gain its influence that they may reign as tyrants, while there also remain those who would wield it for the benefit of all with whom they connect and/or interact. Truthfully, it becomes the epitome of good vs. evil when authority and strength are at stake. Driven from his ancient home, the mad Titan known as Tome (Mike Tremblay) has a single purpose in mind–to find The Taker’s crown, an artifact whose owner can possess incredible abilities. Utilizing the skills of his powerful “children” Rogan (Noah Robbie) and Caila (Tiffany Burns) to aid in his quest, Tome’s ever-weakening state of being becomes a source of both frustration and motivation for him.

However, other forces are likewise on a journey to locate and take the crown. Regal King Wiglaf (Tim Kaiser), a ruler displaced in time, also seeks its power to locate his beloved Freya (Jeannine Thompson). Assembling a ragtag group that includes Julian the Maverick (Eric Moyer) and his assistant Albert (Jared Withrow), plus an unanticipated new ally, they put to task their own abilities in order to win the race against Tome’s efforts and gain their prize. Yet, even as they travel ever closer to their goals, questions of loyalty, faith, and forgiveness arise between the stalwart companions, even as deceptions and shaky alliances threaten to tear the group apart. Only by fortitude, stout hearts, and unwavering perseverance can they succeed.

Next, my Mind:

A very pronounced ode to a certain fantastically executed fantasy film (and book) series some may have happened to hear about before called “The Lord Of The Rings”, there’s no mistaking familiar overall concepts, cinematographically similar imagery stylings, the single artifact of power that drives both good and evil characters to pursue it,  and the foundational principals of light vs. dark found so prevalently in that series. Here, the action is brought to contemporary times to find the band of somewhat unlikely heroes coming together for a common cause and well-meaning intentions gong up against the shadowy foe bent on destroying mankind and returning home as an outcast no longer. What gives the film a bit of an additional edge is the not overly prominent, underlying currents of faith-based messages throughout, covering well-established notions as mentioned in the synopsis above in addition to judging outer appearance vs. the heart, helping others, not allowing circumstances to define you, freedom from captivity, seeking the Truth, God’s will and timing, et al. This, along with the wonderfully shot visual look of the project helped this film at least get a leg up compared to some low-budget offerings.

Now, understanding this is indie cinema, certain aspects often do have a less polished quality, and for this reviewer anyway, it came down to shortcomings in acting. While I wholeheartedly applaud the total efforts given here, there was just a sense of either trying too hard or too little between the various characters presented. Kaiser as Wiglaf is fun, but it was hard at times to not notice some overacted moments where the intention was for highly emotional responses. It seemed overly dramatic rather than filled with sincere sentiment. Tremblay’s Tome is the prototypical, gravelly-voiced villain, which is perfectly fine. Yet, it sometimes felt a little forced when it was intimidation being sought, bordering campy rather than genuinely menacing. Robbie and Burns as Tome’s “children” Rogan and Caila were also decent, but with these characters, there were moments I thought seemed devoid of total conviction and real passion in execution of the lines where I would have expected some gravitas. Moyer’s Julian is comedic-with-a-serious-streak that fits well to lighten things up a bit, but sometimes here, I really didn’t feel it was well placed comedy given the weight of events being depicted.  It went a little over-the-top at times for me.

Having seen Withrow in the romantic drama “Courageous Love”, I had a main performance to compare, and I have to say, this role as Albert felt so much like a small step backwards when I know the talent possessed here.  Albert is a well-meaning man with excellent purpose, but the delivery seemed so timid, missing that level of fervency and poise. Supporting turns were many, including Greg J. Wolfe as Caleb, Jennifer Sulkowski (Pool) as Kara, Sophie Bolen as Jane, Stephen Brown as a thief, Schalet Jackson as his pedestrian victim, Thompson as Wiglaf’s missing lady love Freya, and  Alethea Varner as the kindly Melissa. In total, with it’s greater visual success and even more importantly, the centerpiece of faith and trust in God at its well-intentioned and purposeful heart, writer/director/producer Josiah Swanson’s “The Taker’s Crown” is still a satisfactory and respectable indie feature film effort that does rise above its faults with that message of hope and Truth intact, ideally aiming to change lives first and foremost.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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