A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Albion: The Enchanted Stallion is a fantasy that has the feel of the start of a magical universe franchise. It features a brave child negotiating her way through warring peoples in a strange world. The movie tries, not always successfully, to mimic the comic adventure style of The Princess Bride. Violence threatened by bad guys is ever-present, but good characters, including a selfless queen (Debra Messing), a protective abbess (Jennifer Morrison), and a fierce and loyal female warrior played by the director, are willing to risk their lives to do the right thing to end the fighting. Tweens are the targeted audience. Violence is limited and not especially bloody, and the most dastardly villain (played by John Cleese) is funny.
What's the story?
ALBION: THE ENCHANTED STALLION is the story of 12-year-old Evie (Avery Arendes), a Vermont stable girl who cares for her wheelchair-bound father (Stephen Dorff). After she's taken by a magical stallion to Albion, a strange, hidden land, she discovers that she is heir to an imperiled underground kingdom that will be destroyed by its enemy unless she uses her special gift on their behalf. Before she agrees to sign on for that, she helps Eriu (Castille Landon), a Danann warrior, find the Flame of Knowledge, one of their people's four ancient treasures, because it will help Evie find her way home. As she eventually agrees to take on the project of saving the downtrodden Dananns of Albion from the ruthless and war-mongering Melessians, she stands up to dangerous bullies, including their cruel leader, General Eeder (John Cleese).
Is it any good?
This is a generic otherworldly adventure designed to appeal to tween girls, complete with a sensible stable girl protagonist saving the day. In the mode of the Narnia and Hobbit tales, where a quest motivates the characters to do the courageous things they do, here an imperiled magical kingdom needs a 12-year-old girl's assistance for survival. Many of these adventure-in-a-strange-world films would profit from a 10- or 20-minute reduction in running time, and this is no different. There's an obvious and not always successful effort to mimic the irreverent humor of The Princess Bride, and John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, amusingly executes the odd role of a cruel and cannibalistic general whose torso and face are covered with nipples.
Albion: The Enchanted Stallion features luscious green landscapes, swelling inspirational anthems, and a twisting and at times slow-moving plot about a peaceable people tricked into living underground in a treaty brokered by a hoodwinked goddess. Some are dressed like Vikings and others like Santa's elves, and yet others like medieval Crusaders. What world they live in, what era they live in -- for the first 80 minutes there are few answers to these big questions. What's impressive, nevertheless, is that this was co-written and directed by a plucky woman in her twenties, Castille Landon, who also plays Eriu. Just getting a movie made is an achievement to be lauded. The ending sets up the possibility of sequels to come. One hopes the next movie's editors will be more aggressive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Evie learns about herself through her journey in Albion: The Enchanted Stallion. How would you feel if you learned that most of what you knew about yourself wasn't accurate?
How do the characters demonstrate courage and loyalty? What about perseverance and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?
How does this movie compare to other fantasy films you've seen?
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