HEAVENQUEST: A PILGRIM’S PROGRESS *** USA 2019 Dir: Matt Bilen. 92 mins
The mythical land of Eos has been divided by a one thousand year old bitter and devastating war, and Vangel, a Judge of Gomor has unwittingly found himself on the wrong side of the perverse and ruthless justice of a powerful seer-like tyrant called Lord Aamon (Alan Powell) who resides in a dark and foreboding castle somewhere in a fantasy land that will stimulate your interest with it’s well-balanced blend of gritty, clear dialogue and realistic fighting and magic.
Heavenquest is a capable fantasy adventure directed by Matt Bilen and the story by Matt and Rachel Tan is well written and paced with a medium sized and well acted cast that kept me interested in it’s mysteries without being too cliched, which is always a relevant danger for any fantasy adventure, but this one works well. The effects are ok and meld well with some great camera and photo shots by Chris Ellison.
Vangel and the reluctant Bandy of Warda set out as desperate fugitives and become banded together on the long walk of truth that these types of movie love and the fitting score by Jonathan Beard kept my interest in finding out more as they trudge forth through a desperate and divided land and are given shelter and help by those they meet along the way on their mysterious fantasy path that twists and turns like a strange serpent. The political divisions and chaos come across really well, but what is the hidden secret that Lord Aamon is really
after? And is the North really as beautiful as people believe?
The film has a slight sci-fi edge and it’s grand opening feels a lot like the series Stargate with a bit of Lucasfilm thrown in as the Dark Order seek to imprison all who try and flee from the South to the North.
Elder (In Pyo Cha is sturdy here) is a servant of the King of Eos and saves Vangel and Bandy from a witch of Aamon and then more backstory is cunningly introduced when brave Vangel meets Ezera (Peta Sergeant) who knows more than she lets on. The film kept me watching as the story is cleverly rolled out in tactical phases that were entertaining for a fantasy adventure film that felt like Conan with a slightly blunted killing edge to his weapon of yore in an Arthurian like tale of the dark and twisted morals that are often involved in the destructive battles of a fantasy kingdom.
Who are The Five and will the South overcome in what may be the most destructive battle that Eos has ever seen?
Heavenquest is fun and interesting and worth a watch by anyone who enjoys ‘tales of high adventure’ and long and difficult journeys into fantasy lands with a dark and ultimately light moral undertone. Although the story tends to overcomplicate itself at times this didn’t ruin my enjoyment of a film that holds all it’s myriad pieces together quite nicely.
Do you want to see the Wicked Gate or not? In the swish of a blade you’ll be there in a kind of fantasy heaven.
Review by Nathan Sandiford