The Shadow Has Fallen
Any movie during which I can see a boom mike creep into a shot earns my immediate derision, but I can let it slide. If it happens more than once, I can’t just let it go. Thus I sentence Midnight Chronicles to a slow, merciless end.
Midnight Chronicles is based on the RPG Midnight. The evil god Izrador has reigned for 100 years, but when things go wonky he sends dark priest Mag Kiln (Charles Hubbell, Burial Ground) to look into the goings-on. Another dark priest, Tosh Kamar (Steve Sweere, Newton’s Disease), has gone missing, but when Mag Kiln tries to find him he instead learns dangerous things about himself…sort of.
The Midnight RPG is part of the Dungeons & Dragons universe. So why didn’t the filmmakers go the extra mile and brand it as such? Did they have so little faith in the public’s acceptance of another foray into already tried-and-ultimately-unsuccessful D&D films?
Midnight Chronicles is Christian T. Petersen’s baby; he wrote, produced, and directed it. Admittedly, seeing the same person handling all three roles is not necessarily a red flag. Christopher Nolan and Judd Apatow have both made very lucrative careers out of doing exactly that. But that’s where the similarities end. For while Nolan has created Inception, The Dark Knight, and The Prestige, and Apatow has offered us The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Funny People; there is no way Midnight Chronicles belongs in the same category, no matter whose wacky dream we’re exploring or whose baby we’re having.
The main issue with Midnight Chronicles — it’s highly derivative of The Lord of the Rings. There’s a dark force we don’t see, called Izradur (Sauron). There’s a mysterious priest connected to a prophecy, who we don’t know whether to trust (Strider/Aragorn). There’s a simple farmer who feels too connected to his home and family to be able to leave and fight with the rebels (a combo of Frodo/Sam). The elves fight for the side of hope and the orcs fight for the side of doom, for lack of a better word, just like in Peter Jackson’s epic.
This movie wanted to be an epic, but with a runtime hovering around 100 minutes it just couldn’t. Petersen’s cinematic vision was too big for the constraints imposed on it, like people who can’t hold a boom mike and editors who didn’t pick a better angle.
The palette on Midnight Chronicles is completely washed out; intentionally so, but to no benefit I could discern. The white levels were at times completely blown out, making me want to adjust my set. The Dolby 2.0 audio is serviceable, but that’s the highest praise I can give it. There are no extras. While that saved me time, there’s another version of this DVD out there that at least has some, including the entire RPG the movie is based on. With so little going for it to begin with, why would you take away the extras?
Skip it and devote a weekend to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.