Albion: The Enchanted Stallion Movie Review


By: Marianne Paluso (@Marianne_P81)

We all adore animated features and superhero flicks, but as of late, family-friendly fantasy adventures have become more rare in the cinema. So that is what makes Albion: the Enchanted Stallion such a refreshing change of pace. Feeling as if it’s a colorful blend of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Princess Bride, Albion has its own unique charm with an impressively original story, wit and humor, sweetness, glorious music, a stellar cast (which includes Jennifer Morrison and Debra Messing who both served as producers, John Cleese, Stephen Dorf, Daniel Sharman, Liam McIntyre, Richard Kind, and Avery Arendes), delightful characters, and a dash of inspiring wisdom and optimism. And it’s all the more remarkable knowing it comes from first-time screenwriter and director Castille Landon, who also costars. In all honesty, I looked it up to see if this was a recent young adult fantasy novel, because it seems so reminiscent of such. But it’s completely original and a wonderful story to boot.

The story follows young 12-year-old Evie, who doesn’t quite fit in and has a lot to handle for her age, caring for her father who is injured and working at a nearby stable. It’s there she find solace amongst the horses. But when a magnificent black stallion seemingly appears out of thin air, she follows him and is transported to the mystical land of Albion, a place on the brink of tyrannical overrule with only Evie and the band of misfits she meets along her journey as the land’s only hope of saving the Danaan people from literally becoming one with the earth. Original and familiar (which provides a great sense of comfort while watching), part of Albion‘s charm is that it feels both refreshing and reminiscent of the stories we hold dear, with definitive allusions and a sense of derivative storytelling from the likes of C.S. Lewis and more, while at the same time creating its own world and cast of colorful characters. In a scene with Cleese, there’s even a very clever and obvious wink to the audience about Monty Python, which reminds us that while the film has its serious moments, it also doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Indeed, its characters, and their portrayers, are one of Albion‘s finest attributes. Evie is portrayed by newcomer Avery Arendes and is simply wonderful in her natural ease and authenticity. Despite the extraordinary circumstances of her situation, there is no overacting of astonishment. On the contrary; you feel as if you’re simply watching a real child trying to understand what’s going on, relate naturally and humorously to her companions, and come into her own with courage and conviction. It’s lovely to witness. Daniel Sharman is hilarious as the vain but goodhearted Lir who literally cannot tell a lie, while Liam McIntyre’s Erémon is sinister, but not frightening; someone who is masking pain with vengeance. And he does so with wonderful subtlety. John Cleese as the tyrannical General Eeder is delightfully disgusting, chewing up the scenery effortlessly. You could tell he enjoyed being so evil and vile, and hilariously such. I loved seeing Debra Messing, whose work I’ve always enjoyed from her impeccable comic timing, effervescence, heart and depth on shows such as Will and Grace and The Mysteries of Laura, in a completely different kind of role. As the Queen of Albion, she is naturally regal and elegant, but she also conveys the weight that royals feel of great responsibility, loss, and contrition towards her people and family for the choices she must make. Her part is small but crucial, as is that of Stephen Dorf who portrays Evie’s father. He serious and solemn, but warm and caring, and tries to impart life lessons onto his daughter that are beautiful and inspiring. Additionally, Jennifer Morrison has a small but pivotal and wonderful part in Albion as the Abbess. Without revealing too much, she literally plays multiple roles at once with impeccable wit and charm (and a British accent), which in turn becomes a moment of glorious grace and music. Showcasing her stunning voice, which audiences just recently delighted in hearing in the Once Upon a Time musical episode, Morrison is not only strong in voice but radiant and graceful in the part of a woman who is enigmatic but also open and giving. I hope we see Morrison continue to showcase her voice, as it is simply stunning. I only wish we saw a bit more of her character because she was absolutely luminous. Lastly, director and screenwriter Castille Landon’s talent is not limited to her role behind the camera. She lights up the screen as Eriu, the feisty and funny warrior who reminds me a bit of Merida from Brave, from her accent and red hair to her fierce bravery. But make no mistake, Landon makes the role her own and wins our hearts along the way.

It’s always a joy to showcase new talent, especially female writers and directors when they are finally starting to get more recognition. And the writing, and directing especially, by Landon had a beauty and elegance that will no doubt continue to blossom. Most impressive was the way in which Albion’s land and its enchanted stallion Dagdia were filmed. A truly stunning creature, Landon brought out a mystical quality to him and his surroundings and landscapes that not only made me wish to leap into the screen and be a part of its beauty, but also believe him and this place to be as magical as they were meant to be.

Lastly, what makes Albion feel both refreshing and familiar is its timeless themes of believing in yourself, trusting your instincts, finding your inner courage, redemption, forgiveness, and overcoming the impossible. Once Upon a Time fans will no doubt enjoy the film with the similarities in themes and feeling. But it’s the wisdom imparted by Evie’s father that is Albion‘s beacon of light – that true wealth and riches come from within and that it takes someone special to find a balance between the material and the abstract. We all long for the tangible things that bring us joy; there is no shame in that. We should all strive to find those things. But there are other intangible parts of life that are the real measure of wealth: love, family, friendship, and inner peace. If we can find the balance between the two – personal fulfillment, true love, belief and happiness with yourself, combined with that which brings you joy – then you will no doubt lead a life of greatness. But just remember, it’s the latter that truly matters the most. Believe in yourself and believe what may seem impossible and miracles can happen.

Favorite Line: A rich life isn’t about material wealth. It’s from the inside. From your spirit. It takes a very special person to achieve the proper balance.

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion is now available on Netflix streaming, iTunes, and Amazon.

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