Fall of a Kingdom review – dull trudge through war and romance | Action and adventure films

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Say what you like about the artistic integrity of Game of Thrones, but at least it never skimped on the saucy stuff. Fall of a Kingdom pitches itself as “Game of Thrones meets Braveheart”, but lacks the redeeming feature that united both those sources of inspiration: entertainment value. It’s a dull historical action drama that is in desperate need of some gratuitous sex or violence to liven up its near two-hour running time.

Originally called The Rising Hawk and shot in Ukraine (home country of co-director Akhtem Seitablaev), Fall of a Kingdom attempts to conjure an epic sense of adventure with its Carpathian mountains backdrop and large cast of costumed extras. Maksim (Alex MacNicholl) and Myroslava (Poppy Drayton) are the children of rival neighbouring chieftains; they begin courting during a bear attack, but have a hard time overcoming Myroslava’s family’s opposition to their union. “No daughter of mine will be picking berries!” booms her stern father (Tommy Flanagan).

Such romantic tribulations soon fade into insignificance, however, when word reaches Maksim of invading Mongol hordes massacring villagers. Their halcyon days are over and the local tribes must put aside generations-old grievances and unite against a common enemy. This is all based on history – the 13th-century Mongol invasion of eastern Europe – but the too-pristine costumes make it look more like a hobbyist historical reenactment than a privileged glimpse into the past.

That’s a quibble, though. The real reason Fall of a Kingdom falls so flat is its lack of any characterisation or effective storytelling. Without these basics, it’s impossible to distinguish one grubby peasant from another, much less care whether he gets trampled under a Mongolian steed, shot through the throat with an arrow or burned to death when his hovel is razed to the ground.

• Fall of a Kingdom is available on digital formats from 30 November.

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Source: The Guardian
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