Review: Throne of Elves

I learned about Throne of Elves through a recommendation from a friend. It is a Chinese animated film inspired by a video game called Dragon Nest that takes place in a Dungeons and Dragons-inspired world with humans, elves, and other fantasy races. This movie is a sequel to Dragon Nest: Warriors Dawn, which introduces the world of Alterra. I watched that movie as well, but I found the plot too convoluted along with gratuitous action sequences that took me out of the story. It reminded me of Bayala: A Magical Adventure, which also introduces a vast world of fantasy characters and kingdoms that are packed into a single story. I think Throne of Elves is easier to enjoy than Warriors Dawn because it focuses on a central couple instead of jumping around between different characters and lore all at once. The girl from the central couple is an elf princess, which makes it a perfect contender for my blog.

Liya and Lambert standing under the glowing green light of the Gem of Life

At the beginning of the movie, Princess Liya is excited to attend her brother's wedding to the beautiful elven Queen Mayre. She requests to invite her human friend, Lambert, to the wedding, who had saved her life in the previous movie. Lambert is nicknamed Little Fish by everyone who is close with him and is called that for the entirety of this movie, so I only knew about his real name from the prequel. He looks several years older and more muscular in this sequel in a way that emulates Hiccup's growth from the How to Train Your Dragon films. Lambert is ecstatic at the chance to see Liya again and makes her a beautiful finger guard for her bow that doubles as an engagement ring. The weaponsmith who trained him to make such trinkets lets him borrow a hoverboard he invented that is reminiscent of the one Jim Hawkins uses in Treasure Planet. Lamber takes fall advantage of the hoverboard and uses it to soar through the animated fantasy world of Alterra, treating us to a series of gorgeous landscapes that resemble the backgrounds in the Barbie: Fairytopia movies.

Liya admiring the finger guard that Little Fish made for her

The video game inspiration behind Throne of Elves is clear from the setting and the plot. Every character is trained in some sort of weapon or magical art. Lambert uses a sword, and Liya has a bow and magical arrows. Shortly before her brother's wedding, Liya is entrusted by Queen Mayre with protecting a magical gem that sustains life among the elves, a common trope in video game RPGs, especially the Final Fantasy series. The conflict ensues when she is given explicit instructions not to tell anyone that she has the Gem of Life, including Lambert. When Mayre's evil sister, Meyla, crashes the wedding in search of the Gem of Life's power, Liya must turn down Lambert's proposal in order to protect it. This places a rift in their relationship that forces Lambert to regain Liya's trust as he offers to help her rescue her sister-in-law, and she finds her loyalties being tested.

I like that this movie allows a chance to zero on in the relationship between Liya and Lambert without all of the convoluted characters and backstories from the prequel. Liya's responsibility as the protector of the gem is a beautiful metaphor for how adult responsibilities can get in the way of our relationships and overshadow things we enjoyed when we were younger. For this reason, I think it does a better job than most Disney sequels at developing adult relationships. I also thought it was neat how Liya remained a princess instead of a queen but had adult responsibilities because her relative was marrying into the throne. That gives her the freedom to marry a commoner of another race without risking the future of the elven kingdom. This sophisticated method of storytelling combined with beautiful animation makes it a movie well worth watching.

Full cast shot of Throne of Elves

Overall, I think Throne of Elves works great as a standalone video-game inspired movie for people who don't have time to commit to a full-length RPG game. It's no wonder it was turned into an MMORPG for Android users. The romance between Liya and Lambert was handled much better than it was in the first movie, which relied on tired video game and war story tropes to introduce their relationship. The fantasy setting worked well with the plot and was visually appealing with beautiful CGI animation. I loved Liya's green leaf Tinker Bell dress and the magical glowing gems. This movie is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime along with its prequel.

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