Though it’s unfair for a critic to say a film is worse than another purely because it had a smaller budget, Tales of an Ancient Empire (aka Abelar: Tales of an Ancient Empire) looks less like a professionally produced film and more like a project made on a rented set the size of a small bedroom by a director who overindulged themselves with Adobe After Effects to make up the difference. Structurally and technically, Tales of an Ancient Empire deserves even more criticism for dividing its story into nonsensical vignettes where characters emote at a sub-Soap Opera quality as their lines compete to be heard through bad audio effects and over a loud soundtrack. Tales of an Ancient Empire is virtually unwatchable unless you’re really hungry for a few moments of fantasy-themed nudity, and even then the bad audio distracts you. “Hey, boobs- Wait, is she speaking English? I can barely understand her.”
If you do manage to ignore all of the film’s glaring shortcomings and the haze of bad editing that makes any action sequence impossible to follow, then just maybe you’ll make it to one of the parts where something resembling a story makes it through. It doesn’t last lost, and one of the few places where it does sees Kevin Sorbo playing a gambler recruited by a rogue princess trying to regain her kingdom. We think.
It’s hard to make a film this bad by accident, leaving us to wonder if Director Albert Pyun is some sort of high-art satirist trying to show the world how ridiculous it is to have standards for a film to exceed or disappoint. Or Pyun just might be one of those filmmakers the world would be better off without.
DVD Bonus Features
Why would you even want any?
"Tales of an Ancient Empire" is on sale January 24, 2012 and is rated R. Action, Adventure, Fantasy. Directed by Albert Pyun. Written by Cynthia Curnan. Starring Kevin Sorbo, Melissa Ordway.