Stuck in a life of indentured servitude, crippled, downtrodden Marek (Melanie Stone) dreams of becoming a wizard. When Marek meets Teela (Nicola Posener), a beautiful druidic priestess in need of help, she escapes her cruel master and volunteers to lead an impossible mission. Recruiting reluctant allies, Marek and Teela journey to free Teela's sister Caeryn (Natalie Devine) from imprisonment at the hands of an evil sorcerer but find themselves facing an entire army of orcs and a terrifying ogre.
Made for the Sci-Fi Channel (who now call themselves SyFy, for reasons unclear), Mythica: A Quest for Heroes is a low-budget sword and sorcery romp with a pleasingly feminist bent. Not only was it co-written and directed by women but three principal characters are also women. On the downside the film opts for over-familiar sub-Tolkien stylings. Few fantasy epics, whether small or big-budget, seem willing to take advantage of the genre's limitless possibilities to explore stories or settings quirkier than the humdrum pseudo-Medieval norm. Yet Mythica has a certain cosy, old-fashioned charm. It is well written, well acted with an especially engaging lead in the plucky and likable Marek, and genuinely quite enjoyable. Good old reliable Kevin Sorbo imparts further warmth with a sadly meager cameo as Marek's wize wizard mentor. Game of Thrones it is not but neither is it Knights of Bloodsteel (2009). Strong storytelling and a disarmingly sincere message about the basic right of all downtrodden folk to lead lives with dignity elevate this up a few notches above most direct-to-video fare.
Anne K. Black's zesty direction ensures the film races along at a fair old clip and squeezes the most out of a limited budget. Makeup effects are substandard though used sparingly though the computer graphics are marginally more accomplished. Nonetheless the consistently underlit nighttime fight scenes get a little confusing. The plot mounts yet another cut-price retread of Seven Samurai (1954) as Marek recruits a very small band of mismatched heroes for an impossible mission. Basically just two dudes including world-weary warrior Thane (Adam Johnson) and a rascally, self-serving thief named Dagen (Jake Stormoen). Gradually Marek's pluck, idealism and steadfast belief in her own self-worth in the face of increasing abuse and adversity melts down their cynicism, although the film intriguingly hints at darker events in her future.
After a strong start the film's momentum runs low but the characters remain interesting as do their contrasted philosophical outlooks. A subplot that proves friendship and basic human decency will always outweigh arcane prophecies and mystical nonsense is also appealing. On top of that Melanie Stone's spirited turn compels from start to finish. The story continues in the sequel, Mythica: Darkspore (2015).