American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Recent movies have created sort of a generic fantasy universe of Muppets and swamps, strange beasts and evil tyrants, damsels and heroic lads, and ancient prophecies and mythical legends. It's a world inspired by ingredients from "Lord of the Rings," the "Star Wars" movies, Dungeons and Dragons gamesmanship, tales of King Arthur and the latest gimmicks from the special-effects people.
In a movie that works, these ingredients can be exciting and delightful. "Legend" does not work.
The movie is a British big-budget, special-effects extravaganza by Ridley Scott, the director of "Alien." It tells of a time long, long ago, when unicorns roam the Earth and the powers of light and darkness are at war. An evil prince named Darkness lives in caverns far beneath the Earth, scheming to blot the sun out of the lives of all the planet's creatures and to rule the gloom forever.
Earth itself is a sylvan place, filled with flowers and little glades and grassy clearings - but also with dread swamps and moldy fens. Young lovers can kiss for an afternoon in a bath of sunshine, but fearsome storms come up suddenly and lash the land with their fury. A race of evil little druids lives in the woods, and they spread mischief wherever they venture. Their favorite pastime is frightening the unicorns.