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With: Blake Stadel, Rob Simonsen
Written by: Jefferson Brassfield
Directed by: Brock Morse
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence
Running Time: 103
Date: 03/18/2013

Westender (2003)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Axis of Medieval

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Brock Morse's Westender is a kind of medieval adventure in the vein ofThe Lord of the Rings or Excalibur, but achieved with a very low budget anda refreshing lack of self-importance. During a drunken night of cardplaying, Lord Asbrey (Blake Stadel) loses his prized ring, a gift fromhis late wife. During the cold light of day he realizes what he's doneand vows to get it back within the course of seven days, by which timehe can join up with a pretty gypsy woman and move on to greenerpastures.

On his walk, he meets up with the wisecracking minstrel, Glim (Rob Simonsen) who won the ring. Glim has been attacked and kidnapped by "slavers." Now Asbrey must decide if he will stick to his selfish agenda, or help free the rest of the slaves and return to his former glory.

Using only the two characters -- and for long stretches, only one -- Morse and screenwriter Jefferson Brassfield strip away any need for a huge budget. Most of the film takes place in natural exteriors that probably needed little in the way of dressing. But the film's greatest asset is its resonant score by Rob Simonsen, which somehow makes the film feel fuller.

Still, as the film goes, Asbrey goes through some bizarre dream sequences, and we begin to miss the back-and-forth between the grumpy brawler and the scrawny clown. And by the time the film reaches its final 20 minutes, the momentum has dried up.

Distributed by Warner Home Video, the Westender DVD clearly did not get much attention. The picture is fuzzy, and the digital time counter is not activated (at least not on my player). A batch of extras includes a lackluster "making of" documentary, some odd trailers, deleted scenes, optional subtitles, and -- astonishingly -- a second audio track with a description of the movie for the blind (a good idea).

Best Buy Co, Inc.