Con SuiteNewPreviewsThe Reactor

Empire Queen: Lighthearted Fun

by Transmute Jun

Empire Queen: The Golden Age of Magic is a film with an unusual beginning: a music video. Musician Chris Dane Owens released a song in 2008 entitled Shine on Me. Being a lover of fantasy, he wanted to create a video for the song that looked like a trailer for an epic fantasy film. Having a specific plot in mind, he set about creating a visual spectacle that captured the imagination of fans who saw it. The piece was named the best music video of the year by The New Yorker. When fans begged for more, Owens obliged with a second music video for the song Light Speed, that acted as a sequel. Yet that was still not enough, and fans of the videos began asking to see the entire film.

Chris Dane Owens and Empire Queen composer Nicolas Repetto

While Owens was excited to undertake this project, it was slow going obtaining the funding that he needed, and the COVID pandemic further delayed progress. Undeterred, he pressed on and was able to make the movie of which he had dreamed, finally releasing it in 2024.

Fortunately, Owens was able to bring back much of the cast from the original music videos, creating a consistency with the source material that his fans will appreciate. Other references to the original videos are present in the film, and a few segments from the videos are used in the film as flashback scenes.

The story of Empire Queen tells of a land where the use of magic was banned amongst the people, and reserved only for the royal family. While magic users in the general population went underground, a legend arose of an empire queen who would appear, to one day take over the realm and usher in the golden age of magic. Her arrival would be heralded by the presence of an emerald moon in the sky. Owens plays Jade Cross, an enforcer for the current Queen, rooting out magic users on behalf the royal family. He comes across a woman named Arra Winter (played by Ciel Post) in the forest who is practicing magic, and despite her involvement in this illicit activity, is enchanted by her, even more so when she escapes without surrendering her wand. Jade comes to realize that Arra is the Empire Queen who has been foretold, and when the Emerald Moon shines in the sky, he turns his back on his position to assist Arra in fulfilling the terms of the prophecy. Jade’s good friend, sea captain Sterling Montgomery (played by Jason Schulz), joins their cause, providing crucial information and assistance in finding the keys that will help unlock the Sovereign Wand, which will allow Arra to claim her birthright. 

Naturally, the current Queen, Wendolyn, is not eager to give up power, or share the world’s magic. Wendolyn does not hesitate to throw her most powerful assassins, or her fire-breathing dragon, into Arra’s path, to prevent her from reaching her goals.

The film itself is lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek, an homage to movies such as The Princess Bride. Empire Queen takes its cheesiness and predictability seriously, and is more endearing for sticking to its (low budget) guns, rather than trying to be something it is not. There is no pretense here, only the fun that comes from Owens and his friends engaging in his passion project, doing something that they love.

Even at nearly two and a half hours of running time, Owens was not able to tell the complete story that he envisioned. He is hoping for the opportunity to make a sequel film, continuing on the story of Arra, Sterling and Jade.

Empire Queen: The Golden Age of Magic is currently available on Amazon Prime and Vimeo, and there are plans to release the film on iTunes, Vudu and Hulu Play soon. There are also current negotiations for a limited theatrical release. Check out the trailer!

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Transmute Jun

Transmute Jun has an addiction to pop culture conventions, and attends as many as she can each year. When she's not traveling, she likes to stay at home reading a good book, playing a video game, or binge-watching a TV show. She can be bribed with pizza, Coke Zero and Belgian milk chocolate.