Age Of The Dragons

Age Of The Dragons is a rip-off re-imagining of Moby Dick set in a weird alternative world when humans hunt dragons instead of whales for “vitriol” that powers their world.

The film starts with a young Ahab (yes, that is his name) out hunting with his sister. She wanders off and gets killed by a giant white dragon (yes, seriously) and Ahab is horribly disfigured (where do they get their script ideas from?).

Fast forward about 100 years (not that many really but it felt like it) and Ishmael (I kid you not) is introduced to us in the following manner:

Old bloke in the Inn: “I hear you’re called Ishmael”

Ishamel: “You may call me that”

Seriously.

All the script writers have done is to take a copy of Moby Dick and do a find & replace with ship to wagon and whale to dragon (that rhyme had more thought put into in than the Age of The Dragons script by the way).

Ishmael and his companion Queequeg (where do they get these names from?) are looking for work and join a rag-tag bunch of Dragon hunters as they cross the country to find as much vitriol as they can – and if they happen across a white dragon, well that’s a bonus!

There’s a fair bit of character backstory set up in the first half-an-hour. Mind you not a lot else happens so they have to fill it with something. This is were we learn about Ahab and his mad quest for the white dragon and how no-one in the crew believes him and they’re just in it for the money Yadda Yadda.

I’m assuming that the budget for this film all went on Danny Glover’s salary (yes, that Danny Glover) who stars as Ahab. Well, when I say “stars”, he decides to turn up after about forty minutes, chew some scenery and then growl a bit. For most of the film he’s wearing a mask and you can’t see his face so I doubt he even turned up and they just used a body double.

The film also stars Vinnie Jones – when he popped up I almost spat my coffee out! He has a monologue scene which he’s hoping to use for his Hamlet audition tape I think, but every time he’s on screen I can’t help wondering if he’s going to start crashing through walls Juggernaut style – sadly that doesn’t happen as it would have livened things up considerably.

There are two great things about this film – the lighting is fantastic. It’s atmospheric and really conveys the meaning of a scene (which is fortunate as most of the actors seem incapable of doing that). The other good thing is Sophia Pernas‘ performance as Ahab’s daughter Rachel – Age Of The Dragons is only her second film but she is a lot more believable that any of the other actors (perhaps being a newcomer she’s not as jaded as the rest of the cast and is actually excited to be working on something).

I can see why they made this film – I’m sure it sounded great in the pitch meeting (Moby Dick Meets Dragons)  – however it’s massively let down by a poor script and a mediocre cast which is a shame. Given the big-budget treatment and some star actors (sorry Danny Glover, you peaked at Lethal Weapon) it could have worked well, instead it was relegated to the bargain bin at the local blockbusters.

Watch this if you have a test on Moby Dick in the morning and haven’t bothered to read the book yet (just remember to replace dragon with whale when you write your answers).

 

Polar Storm

Yes, it’s another disaster movie review – you’d better get used to these are they are my go-to film type!

Comet Copernicus is passing close by to the Earth and residents have been warned that they will experience disruption to satellites and power grids as it interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field (side note: the comet would have to pass ridiculously close to  Earth for that to happen but we don’t care about that apparently).

Cut to super-star Astrophysicist Dr. James Mayfield who is in Alaska to study the comet’s interaction with the Earth and report back to an agency that isn’t NASA as I guess there are copyright issues using their name or something.

Anyway, Mayfield’s main concern at this moment is successfully taking some readings of the comet’s interaction with the magnetic field and get it sent to Not-NASA so he can smoke a Cuban cigar. No, I don’t get it either, I would save smoking one of those for something really important rather than just managing to hook your computer up to your mobile wi-fi up to send an email back to your office.

As the comet nears the planet, a piece breaks off and hits Alaska a mere 100 miles from Mayfield’s location – how’s that for a coincidence? Somehow Mayfield manages to escape the comet fragment’s impact blast with some seriously dodgy 4×4 driving but his assistant isn’t so lucky (note to self: don’t become a scientists assistant – you have as much chance of surviving a disaster as a Red Shirt does on an episode of Star Trek).

Why is it in films like this no one seems to be able to drive a car without swerving all over the road and getting stuck in something? It doesn’t add any dramatic tension, it just makes me wonder how people manage to pass their driving tests in the States… right, sorry, I digress…

Mayfield is able to send his readings back to his lab but when he tries to analyse the data later he finds that all his work on the comet has been classified. Mayfield visits a General (who turns out to be his father – how’s that for coincidence?) to find out why he can’t access his work and is told that he shouldn’t cause a mass public panic because everything is fine. Sticking two fingers up to his Father and ignoring a direct order from the President of the United States (played by Teal’c from Stargate SG-1!) Mayfield appears on local TV where apparently a sundial can be used to convince the entire world we’re all doomed.

While all this is going on there’s the usual family drama of a son hating his new step-mother, fawning over a friend from school and generally moping around (yawn).

It soon transpires that the tiny little town the Mayfield’s live in is the epicentre for one of many new mini-poles that are slowly causing the Earth’s poles to move and this causes localised electromagnetic storms – what a coincidence! These electromagnetic storms will kill you if you’re driving a car or holding a mobile phone but apparently you have to be zapped a tonne of times for your pacemaker to stop working – there’s nothing like plot consistency, is there?

Mayfield comes up with a plan to save the planet and stop the polar reversal with – yes, it’s an American film so you know what’s coming – a massive nuclear explosion!

Does he succeed? Will the submarine he finds himself on sink into an icy oblivion? Will his son ever stop acting like a sullen teenager? Do we even care? No, not really to be honest, but with film of this type you’re not supposed to.

It was surprising to see Jack Coleman in the role of Mayfield – after all he was excellently sinister in Heroes but I guess he took this as a break from his Heroes character.

The acting is quite good for a film of this type but it does suffer from a rather weak script. If you don’t care about science then you’ll find it quite an enjoyable hour-and-a-half but if, like me, you’re scientifically minded then you’ll probably throw your remote at the television on several occasions.

Watch this if you have a heavy cold and your brain won’t engage in high gear too much

2012: Doomsday

2012: Doomsday is the type of low-budget offering from production house The Asylum that I absolutely love! You know exactly what you’re getting with an Asylum film – a plot with a beginning, middle and end with minimal character development, some cheesy effects and questionable science – but hey! That’s not why you watch these films, you watch them because of the cheesy effects and questionable science!

2012: Doomsday follows 5 people who have a strange urge to visit a Mayan temple;  Susan, a disillusioned paramedic who has lost her faith in God; Sarah who’s the spiritual one; Dr Frank Richards (played by Dale Midkiff who’s the sort of actor that has you scratching your head and asking “What have I seen him in?“) who is an archaeologist and placed to figure out all of the clues; Sarah’s Dad, Lloyd (played by Cliff De Young who obviously needed to pay a couple of bills for him to be in this), who didn’t believe in his daughter’s spiritual nonsense then does a 180 quicker than a pirouetting ice skater; and And then there’s Wakanna who is the “Virgin Mary” of the piece and dumped into the plot to provide some quasi-religious symbolism.

The story is about how these characters are drawn to, and make their way to, a Mayan Pyramid in Mexico. There are adventures, deaths and accidents along the way the weirdest of which being the fact that Susan’s Grandmother disappears from their car after telling Susan she should perhaps believe in a higher power. Was she a messenger sent from God? Was she an Alien with an important message for the world? Who gives a shit? I mean Susan obviously doesn’t as she carries on like nothing’s happened and that disappearing Grandmothers are quite normal in her world.

Of course, we’re not supposed to look too deeply into these sorts of things – it’s not really that sort of film, but I did find all of the religious references and allegories a bit much – I mean a pregnant woman whose baby is apparently the saviour of the world? Come on!

This is one of those films that’s perfect to watch if you’re having a duvet day or have just had a few pints down the local pub – you don’t have to think about it too much and it doesn’t matter if you pass out for 20 minutes in the middle – but if you’re looking for a film in the vein of the big-budget 2012 then I’d give this one a miss!