E1 Entertainment // 2008 // 85 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 23rd, 2010
The battle begins.
How does this sound to you: a made-for-TV, low budget, fantasy adventure starring the girl from the TV show Angel and the guy from The Mummy, and helmed by the director of Catwoman. Irresistible, right?
Carpia is a peaceful land led by a benevolent king (Arnold Vosloo, The Mummy Returns) and it's currently under siege by a fearsome fire dragon. Unable to resist its destruction, the king reluctantly agrees to give up sovereignty and move his peasants into protective custody with a rival king who happens to be a douche.
The Carpia princess, who (Amy Acker, Dollhouse) doesn't like this one bit, heads out into the wilderness to track down a legendary dragonslayer. Turns out that guy's dead, but his son (Tom Wisdom, 300) is up for the challenge. Unfortunately, the best idea he can come up with is absolutely terrible.
That idea? Calling forth an ice dragon to defeat the fire dragon. That's right, in order to deliver on the promise of some sweet CGI dragons chasing each other through the sky for a few minutes, the script demands that the main hero abandon all reason and sic two horrifying, destructive dragons on a kingdom already battered to near-death.
Well -- SPOILER! -- the ice dragon does indeed triumph over its fiery rival (if these two could have just set aside their differences, imagine the possibilities!). But, just as you'd expect, instead of getting screwed over and burned alive, the hapless townsfolk get screwed over and frozen to death. I suppose that is an improvement, as far as meeting your end goes, but it's a bitch for tax collection.
As much as they try with their forced accents and Super Duper Serious expressions of consternation, it's hard to get behind our heroes, thanks to their doltish maneuvers. Though I have a soft spot for Acker (thanks to Angel), I have difficulty buying her as a fantasy princess. Tom Wisdom, who was pretty good as the captain's badass son in 300, simply melts into the background, overwhelmed by the special effects and John Rhys-Davies' scenery-masticating.
It shouldn't be terribly surprising that the dragons -- the main stars, for all intents and purposes -- fail to suspend disbelief, but I will be a bit more gracious and excuse the effects artists from CGI Detention. These aren't Reign of Fire dragons, but they're sort of fun to look at and just decent enough to almost sort of pass for real threats to the serfs. However, the big finale -- where the ice dragon gets trapped in a collapsing mountain -- is migraine-inducing.
The Blu-ray serves up a decent 1.78:1, 1080p transfer that outclasses the actual feature its transmitting. This is a bright, colorful film and the bumped-up resolution and a surprisingly high level of detail give the digital canvas a nice look. The effects budget does suffer under the microscope of high-def, but I can live with that. A DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio pushes the sound, which kicks up a good enough racket during the action moments. A standard-issue making-of featurette is the lone extra.
Fire & Ice yet again proves my theory on fantasy films -- it's virtually impossible to craft a believable one on a small budget. The picture quality is the best thing about this entire release.
Guilty of general mediocrity and dumbass characters.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13