Judge David Johnson grew up in the Age of the Iguanas. There was poop everywhere!
The ultimate hunter is the ultimate prey.
Herman Melville's immortal Moby Dick gets commandeered and punched in the nuts by this low-budget fantasy movie about dragons, featuring Danny Glover wearing a weird-looking contact lens. Age of the Dragons hopes to differentiate itself from a pack of forgettable dragonfire auctioneers, but ends up earning itself a place in the Straight-to-DVD Fantasy Wing's Hall of Mediocrity.
Our hero? Ishmael, of course; an idealistic young man with a well-groomed beard and an absolute hard-on for killing dragons. As an added bonus, his anti-dragon sensibilities yield big-time profits. You see, in this world, dead dragons crap out "Vitriol," an extraordinarily valuable compound with a name that's almost as stupid as "Unobtanium."
Ishmael (Corey Sevier, Immortals) teams up with the lovely Rachel (Sofia Pernas), the brutal Queequeg (John Kepa Kruse), and the maniacal Ahab (Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon), all of who share in an abiding love of stabbing dragons in their heads. Ahab in particular is nursing a major grudge against the infamous white dragon who may or may not have incinerated his family. So they depart in their amphibious wooden ship and take the fight straight to the Great White's mountain lair.
I'm torn. On the one hand, this riff on Moby Dick smacks of pretension. Then again, an aping of Melville surely beats whatever dreck most action/fantasy screenwriters come up with. To director Ryan Little's credit (or maybe it's Arc's marketing team who deserve the kudos), the alignment with the Great White Whale isn't hidden. On the back of the disc case, the story is lauded as "reigniting the classic tale." I'm not totally sold on the effectiveness of this gimmick, but at least no one's trying to be coy and cute with their approach.
Literary influences aside, this is still a low-budget fantasy. It manages to do a few things right, before ultimately succumbing to the drag of mediocrity. I tend to piss and moan about the laughable quality of CGI in movies like these, so it's only fair I give props when someone gets it right. Age of the Dragons won't be confused with The Lord of the Rings—or even Reign of Fire—anytime soon, but the VFX team makes good use of their limited resources. The dragons look decent, especially the White Dragon, which is largely filmed in broad daylight. Embrace your work boys! Don't be ashamed!
On the flip side, the human elements are hit and miss. Danny Glover tries harder than I ever expected, going so far as to stick an uncomfortable-looking contact lens in his eyeball and adopting a gruff accent. Corey Sevier is likable enough as Ishmael, but that's as far as my praise extends.
The DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, a making-of featurette, outtakes, director's commentary and a special effects segment.
I don't know…I may be overselling Age of the Dragons a bit, bewitched by its surprising visual artistry. In the end, it's pretty tedious, slowly paced, and riddled with dialogue that eschews wit for ponderousness.
Call me Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Arc Entertainment
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