Dragon Storm DVD Review
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There are some great 'dragon' films around. And then there's this...
A helpful intro tells us Dragon Storm is set in Carpathia in 1190 AD but costumes, accents, sets and acting do little to assist in our suspension of disbelief. As dragons from outer space cause havoc, leaving a trail of death and destruction, two rival Kings must put disagreements aside and unite to battle these fire-breathing demons.
The first dragon hatching from what appears to be a meteorite is laughable and a fairly good indication of the production quality of Dragon Storm. Thankfully special effects are one thing that does improve throughout the film. Forget outer shots of Fastrad’s castle looking like a cardboard façade, the majority of Dragon Storm’s budget was clearly used for special effects – the dragons look like they’re from another film. A film of extremes, Dragon Storm will swing from completely over-exaggerated physical theatre techniques to a complete lack of any attempt at acting, merely relying on these special effects to prop up the film.
The poor acting means Dragon Storm lacks character continuity and there is no smooth transition between scenes - emotions shown in one scene jar with the next. The introduction of a livid King Fastrad (John Rhys-Davies) is followed by a nonsensical, now uncharacteristic calm, as the King is seemingly unperturbed by the destruction of his “drafty damp rat infested kennel not fit for a dog.” Princess Medina’s clear American accent matches other character’s pronunciation of “erb tea” but is ridiculous for the film’s setting. Her strange hunting attire as the daughter who behaves more like a son conflicts with the suddenly tearful Princess seen later in the film. Even the extras fail to put in a convincing performance, raising a victory cheer once the dragons are defeated akin to that heard at a poorly attended school concert.
"A film of extremes, Dragon Storm will swing from completely over-exaggerated physical theatre techniques to a complete lack of any attempt at acting, merely relying on these special effects to prop up the film"
The only character who is consistently presented is the painfully stereotyped oriental warrior, Ling, whose victory tipple is Jasmin Passion Flower tea and who suggests the others try his energising soup containing the special ingredient of dried tiger penis. His introduction in the slapstick tavern fight scene is one of the most entertaining sequences but uses slow motion to little effect, other than to tick it off the checklist of possible special effects.
Fleeing from the blazing cut-out castle, Fastrad’s royal party cross paths with a huntsman (Maxwell Caulfield) who “serves no man” but later concedes, joining the task force against the dragons. His hair is another unintentional source of comedy, perhaps the greatest weapon in the film – a floppy cheesy 80s rock star look is crossed with a style similar to John Travolta’s when playing Edna Turnblad in Hairspray.
The actors’ performances aren’t helped by a flat far from mediocre script that introduces each character in 80s kid’s TV show style, according to occupations – “I’m a huntsman”, “I’m a trader”… Later scriptwriting attempts at being clever just make characters appear overly smug when there are still dragons to kill and one of the “warriors” has died: “We can all call today a bittersweet victory.” A cave scene with the equivalent of modern teens making-out seems to lack any scripting, instead favouring quite ridiculously over-long shots of two girls inexplicably giggling.
"Maxwell Caulfield's hair is another unintentional source of comedy, perhaps the greatest weapon in the film – a floppy cheesy 80s rock star look is crossed with a style similar to John Travolta’s when playing Edna Turnblad in Hairspray."
Irritating almost slapstick subplots, like plans to betray the king fail to enrich the story and frustrating scenes like a man set on fire wailing on the snow covered ground, doing nothing to save himself, only add to an already infuriating dire production. Irish sounding Titanic music starts right on cue for the predictable final kiss before another meteorite falls, paving the way for the possibility of an ill-fated sequel.
Dragon Storm is a straight-to-TV movie, so why the release of a DVD is necessary is mystifying. The film wouldn’t be out of place on Channel 5, although even here it might stand out against the much improved production quality and acting in many of their new shows. Perhaps the mixed bag of the Sci-Fi channel or another of the more obscure digital channels would be a more appropriate home.
Thankfully no extras are included – merely scene selection which might at least make it easy to check out the huntsman’s hair.
Director: Stephen Furst
Writer: Patrick Phillips, Sam Wells
Running Time: 96 mins
Starring: John Rhys-Davies, Maxwell Caulfield, Angel Boris Reed, John Hansson
Dragon Storm is released on May 24th, 2010
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