Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DVD Review: DragonQuest

The latest fantasy epic from director Mark Atkins (Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls) and The Asylum, is unfortunately not as entertaining as the director’s previous Merlin & The War of the Dragons, with an utterly predictable and sophomoric script, and a decidedly unexciting climax.

The story is one we’ve seen a thousand times – an evil wizard is threatening the countryside, a young apprentice is "the chosen one" to defeat him, but must go on a series of quests to acquire certain magical items – in this case, gems of virtue – before he can defeat the bad guy. As usual, he is provided with guides and protectors. Unfortunately, the script never adds anything new or interesting to this time-worn plot. Even the "quests" are boring – our hero just sets out in an apparently random direction, and each gem (with its accompanying lame "challenge") appear directly in his path, one after another, in order. This leads to one of those really boring sorcerer duels where two wizards stand about twenty feet apart and point their fingers at each other while animated lightning bolts leap back and forth between them.

Here’s a thought, guys: next time, why not have the wizards lob animated fireballs at each other like softballs, so that they have to dodge ‘em and avoid explosions going off around them. Put some movement and action in there. It’ll make your climax at least a little bit interesting.

The cast is generally wooden and uninteresting except for its top-billed and presumably better paid stars. Veteran heavy Brian Thompson (Cobra) is effective enough as the evil wizard, considering that his role is horribly underwritten. Of course, he can play these sort of parts in his sleep, and just may be doing that here. Jason Connery’s (Shanghai Noon) part is little more than an extended cameo, but he plays it okay. Marc Singer (The Beastmaster, V) hams it up outrageously in his role as a washed-up old warrior, but at least that makes him fun to watch and injects a bit of energy into the otherwise listless proceedings. As our young hero, Daniel Bonjour is boring as hell, though leading lady Jennifer Dorogi looks quite hot and handles her swordplay with some flair.

Production-wise, well, the CGI dragon effects by Tiny Juggernaut are fairly decent, but sparsely used. The setting is supposed to be another world, but there’s nothing particularly otherworldly about the way it’s shot. How much would it have cost to have digitally tossed in an extra moon in the sky, or for that matter, tint the sky a slightly different color? Make an effort, for goodness’ sake. This is a fantasy! The look of the film is pretty boring, too. The California locations are adequate, but they’re not nearly as visually appealing as the Welsh vistas used in Merlin.

On the plus side, composer Chris Ridenhour once again provides a superior score that almost seems too good for the film it accompanies.

Anyway, The Asylum DVD presents the feature in a sharp, anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 surround sound. The traditional extra features are there: a half-hearted "behind the scenes" documentary, blooper reel and selection of deleted scenes. And, of course, a selection of trailers for other current Asylum releases.

After enjoying Merlin And the War of the Dragons, I had high hopes for Dragonquest, but maybe that was the problem. Considering the budgets and speed with which The Asylum cranks these flicks out, it probably doesn’t pay to set your expectations too high. Fantasy fans might enjoy giving this disc a spin, but on the other hand, it might just be better to wait for it to hit the SciFi Channel.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sorry this one did not rock.