Release Date (UK) – March 4th 2011
Certificate (UK) – 12A
Country – UK
Runtime – 91 mins
Director – Ryan Little
Starring – Danny Glover, Vinnie Jones, Corey Sevier, Sofia Pernas, Kepa Kruse
Set in an ancient world where the sky can turn into an unpredictable and ruthless enemy, Age of the Dragons is a film with a huge amount of potential. Based on Herman Melville’s literary classic Moby Dick, the film charts the journey of Ishmael (Corey Sevier) and his companion Queequeg (Kepa Kruse) as they sign up to join the mysterious Captain Ahab (Danny Glover) on his quest to slay not a whale, but an elusive white dragon. As the story progresses so the mysterious Captain Ahab’s character comes to light and we learn of Ahab’s dark and brooding obsession to slay the dragon that has for so long haunted his life.
To an outsider, the formula would seem pretty sound. Take a literary classic and add dragons. Unfortunately, Age of the Dragons not only fails to live up to expectations, it also sets itself up as an early contender as worst film of the year.
The problems begin with Age of the Dragons’ central premise. While Herman Melville’s classic novel is set on a ship, the Pequod — where the characters are quite literally trapped with the insane Captain Ahab — readers will be surprised to learn that Age of the Dragons is distinctly lacking in ocean-going ships, and indeed water of any form. What we have instead is a ‘land ship’ — a strange wooden construction designed to travel on land and protect its occupants from dragons. Replacing Melville’s original Pequod with a ship the characters can literally walk alongside, and indeed escape at any time, is without doubt a flawed concept. Why have a land ship designed to protect its crew from dragons when every time a dragon turns up everyone gets out of it anyway? Where is the drama? Where is the tension?
Unfortunately, everything about Age of the Dragons stinks of low budget. This isn’t to demean low budget films — some of the best films I’ve seen have been made on a shoe-string budget — but when a film is sold as an epic fantasy filled with dragons, while being based on one of literature’s classic novels, one really does expect an awful lot more.
The acting, I’m ashamed to say, is absolutely dreadful. You know it’s bad when the first shot of Vinnie Jones in his (miscast) role as Stubb draws the film’s biggest laugh from a screening room filled with veteran reviewers. And the thing is Jones himself isn’t actually that bad. Vinnie Jones is… Vinnie Jones, and in all fairness he is far better placed as an urban hard-man than he is in a film such as this. Unfortunately in a film of such low budget the inadequacies of Jones and his co-stars are really spotlighted when you consider the main cast consists of six people in total, all of whom receive focus from the confined nature of the story-line.
So are there any redeeming features to be found in Age of the Dragons? A part of me really wants to say yes. As a cheap straight-to-DVD release it certainly might be worth a look — if only to find humour in just how poor it is. Unfortunately, as a mainstream cinema release, with cinema ticket prices increasing year on year, there are far better films out there, and your hard-earned money would most certainly be better spent elsewhere.
Age of the Dragons is out in cinemas on the 4th March, and released on DVD on Blu-ray on 21st March and we’ve embedded the trailer below.