Age of the Dragons
dir Ryan Little
scr McKay Daines
prd McKay Daines, Steven A Lee
with Danny Glover, Corey Sevier, Sofia Pernas, Vinnie Jones, Kepa Kruse, David Morgan, Larry Bagby
release UK 4.Mar.11
10/US 1h31
Age of the Dragons
"To the last I grapple with thee": Sevier and Pernas

glover jones
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Age of the Dragons An overserious tone makes this profoundly silly adaptation of Herman Melville's Moby Dick rather good fun to watch. And as the actors ham it up, we're surprised how involved we get in their increasingly ridiculous story.

In either a distant medieval past or post-apocalyptic future, Ahab (Glover) is roaming the countryside in his metal-armoured bus-ship chasing dragons and collecting their "vitriol" for sale. He's aided by a faithful crew of thugs: hothead Stubbs (Jones), loyal Starbuck (Morgan) and twisted Flask (Bagby). And there's also his impossibly hot adopted daughter Rachel (Pernas). Then they're joined by two young strangers, beefcake Ishmael (Sevier) and his strong-but-silent cohort Queequeg (Kruse), as they head out to catch the white dragon that's driven Ahab mad with vengeance.

Screenwriter Daines clearly had a great time adapting the script ("Ishmael, is it?" "You can call me that"), so it's a bit odd that director Little plays it so straight, ignoring the comical possibilities. Although he must not have conveyed this to Glover, who so shamelessly chomps on the scenery that we can't help but laugh. And the rest of the cast follow him with performances that are both earnest and corny, just like the film itself. And in the end, the combination of sincere storytelling and camp acting is what makes the film so much fun to watch.

Even more preposterous is the way Little tries to rush past the glaring holes in the story's logic, as if we won't notice. What powers this massive, lumbering ship, which seems able to scale mountains on its creaky wooden wheels even though there isn't a road in sight? How do they get the vitriol into those glowing bottles when it can't come in contact with air? Why is the Megan Fox-alike Rachel so impeccably groomed when the men look like they haven't bathed in years?

In the end, the movie's guilty pleasure elements win us over. The grunted-whispered dialog is fantastic. The effects that render dragons like gigantic scary bats are decent. The story inventively depletes the crew one by one while the hunk and babe indulge in a bit of hanky panky. And best of all is the way the movie is shot, edited and scored as if it's a cinematic epic.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 20.Jan.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall