I'm not sure how many people that tuned in for "Age of Dragons" on the SyFy network (or who are now shopping this DVD) have read the classic Herman Melville novel that inspired the story. Taking its basic premise from "Moby Dick" while jettisoning just about everything else, this was one mightily bad idea from the inception. Why would you set yourself up for the comparison if you didn't have to? Seriously, though, no one watching this film would be expecting a grand literary interpretation. In most regards, this is unrecognizable from Melville's tale of obsession and the great white whale. I'm not sure, therefore, why they tried to keep the dialogue somewhat faithful. In a strange decision, the movie makers didn't really seem aware of their intended audience. By taking everything so seriously and trying to play it straight, this movie just isn't much fun. I expected it might not be very good, but I had hoped for some genuine bad movie camp and silliness.
The tale starts with a young Ahab (before he grows into Danny Glover) and his unfortunate encounter with a vicious white dragon. After this brief introduction, we fast forward through the decades until a modern Ahab is assembling a crew for a hunting expedition. It seems that Dragon vitriol (don't ask, I think it was hard to make dragons as commercially viable as whales are) is one hot commodity. If you are familiar with the novel, you will recognize the key participants--but it's hardly essential. Aside from Vinnie Jones (who brings occasional moments of interest), the cast is drowning and completely over their collective head with the clunky screenplay. The narration by Ismael (Cory Sevier) in painfully leaden and all the performances are awkward and stilted. When Glover finally shows up, he overacts up a storm but nothing can save this production from the lack of forward momentum. Ahab is loony, the expedition is treacherous, mutiny is on hand, and the outcome looks murky for all involved.
What really strikes me about "Age of Dragons" is that, despite everything, the movie had the potential to be an enjoyable guilty pleasure. The effects, sets, and other technical aspects of the film are decent. The CGI dragons are, also, well done although some of the battle sequences lack the requisite bite. But most of the movie is spent with a cast of characters you don't really know or care about. As they wander around wordlessly (or with that horrible narration), it just seems so impossibly dull. It became a chore to continue on the quest with this group. Why didn't they just try to have a bit of fun since they started with such a nutty idea? What you have is a bad movie masquerading as something more significant. As someone who loves all kinds of bad movie mayhem, all I ask is to be entertained (even if the production is atrocious). "Age of Dragons" failed that simple test. KGHarris, 6/12.