- Published on Amazon.com
And by that I mean the camera work, not the volcano. This isn't the worst disaster movie I've ever seen, but there were a few drawbacks that makes this a 3-star movie at best.
Let me first say that I have a serious weakness for disaster movies, and I have an incredibly high tolerance for cheesy special effects, lame characters, and ridiculous plot lines. I've got everything in my collection from Asylum movies, 80s made-for-tv movies, Sci-Fy channel flicks, and Hollywood blockbusters. I generally love them all (even the really bad ones).
That said, this was a tough one to like, mainly because the camera work was atrocious. I think they shot the entire 3-hour movie using a cheap hand-held camera, and the person holding the camera was *way* over their coffee quota for the day. I expect the camera to shake during earthquake sequences (and it did), but I don't see any reason for shakiness when two people are sitting on a couch talking (and there was). It just got worse as the movie went on, and by the end I was actually a little queasy.
However, the bad camera work aside, Ring of Fire was pretty standard fare as far as disaster movies go. It's a typical "unethical corporation" vs. "scientist trying to save the planet" scenario. In this case, it's an oil tycoon who illegally drills deeper than he's supposed to in a national reserve, and he accidently hits a large magma chamber. That sets off a chain reaction in the Ring of Fire, which will ultimately destroy the world if not stopped. The resident geologist, along with an environmental activist and a whistleblower, step in to save the day with a hokey, 'just-go-with-it' plan.
The special effects were good in some areas, lame in others. The digital effects of the volcano and ash clouds were really well done, but the pyrotechnics involved with the lava bombs and "shaky-cam" earthquake sequences were really lame. I'm pretty sure they were running through plastic trees at one point, lol. Overall, I'd give the special features a solid 3 stars, on par with other tv disaster movies.
The acting is also good in some characters, weak in others. Ring of Fire is worth seeing for Terry O'Quinn, especially if you're a fan of Lost, and Michael Vartan, if you're a fan of Alias. You'll probably recognize a few other faces as well: Ian Tracey (multiple tv shows, including Da Vinci's Inquest, Continuum, & Bates Motel), Agam Darshi (Sanctuary), and Brian Markinson (multiple tv & movie roles, Mad Men & Continuum). Personally, I wasn't wowed by Lauren Lee Smith - either her acting OR her character, but I've seen worse. Overall, I think there was a lot of talent on set, but they could only do so much with weak subplots and boring dialogue.
Speaking of which - you'll feel all three hours of this movie. It's slow to get going, mainly because they have so many character subplots to explain (the geologists' aneurism, the grieving parents who lost a child, the environmental activist who lost custody of her son...AND her estrangement from her father, etc.). Once the volcano pops, the pace picks up and it gets more interesting. However, the last 45 minutes were torturously slow, mainly because they had to wrap up all those subplots they introduced in the beginning AND save the world at the same time. I think this is one film that would have greatly benefited if a few of those minor storylines had been edited out.
Overall, I'd put this one at a solid 3-stars. If the camera work had been decent, I would have give it 4-stars. If I find it in the $5 bin at Walmart I'll probably buy it just to add to my collection, but otherwise it's worth seeing on Netflix and then forgetting.