Forgotten Films: Age of the Dragons (2011)
This is the 27th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films
Every week the SyFy Channel puts out a new low budget film, which I generally ignore. Sure, this means I occasionally miss such classics as “The Return of the Manster” or “RoboCroc vs. Sharktopus” but I can normally live with that. Imagine my surprise when I got a call two weekends ago from my longtime bookselling partner Willie asking “Are you watching this?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. He said ”SyFy’s got a movie about Moby Dick but with dragons instead of whales!” He had me there. I am a huge fan of the novel so I flipped over and watched a few minutes of it. I saw enough to say “Let’s check this sucker out from the beginning”. I put the DVR on and got the rebroadcast later that same evening.
What I got was an interesting mess, up to a point. It seems we have Ahab (played by Danny Glover) whose life has been ruined by the great white dragon, never officially named in the film. It has maimed him and killed his sister. So he has gathered a crew of dragon hunters and they chase the dragons, looking for their vitriol, which lights most of the universe in special lamps. He has gathered together Starbuck and Stubbs. Ishmael and Queeqeg (Corey Sevier and Kepa Kruse, respectively) show up and, after a demonstration of harpooning skills, they become part of the crew. The crew serves aboard the Pequod, a land roving ship used for hunting dragons.
They are on some wasteland word with lots of fog and barren trees and few people. So far, so good. There is strife and dissension in the crew. Ahab is obsessed with the white dragon, even though there are plenty of other dragons to kill. You’ve got many of the books crucial scenes – the mad preacher warning against the trip (“Only one man shall return”) and the offering of the reward to the first to spot the dragon.
But (and this is a big but), you have a few “modifications”. Ahab has an adopted daughter, Rachel (Sofia Pernas) working as a part of the crew and she and Ishmael seem attracted. This upsets Flask, the vitriol extractor (think flenser if you recall the book) who wants her for himself. OK, you need a love interest in a SyFy movie. I might grant you some of that. (Not really! You are messing with masterpieces here). But the ending has been changed and there is some happiness in the world. That I cannot forgive. So, be warned. It starts well but finishes badly.
Serendipity is one of my favorite things and it raises its head here. Just as I finished watching Age of the Dragons, I turned over to Cartoon network and caught an episode of Futurama entitled Mobius Dick. What were the chances? Leela, Bender, Fry and crew face off against the evil space whale and learn about the evil powers of obsession. Lots of interesting in jokes, especially in the graveyard of lost spaceships and a quick Tom Baker Dr. Who cameo. This one is worth your time and energy more so than the movie.
Another piece of serendipity will show up in a subsequent column. I am trying to get them all written before leaving for the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno in less than two weeks and while I know the films that will be reviewed, their order is not yet determined. But serendipity will be mentioned.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.