Listed Run Time: 95 minutes
Cast: Amelia Jackson-Gray, Jon-Paul Gates, Eliza Swenson, Jeff Denton, Matt Wolf, Rachel Haines, Jason DeParis, Jessica Bork, Eliza Swenson, Kurt Altschwager, Tyler Constable.
Director: Leigh Scott
MPAA Rating: NR
From The Asylum by way of Digiview Entertainment and director Leigh Scott (Dracula's Curse/ The Beast of Bray Road) comes this amazing $1 DVD purchased from Wal*Mart. You don't expect much of a dollar DVD, much less reviews of them, but I felt this DVD- which boldly proclaims: "The Epic Trilogy of Swords and Sorcery Begins!"- needed a review. Besides it's got a bunch of extras! So without further adieu. .
Sometimes it can take days to etch out the basic thumbnail of a review. By the 4 minute 39 second mark I had paused this movie, booted up my computer, and begun to type these very words. DRAGON has, from the moment the ineptly keyed titles scrolled, proven itself to be an amateur effort done on the cheap. We're talking the sort of budget that probably wouldn't even fill the craft services table on a Corman production.
But what you want to know is whether DRAGON was jaw dropping awful or unintentionally funny. To which I would like to point out that while not yet 5 full minutes into the movie it has already subjected the viewer to poorly generated titles playing over stock aerial mountain flyby footage, voice over narration delivering an absurd elementary school prologue, a CGI battle in front of a CGI castle that looks like it was lifted from the cut scene of a 90s era CRPG. .
and what looks like people drafted from the masquerade event at a CON to run through the forest. .
Speaking of that "forest" I also quickly decided that the best way to review this movie is to just treat you to some of my (slightly cleaned up) raw notes. I hope you find the comments as humorous as I did. It all begins with: "Dragon. Not much of a movie so far. Lots of stock footage of mountains. Woman running through forest. Who are those guys supposed to be? Trolls?" It was about at this point I began eyeing the time counter (mm.ss) ..
6.37 - We're STILL in the forest!?!?
6.5? - WTF!! They just stop in the middle of a forest and start to chitchat?
8.00 - Still in the woods!
8.25 - Can't these actors walk and talk at the same time?
9.00 - STILL IN THE WOODS! Oh, wait, the woman is changing clothes behind a tree. . (No nudity. Noted for being a non sequitur action.)
9.46 - Legion? A Roman reference?
10.0? - Necromancer Freya? A Nordic reference? Still chattering. No one's moving.
11.00 - They're just standing there babbling.
11.15 - blah blah
11.25 - blah blah blah blah
11.4? - What's this? He drew his sword . . . blahblahblahblahblahblah
12.10 - still blah blah blah blah
12.30 - WTF! Are they going to stand in that vacant wooded lot chattering through the entire picture?
13.00 - OMG they are!!!
It gets worse. Not just the movie but my writing as well. At one point I scribbled "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" and something about the actors still just standing around, which gives you an idea of what DRAGON is like. Which is surprising considering that this is from the same director responsible for Dracula's Curse, a movie that at least looked good for all it's faults. Alas it does not appear the director (who was also the writer) has learned anything from past projects nor demonstrated any artistic, much less technical, growth as a filmmaker. Thematically the premise seems to have been lifted from someone's old D&D adventure. It's totally random and lacks all semblance of logic, which is about how I remember most of those old D&D games. Alas the movie does nothing with the premise.
If pointing a video camera at random people who have been asked to deliver rambling monologues is worthy of being called filmmaking then this is Oscar material. Alas it is not thus "movie" would be the antithesis of what this is as there is virtually no movement. Considering the actors don't ever move more than 3 to 5 paces it's hard NOT to assume this was a guerilla film project shot on the sly in a park or part of a partially wooded back lot. But it wasn't, thus I have to sadly bring the hammer of the critic gods down on this one rather hard.
Was DRAGON shot in a wooded area behind the hotel at a CON? I have to admit that it sure looks it. Alas there's a making of featurette on the DVD, which is amazing in and of itself. Therein the director says, and I quote:
"Originally we started talking about doing a King Arthur . . Kind of Morgan Le Fay, Merlin kinda movie". Then actually refers to this movie as a "haunted house movie" about a "group of people stuck in one environment". How do you get stuck in a forest? Oh, right, you just have your actors stand around babbling. But wait the director, and this is mind-boggling, actually continues on to say this movie is "more like Alien or like a haunted house film . . than a big Lord of the Rings epic".
To which I say: What?
Alien was all about movement through confined spaces. It built suspense through tension and offered twists and turns through character interaction. Dragon is about a handful of actors standing in a wooded back lot babbling incessantly about a whole lot of nothing who pretty much do more of the same.
This title has received at least two R1 DVD releases, including the dollar version reviewed herein, and one R2 (UK) release. Based on online sources there does not appear to be much difference between the various editions, save perhaps in content of the extras.
DRAGON is a movie about nothing starring a handful of unknown actors who do nothing and go nowhere. Despite the cover blurb this does not appear to be the first in a trilogy nor, given how inexcusably terrible it is, is there likely to be a sequel. I just can't see The Asylum throwing good money after bad. Therefore I'd recommend DRAGON only for die hard bad movie sadomasochists.
To be fair, based on the making of featurette, it sounds like the director, who has a rather blasé attitude, was hamstrung because he tried too hard to please producers who had no solid notion or focus for what they wanted their movie project to be. I mean they started out wanting Arthurian fantasy and ended up with what, according to the director, was basically a haunted house premise ala Alien? In a forest?
In closing I leave you with the words of the production designer from the making of featurette: "Leigh Scott? Fantastic human being, even better con man."
To which I reiterate: What?!
Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan