JANUARY 17, 2008
I really wanted to go see the bafflingly titled Dragon Wars: D-War in theaters, but I never got the chance. A big destructive monster movie will always play better in a theater than at home, but oh well. However, I will note that had I seen the film in theaters, I wouldn’t have rented it, and thus I would have gone longer without using my subwoofer, which I realized had been switched off (I got suspicious when an explosion went off in the movie and it sounded very flat). Once I turned it back on, I discovered that this movie has one of the best surround tracks I’ve heard in a while, so thanks!
But like I said, if I had seen it before, I wouldn’t have rented it, because it’s just not very good. The monster action is fine, and it’s nice to see downtown Los Angeles get destroyed for once AS Los Angeles, and not Manhattan or just some generic city (like in Transformers). When they fake NY or whatever, they always have to keep the shots close to prevent distinguishing marks from giving away the location, but that’s not the case here – during the big attack there are a few aerial shots that show the surrounding mountains, Hollywood, etc.
Sadly, the scenes that AREN’T about giant snake monsters whaling on each other are among the dumbest in recent movie memory. The main guy (Max from Roswell) can’t act worth a shit, and the female lead isn’t much better. He plays a reporter who has the most access I’ve ever seen in a film; at one point a nurse totally breaks patient confidentiality once she discovers he is press. Worse, they discover that they are the reincarnations of some sort of Korean spirit or whatever, and that the dragons are after them, and a whole bunch of other mystical mumbo jumbo, and never ONCE do they question it! If Robert Forster sat down next to me and told me that I had to meet a girl named Sarah and keep her from the evil Baraki and Yoo Gi Ho so that she could become the Good Moogi before she turned 20, I’d punch him right in the fucking face. Mainly for being in Rise: Blood Hunter, but also because what he just told me made no sense whatsoever. But yet, everyone buys it, no questions asked. Even Roswell guy’s friend, who is played by Darryl from The Office; the character you would expect to be like “you’re crazy!” is totally fine with all this nonsense. In fact, he’s more incredulous to Roswell’s request to simply find the girl than he is to all the stuff involving dragons and the like. Also, his character disappears from the film TWICE and no one seems to care either time.
The movie offers some highlights though. Not only does it have the rare “Flashback inside a flashback” scene (actually a lengthy sequence), but even THAT has a flashback built into it. Triple flashback!!! And the human villains sound much like Jabba the Hutt when they talk, so that’s nice. Steve Jablonsky delivers another good score (3 for 3 in 2007 – I think I’ll forgive him for The Island now), and for the most part, the effects are quite good. There’s really some bad compositing during the finale though, which is odd because it’s just a sky and wasteland type thing (giant snake wrapped around an LA skyscraper – OK; but the same snake flying around the Outworld looks fake?). Also, Chris Mulkey is in it.
And hey, no one watches these movies for the story. It delivers on the monster action, so in that regard it works. I just wish it wasn’t SO dumb in between.
What say you?