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Fire vs ice
on 1 May 2011
I honestly feel sorry for Pitof. The guy started off with such stylistic promise, but then he directed "Catwoman" and it was all downhill from there. And his latest fantasy foray is "Fire And Ice: The Dragon Chronicles," a movie that is quite good by the standards of SyFy/Sci-Fi original movies (Alert: now damning with faint praise!), but is still a massive stewpot of bad fantasy cliches.
Carpia is a happy, clean, Renaissance Faire kind of kingdom... until a giant dragon starts periodically visiting to burn everything. With the population starving (although everybody still looks pretty plump), Princess Louisa (Amy Ackers) sets out to find a legendary banished knight who is apparently the ONLY PERSON who can slay a dragon. Sadly, the guy has died and she has to deal with his money-grubbing son Gabriel (Tom Wisdom).
So how do you kill a fire dragon? Uh... apparently you sic an ice dragon on it, although it seems Gabriel's dad didn't do that. And of course, while they're fighting the good king of Carpia will clash at last with the evil king of a neighboring kingdom. Symbolism!
Let's see, we have a Han-Soloish hero, slimy advisor, wise and quirky mentor, spunky tomboy princess, perfect king, evil king, and sinister forest inhabited by malevolent savages? It feels like Pitof mined every single cliche he could come up with for "Fire and Ice," and just added water for INSTANT EPIC FANTASY MOVIE.
Even worse, the script has painful dialogue ("I'm expecting a hollow echo when I pierce your heart"), plot holes (these kingdoms are TINY), and some really bizarre moments (behold the Medieval Movie Projector!). And while Pitof does his best to cover the seams, it's pretty obvious this was a low-budget affair -- I mean, the forest people are wannabe ninjas wearing leaves and making whooping noises!
And the acting is generally pretty horrible. Most of the competent actors like Arnold Vosloo and Tom Wisdom give stiff flat performances; it seems like they're just waiting to get paid. As for poor Amy Ackers, she is handicapped by the fact that Princess Louisa is a blithering moron -- I mean, she hides from a dragon UNDER A WOODEN WAGON, then toddles away with a preteen on her back! AND she tells total strangers in a forest, "I'm the princess!" Apparently all that royal inbreeding has had an effect.
In fact, John Rhys-Davies is the only enjoyable performance, since he has all the best lines ("Money? We like money! I remember what it looks like!"). I just wish he were starring in something better.
So what is good about this movie? The exteriors are very nice (especially the castle), and the scenery is simply lovely . And the dragons are quite unique -- giant reptilian creatures with manta-ray wings that trail ice or fire wherever they fly, and have an egg between their eyes. Kinda cool, actually.
It's good for a SciFi/SyFy movie, but that's honestly not saying much. "Fire And Ice: The Dragon Chronicles" is a big soggy mass of cliches, in a simple plot that doesn't really do much.