What I'm Watching: Age of the Dragons
This was a surprising little gem.
Basically, what AotD is, is a modern day retelling of one of the greatest stories ever written, Moby Dick. Except whales have been replaced with dragons.
And the replacement TOTALLY works.
Okay, the Pequod now being a land-based vessel with no obvious means of moving is a bit strange, but it's a fantasy movie with dragons! They're harvesting their burny juice! Who cares how the tank moves?
This movie has been largely panned, and has a mere 3.3 on IMDB, and it is SO not deserving of it. It isn't great, but it is NOT THAT BAD. I'd give it at LEAST a five, and easily a six.
Danny Glover as Captain Ahab is amazing. As he usually is. He chews the scenery a bit, but such an obsessive character as Ahab can get away with it.
The movie has been slammed for just being a 'find and replace' of Moby Dick with dragons, and that's maybe a bit true, but the story still works. And the fantastical nature of it translates well to this new world. Something about it just moves well from whales to dragons. And really, they make no secret the movie is Moby Dick with dragons. All the character names are there, there are lines of dialogue. It's silly to slam it for that. It's like blasting West Side Story for being too similar to Romeo & Juliet. ;) Although, this is no West Side Story, not by a long shot. Still.
I wonder if someone saw that bit on old maps, "Here there be dragons" and thought of whales, and Moby Dick, and it somehow morphed into this.
AotD is far from a great movie, but it has solid roots, is a good adaptation of a classic work, and is actually pretty interesting.
I might be more critical of the film if I was more familiar with Moby Dick. I've read Melville's book, but it was a LONG time ago, so all that's really in my brain are those parts that are inside our collective cultural subconscious. There's a lot of narration by Ishmael, and I wonder just how much of that was lifted directly from the source material and left untouched, aside from the obvious use of 'dragon'. If a lot of it is, it really shows just how well it works, and just how well the original holds up.
It really is a lesson in just why the original is a classic, and why the themes are timeless and always useful.
Oh yeah, and the effects are actually pretty good, for a direct to video release.
Age of the Dragons isn't a high recommendation, but you can do worse, and if it comes on tv, I'd watch it again.
And hey, the movie opens up with a young Ahab trying to PUNCH A DRAGON IN THE FACE. Punch. A dragon. In the face. That's just bad-ass, even if he missed.