If there's one fact every living creature can agree upon, it's that LIFE IS HARD. Life's been hard for I don't even know how long—ever since hot lava, at least. Probably even longer than that. Point is, every day is a struggle and that's especially true for anybody with a television. There are too many things to watch! And not enough time to watch them! Especially with all the things we have to deal with day in and day out (hot lava, etc.). So please enjoy our newest column, WE'LL WATCH IT FOR YOU. Consider it a virtual viewing experience of television you'll no longer need to bother with!
Today we'll kick things off with no less than a SYFY ORIGINAL! And believe me, Age of the Dragons is as inessential as it gets. If you missed its world premiere on Saturday night, don't worry, you missed nothing. Or, if you DID manage to see it, then let's commiserate!
Age of the Dragons is not to be confused with the hugely successful video game franchise Dragon Age, but I'm sure it's totally cool with the producers if you DO mistake the movie for the game. No, instead this thing is based on fancy literature or whatever:
That's right, it's Moby Dick, but instead of a white whale biting off Ahab's leg and sinking his ship, it's a white dragon burning Ahab's face real bad and eating his sister. Except boring! Seriously, it's like the screenwriters took the original text of Moby Dick, cut out everything except the long conversations, did a find-and-replace of "whale" for "dragon," and then the actors added a few extra beats of silence between every line of dialogue. There's nothing like spending ninety minutes watching twenty-five minutes of story! Anyway, I don't want to oversell it, let's just jump in!
We began with two African-American children walking through a field, and right off the bat you knew this was a different kind of fantasy world: African-American characters in a FANTASY story? Imagine that! Now, I'm not saying that fantasy writers are racists, but… your move, George R.R. Martin.
Anyway, a terrible voiceover told us that the boy was Captain Ahab and the super bored-looking girl was his sister.
Tragedy struck one day when she snuck off to kneel in the creek (or whatever).
And who should sneak up behind her but a total RASCAL of a dragon.
Ahab ran over to see why she was screaming so much and his sister was just chillin' in the creek, basically peacin' out.
Ahab was TICKED at the dragon for biting his sister a ton.
But the dragon was just as pissed at Ahab for hassling him, and that's how the creek area ended up smelling like burnt hair for a few days.
Flash-forward to some low-budget RenFaire tent where a couple of bros were chatting up an old man.
The main bro, Ishmael, was the one providing the terrible narration earlier. This guy playing him had a pretty terrible Southern California accent, like Keanu Reeves but more dead-eyed. Plus he had this "foreign" friend named Queequeg from some made-up land who was following Ishmael around like a servant or whatever? Who knows. He spent most of the movie just getting high in the background, so good for him.
Vinnie Jones was there, because he'll apparently appear in anything? He's like the modern-day Udo Kier. Anyway, his character was a salty Englishman who heckled Ishmael and then challenged him to a harpoon-throwing contest? We're only five minutes into this thing and I'm already confused. Why is everyone carrying around a harpoon in a landlocked town? I guess that's what they use instead of swords in this world? Fine, Age of the Dragons!
So Ishmael beat Vinnie Jones, obviously.
And they ruined a pretty cool poster in the process. Oh well. So then Ishmael was best friends with Vinnie Jones.
Meanwhile a mysterious lady in a fur coat walked among the common folk, just sussing out the situation, undressing Ishmael with her eyes probably. She has a thing for dyed stubble.
Oh and guess what? She was Rachel, the daughter of Captain Ahab, and you could tell she was tough because she beat up a couple of vagrants a few minutes later. Anyway, remember in Moby Dick the book how Captain Ahab had a smokin' hot daughter? That was the best part of Moby Dick, for sure.
So Rachel invited Ishmael to join the crew of the Pequod, which MIGHT have been a ship, but it wasn't clear, and Ishmael and his foreign friend accepted the offer.
The Pequod ended up being some giant dump truck that drives around on logs? WHAT? This was Captain Ahab's vessel that he used to catch dragons. But it was also the most efficient way to travel back then, of course! Duh!
Except for the so-far unseen Captain Ahab, the rest of the crew was only there to reap a profit from something called Dragon Vitriol, which is the extremely valuable liquid that dragons use to make fire. But apparently Ishmael, a person who lives in this world, had never heard of it—so Rachel had to demonstrate its explosive properties by destroying an entire jar of this very valuable liquid that they all needed to sell in order to make a living.
TONS of storytelling. TONS. And don't worry, it rarely, if ever, factored into the main plot.
Whoops! Co-ed living quarters are awkward!
Meet your captain!
I gotta say, Danny Glover put in a very special performance in this film. That makeup, those line readings! He was so weird! Half the time it looked like he was reading cue cards and the other half of the time he just looked straight-up confused. But you know something? It WORKED.
It was pretty clear from the get-go that Ahab was nuts and that nobody really understood what the big deal was with that white dragon he was constantly talking about.
His first mate Starbuck kept trying to talk some sense into him. Nice try!
The next day they all went dragon-hunting and ran into just a normal green dragon.
Everyone took it pretty hard. He was the life of the Pequod!
If Ishmael hadn't frozen up he might've killed the dragon before Vinnie Jones got charred. But it was foolish for Ishmael to feel guilty—Vinnie Jones was only getting paid for four days of work, so he was gonna have to die sooner or later.
Queequeg, being a foreigner with mystical ties to dragons, enacted a solemn ritual tying Ishmael to the dragon he'd slaughtered. It was very moving and not at all disgusting.
This was the best part of the whole movie, if only because it was the first time we saw the color red so far?
Anyway, then the Dragon Vitriol harvester carefully dug out the sac of explosive fluid and demonstrated its volatile properties by immediately smashing it into a small crate.
Later there was a funeral for Vinnie Jones, but I guess everyone was kinda tired so nobody bothered to dig a grave. Oh well, we've all been there.
Meanwhile Ahab was getting VERY excited about tracking down that dragon. It was hilarious how often Danny Glover's performance kept verging on "hobo."
Queequeg was kinda over it at this point.
The Dragon Vitriol harvester was so mad about Vinnie Jones getting killed that even a fun game of Pile of Rocks wasn't cheering him up.
Ishmael enjoyed a very sensual wound-stitching by an absolutely charisma-free hottie.
She told a story about how her biological parents were killed while helping Ahab find the white dragon. Oh, wait a minute, Ahab WASN'T her biological father?! But she basically looked like Danny Glover in a wig! My mistake.
This guy attacked Ishmael with his knife because I guess it was just time.
Queequeg stepped in like the mystical brown warrior type that he is. What a cool bro. I mean, yeah he looks sorta like Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild, but I bet THIS GUY wouldn't die from eating poisoned berries, am I right? (Spoiler alert)
Hey, what's this? A mama dragon and her baby dragon just enjoying an afternoon flight. It looked so peaceful and serene.
Whoops! It turned out the white dragon was a bit of a cannibal. Sorry lady!
The Pequod was hilariously tiny in certain shots, just this tiny little thing slowly rolling across the tundra.
Ahab chanced upon the dead mama dragon and reached into its dead flesh and pulled out a tooth. It was a clue!
There was no dialogue to suggest it, but the subtext of this whole scene was that Ahab probably smelled like urine.
NOBODY was amused.
Ugh, he was like a way less fun Tracy Morgan.
So later the crew came upon this mountainside nest of dragons, like thirty deep. And of course Ahab's orders were to murder every last one of them. Fine, all in a day's work for a—whatever job this is.
I will say this, though: Those dragons were ADORABLE. They looked like something out of Dark Crystal!
I was already rooting against these people and that was BEFORE they put on their POINTY HOODED ROBES.
Yikes! Who ARE these people?
So but yeah the dragons were all sleeping, probably having really fun dreams, full of joy and wonderment.
Luckily for the murderers, when you stab a sleeping dragon it will immediately die without making a noise. Killing several dozen of them is a cinch! It's amazing these people have been doing it the hard way all this time.
Queequeg was over it, of course. His mystical people's ancestors were frowning upon him for sure. He was like, "Maybe Quizno's will give me my job back."
So when they got back, Ahab was like, "Cool, thanks for committing a massacre, now forget about getting paid, we got a white dragon to slay" and everyone was like "OH COME ON."
Queequeg was basically crying, but then he seriously just excused himself and fell into a coma for a few weeks. I NEED to start doing that. That is the best thing to do in most circumstances!
Starbuck tried to commit a mutiny (can a mutiny be committed when the ship is a wood-paneled garbage truck?) and ended up getting all stabbed by Ahab.
After that little melee, Ishmael's hair was mussed and he had blood on his nose and also he was chained to the back of the Pequod. We've all had those days.
Lucky he was out there, because almost immediately some terrible burglars came a callin'.
Oh no, they were stealing the glowing blue Dragon Vitriol that is HIGHLY EXPLOSIVE and therefore stored on a SHELF inside a SHAKY VEHICLE.
When Ishmael tried to intervene, the burglars beat him up BAD (typical Ishmael) but luckily Queequeg chose that moment to wake up from his coma and SLAP EVERYBODY.
Even Rachel ran outside in her nightgown and started bustin' chins. Ishmael just sort of laid on the ground and pretended to sleep? Not sure. Ishmael was not the toughest guy.
All the ruckus woke up Ahab who immediately harpooned a burglar. That's just how Ahab rolls though.
Queequeg yelled at Ahab. It was embarrassing for everyone, kind of like when you go to your friend's house and they yell at their parents in front of you. Oh fine, get it out, Queequeg, you've been through a lot.
But the Pequod drama wasn't done yet, because the angry dude still needed to sexually assault someone at knifepoint. Sorry Rachel! (By the way, cool job, screenwriters, of making Rachel a butt-kicking heroine up until the point where she suddenly becomes a damsel in distress!) Anyway, Ishmael saves her, of course.
So then Ishmael was obviously back in Ahab's good graces, but you know, Ahab had a bit of a one-track mind and immediately turned the conversation back toward the WHITE DRAGON WHAT ATE MY SISTER.
Something about that assault must've really unlocked Rachel's affections because before you knew it, the synth orchestra was SOARING, telling us rather than showing us that these two were IN LOVE. Awesome, these two were just so interesting, I was really rooting for them, you know?
Oh and the villain dude was out running around in the snow, thinking he was alone but he WAS NOT ALONE.
There was a dragon IN THE BUSHES, you guys. This was a dragon skill that we had not learned about yet.
But that dragon was NOT about to chill in those bushes all day, he had jerks to eat.
So then Ahab informed everyone it was time to start getting ready for the climax, so everyone jumped out of the Pequod and started climbing up the mountain where the dragon lived.
The whole movie there were tons of vague mentions of Queequeg following some kind of prophecy, so finally he was like, "My prophecy is to just relax down here while you guys go into the cave." In my opinion Queequeg was the only smart person in this movie.
Inside the cave, Rachel ended up having a bittersweet reunion with her birth father.
It turned out that her dad had NOT been killed by the white dragon all those years ago, but Ahab had harpooned him for being a coward. Rachel could tell because Ahab had left his own personalized harpoon stuck in the corpse. Way to cover your tracks, guy!
Then Ahab explained via flashback that he hated cowards because his own cowardice got his sister killed. But wait a minute, wasn't she was basically dead when he found her? He was simply ashamed that he'd run away after the fact?
Oh Ahab, you crazy old coot. I don't understand you sometimes!
Rachel was all mad about having been raised by the man who'd murdered her birth parents, so she taught Ahab a lesson by throwing a harpoon in to the ground between his feet. LESSON LEARNED.
But Ahab was NOT about to take that kind of treatment. So he did what he felt was right, and that was to throw his harpoon at QUEEQUEG who had randomly entered the cave for no reason?
Ishmael was all sad in his bro heart. NOW who was gonna travel the world with him smoking out and scoping wenches?
Then wouldn't you know it, the white dragon came back! He seemed pretty nonchalant about all the humans just hanging out in his home. But you know who else acted pretty chill? Ahab!
Just kidding, he went all crazy, stabbing the dragon a ton and shouting at everybody.
Luckily he got all tangled up in some random rope loop he'd been dragging on the ground? Who knows. It happened in the novel and that's good enough for these writers.
So of course the dragon flew away and bumped Ahab against all of the cave walls on its way out. At this point I was starting to think that maybe that dragon was just a big metaphor for Ahab's vengeance and in the end it got the best of him. What do you think? Should I write a paper about that?? When are office hours again?
Oh yeah, then these two ran outside to watch Ahab get swatted against the mountains or whatever. Also, in the voiceover Ishmael was bragging about being the only person who lived to tell Ahab's tale, except Rachel was standing right next to him? Uh-oh, watch out Rachel!
I apologize if this photorecap made this movie seem interesting. It was not interesting! But there you have it, now you can discuss Age of the Dragons at PTA meetings and cocktail parties with nothing less than supreme confidence! WE WATCHED IT FOR YOU!
... Did YOU watch this thing?
... How do you rank it against other Syfy Original Movies?
... Do you wish you could ride in their giant wooden jalopy?
... Is it safe to bring Dragon Vitriol to a rave?