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Dragon Day
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by Jay Seaver

"Not misguided enough."
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: In some ways, I almost wish "Dragon Day" was more laughably jingoistic and ready to set up an "us vs. them" paradigm, even if that made it something truly ugly. At least then it might have a pulse and those of us who were inclined to could loudly mock it's politics. The trouble is that along with being a bland bit of sub-direct-to-video fodder, it lacks an "us". It wants to rail against something but has no identity to take pride in.

We're meant to identify with Duke Evans (Ethan Flower), I suppose, a laid-off NSA techie moving into the California house he recently inherited from his grandfather with wife Leslie (Ĺsa Wallander), daughter Emma (Hope Laibach), and sister Rachel (Jenn Gotzon) in tow. He finds a Mexican immigrant (Eloy Méndez) in residence, but soon there are bigger problems, like a massive cyber-attack from China. The People's Republic apparently intends to repossess the United States, which has refused to pay down their national debt to prop up China's sagging economy.

Put aside that it seems hard to believe that such an action would make economic or political sense to anybody but the most paranoid; it turns out that a bigger problem is that this whole plan turns out to be pretty boring, at least from co-writer/director Jeffrey Travis's chosen vantage point. We see some planes going down and some fires in the distance, but China is an almost literally faceless villain; one almost-silent officer (maybe two) toward the end an a bunch of close-ups of circuit boards marked "made in China" accompanied by the hilariously overwrought soundtrack does not a threat make. There's a sort of proxy threat in turncoats who have decided to throw in with their new overlords, but their actions just seem nonsensical.

Sure, maybe the point that Travis and company are trying to make is that America has gone soft, and that's why the barely-there invaders could just roll in without any noteworthy resistance, but what's the contrast? Duke, who is an inattentive father and something of a jerk from minute one? Albert Grimes (William Knight), the crotchety old friend of Duke's grandfather who is, naturally, well-armed and seems like he's been holding in his railing against the commies for twenty years and seems happy to finally be vindicated? America doesn't seem to stand for anything in Dragon Day, even among those apparently meant to represent its best; it's just a bunch of selfish people who are completely helpless when things get tough, a cynical point of view that leaves the movie empty.

And it's not even the sort of empty that has some thrills on the surface; there's not really anything close to an actual exciting action sequence. One bit with some looters going after the Grimes house has a bit of potential, but most of the movie is the result of someone who wants to project danger without having the resources or skill to shoot anything more than people pointing guns or maybe typing frantically. It's deeply dull.

There's not even much in the way of camp value beyond a score that is almost absurdly on-the-nose in signaling what the audience should be feeling. Most of the cast is just capable enough to be bland, with even the ones who overact not exactly chewing the scenery in entertaining fashion. The camerawork is steady and capable. Travis and co-writer Matt Patterson don't even have anybody go off on an absurd monologue about why this was so easy.

And that's just boring. Now, maybe Travis, Patterson, et al, weren't trying to make a political point, but just a thriller with some contemporary elements, but either way, they failed. "Dragon Day" is ridiculous, but it's also dull, and that's the much greater soon.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=26291&reviewer=371
originally posted: 02/15/14 14:30:36
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2014 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/09/16 Nick Moore I think this is as a great movie up there with 1984. 5 stars
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