When a volcanic eruption releases ancient dragon-like creatures on the unsuspecting state of Oregon, it’s up to scapegoated volcanologist Professor Simon Lowell (Corin Nemec, “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose”, “Stargate: SG-1”) to help the army prevent a chain reaction of volcanic eruptions heralding a global dragon apocalypse.
A classic case of high concept, low budget, “Dracano” is yet another ‘SyFy Original’-style movie which pushes the capabilities of cut price CGI to its very limits. Unlike, say, the “Sharknado” movies, the central premise here is at least logical (that is to say, logical in a world where dragons exist and they slumber in cocoons in the mantle of the Earth). Unfortunately, its ambitions are severely curtailed by its budget and almost at every turn you can see story, script and production decisions being dictated by the availability of funds rather than the other way around. Most of the money seems to have been spent on the dragons and, in that at least, the money has been well spent.
For the most part, Keith Shaw’s script does a decent job within its limits although towards the end there’s a scene where a new plan to defeat the oncoming dragon Armageddon is concocted with such ease that it makes the Starkiller Base attack planning scene from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” look like the intricate logistical masterwork of The Four Horsemen from “Now You See Me” and if nothing else, it provides a last gasp character survival which is even less plausible than the ‘nuke the fridge’ moment from “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull”.
The cast are actually pretty good for this kind of fare, with Nemec’s “Stargate: SG-1” TV sci-fi experience paying off as he reacts to explosions and effects which will be added in later. He has good support from veteran character actor Troy Evans (“ER”) as General Hodges and Victoria Pratt (“Mutant-X”) as the love interest. There’s a less successful B-story involving journalists trying to expose the Government’s dragon cover-up but it’s mainly there to pad out the running time which still clocks in at a trim 91 minutes.
A B-Movie ambition brought to life by a C+ production, it’s not going to be the best movie you’ve ever seen but it’s far from the worst the cheap ‘n’ cheerful straight to DVD bargain bin has to offer.