‘Well, I’m going into the dragons’ den with a nuclear bomb. What could possibly go wrong?’
Yes, it’s about dragons coming out of volcanoes. And it’s one of those ramshackle SyFy efforts that skimps on the (poor) CGI effects to pad out the first hour with updates on the professional and family woes of widowed vulcanologist Simon Lowell (Corin Nemec), who loses his job because the government want to cover up the dragons-coming-out-of-volcanoes thing and blame his acronymic gadget (K.R.O.N.O.S.) for causing a disaster that kills 50,000 people offscreen but also has to put up with his snippy vegetarian eco-whiner teenage daughter Heather (Mia Faith) disapproving of his long-in-the-making relationship with similarly-fired academic Carla Simms (Victoria Pratt). As if this weren’t enough, there’s also a sub-plot about egotistical newscaster Paige Summers (Heidi Fielek) and her nerdy conspiracy buff assistant Brayden (Dominika Juillet) that just runs out of steam before Paige is dragonsnatched during an interview with the college bureaucrat (Gina Holden) who fired the hero.
For the first hour or so, we have to make do with tiny glimpses of non-firebreathing dragons – and wonder why no one seems that fussed about the colleague (Sophie Tilson) who got eaten in the prologue. Eventually, Lowell hooks up with the army – bossed by gruff General Hodges (Troy Evans, pitching fair to be the Morris Ankrum of the new millennium) – and is going on expeditions to (inevitably) Bronson Caverns to plant a nuke in the dragonmother’s nest, though Heather gets the ridiculously heroic self-sacrificing bit of hiding in a tricked-up dragon cocoon (resistant to lava heat) to plant K.R.O.N.O.S. where it will speed up an eruption and somehow resolve the situation without the President needing to nuke Oregon. It’s a moment of camp that’s almost fun, and you can’t begrudge her surviving against all plausible laws of plotting of physics when the cocoon is ejected by the eruption – though Heather’s whining about preserving innocent dragons from nasty soldiers with guns even after she’s witnessed a couple of deaths is still pretty irritating in and of itself and in a kind of bash-the-libtards misunderstanding of what eco-awareness is all about.
It is earnestly explained that dragons came out of Mount St Helens in 1981 and that the alien story about Area 51 is just a cover for the dragon scandal, though no one suggests that the making of Rodan and The Giant Claw was part of the propaganda program – also, no one will suggest that Dracano is as endlessly rewatchable as Rodan and The Giant Claw are, though in the end sheer ridiculousness played reasonably straight (Nemec, Pratt and Evans especially) makes this less of an ordeal that some eruptions from the same source. There are micro-bits of dragon attacks in London, Moscow and Paris which don’t quite jibe with the script’s version of what’s happening – they feel as if they were tipped in from a showreel – and a few much-repeated cycles of uncharacterised flying things buzzing actors who basically duck behind stairs or hide in car parks while the shaky camera and an overexcited score pretend they’re in danger. Benjamin Easterday, the made-for-TV Vin Diesel, suicide bombs a dragon. Scripted by associate producer Keith Evans (Ice Road Terror, Malibu Shark Attack); directed by Kevin O’Neill (Dinocroc, Dinoshark, Sharktopus vs Pteracuda).