"Fireball" DVD Review

7/06/2010 Posted by Admin


DVD Review

By our guest blogger, Jeremy Wilkinson

At first, the recent DVD release of “Fireball” left me a bit confused. Among its faults is an inability to decide whether it wants to take itself seriously. While I was scratching my head, I took a quick glance through the Internet and made a discovery. Apparently, “Fireball” was a SciFi Channel (their change to SyFy is not allowed in my brain) original movie. Ah ha! Now I understand why the quality is lacking.

Tyler Dravin (Aleks Paunovic) is an ex-football player who, after beating up an irritating sports journalist, finds himself in a jail cell. A fire breaks out while he's trapped inside his cell, but miraculously, he survives, albeit with third-degree burns all over his body. Lexa Doig (“Andromeda”) is Ava, a fire inspector who investigates the prison fire. While there, she meets federal agent Lee Cooper (Ian Somerhalder), who was supposed to take Dravin to a federal court (Dravin has a history of violence). Somehow, Dravin's burns are healed and he can now create fire at will. Ava and Lee work together to try and find the escaped psychopath before too many innocent lives are lost.

The two leads work well with each other. Doig and Somerhalder manage to have enough chemistry to keep their interactions from falling flat. Geeks will appreciate their inclusion in this movie. Doig even plays her walking textbook of character similarly to her role as the A.I. of the "Andromeda Ascendent." Paunovic overacts a bit in places, but does manage to garner some sympathy for the character at the beginning of the narrative.

"Fireball" clips along at a decent pace. Even the scenes involving scientific and pseudo-scientific explanations don't get boring. One big plus for the movie is that the aforementioned explanations are not too far fetched -- you can allow yourself to believe them for the course of the movie (as long as you don't think too hard).

Unfortunately, "Fireball's" many faults mar what would have otherwise been a guilty pleasure. While the two leads carry themselves well, the writers really should have looked over the script a couple more times. Ava and Lee's coolness in the face of everything going on comes off as odd in places. They don't seem very shocked that there is a man who can create balls of fire. In addition, there is a romantic sub-plot that's hinted at but goes nowhere. A single scene is shown that flirts with possibility, but nothing meaningful comes after.

Like every other movie produced by the SciFi Channel, the computer-generated graphics are nothing special. Nearly all the special effects are on the same level as the first PlayStation. At certain points, the CG is so bad, you either have to chuckle or roll your eyes. No fireball thrown in the movie is ever believable as a herald of death.

Speaking of fireballs, not too many are thrown around for the first 45 minutes or so, which is too bad. In addition, nearly every death is done off-screen. Having one scene where a charred body is found would have been a good set-up. But when the first manifestation of Dravin's powers involves a car exploding at his touch, you expect more to be shown. The DVD menu leads one to think there will be many shots of Dravin committing acts of destruction, but it's quite tame overall. Instead of creating a sense of dread by leaving the horror to the audience's imagination, it is a confusing creative decision.

Discrepancy between expectation and result seems to be a theme "Fireball." At times, it tries to take itself seriously. This is undermined by dialogue like: "Do you believe in God? Well, he doesn't believe in you." Really, Mr. Dravin. I would like to know exactly how you know that. Another scene involves Dravin using one arm to toss a huge man 10 feet. Sure, he did so from an elevated position, but that little hiccup brought me out of the movie.

"Fireball" could have been a lot more entertaining with only a few changes. SciFi has put out some fun movies in the past. While no movie that channel has put out has ever been 'good,' many were saved thanks to purposely hammy acting and plot lines. "Fireball" can't walk the line between serious and tongue-in-cheek. For a SciFi channel flick, it's just okay.

Grade: C

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