FIRE & ICE
The Romanians have imported French director Pitof. Pitof started out specialising in visual effects and then made his directorial debut with the amazing dark historical fantasy Vidocq (2001). This was enough to have Pitof imported to the US to make Catwoman (2004) but this was universally ridiculed and killed off Pitofs career. Pitof next took up Fire & Ice. For reasons unknown, he has declined credit as Pitof on screen and hides behind his given name Jean C(hristopher) Comar which means either that he was unhappy with production interference on the film or that he is trying to salvage a directorial career after the public embarrassment of Catwoman, hoping that people will think that this is a different director. He has yet to direct another film.
Fire & Ice is slim on the story side and predictable as these epic fantasies go. The plot travels through its elements in a linear way and without any surprises that go beyond the cliches of the genre. That said, Pitof (or Jean C. Comar) fleshes it out nicely. Even though the budget looks modest, he gives the film a wonderful scope and propels the drama along well. He fills the landscape with depth, texture and conviction. In particular, he gets magnificent pictorial use out of the wide-open Romanian countryside.
Especially good are the dragon effects. The first appearance of the fire dragon is something magnificently original its whole body afire as though it is not merely breathing fire but belching it from every pore and it hovers over the film with a wonderfully evil and malevolent presence. The shows dramatic capper is the fight in the skies between the fire and ice dragons, which is superbly staged by Pitof and the Romanian effects department. You do end up with the feeling that all the effects budget went into the dragon effects, leaving some of the other effects work slightly spotty the 360-degree pan around the kingdom where Arnold Vosloo sees the devastation wrought is on the shoddy side optically.
Amid the imported cast, Amy Acker, who looks for all the world like a younger and slightly leaner Mia Sara, projects intelligence and an innocent loveliness, just as she is required to. John Rhys-Davies, who has clearly been imported to give the film Lord of the Rings touchstone credibility, opens up with typically gregarious regard. Tom Wisdom is slightly quieter up against Rhys-Davies but eventually emerges with a wry likeability and handsomeness.