Review by Sean Boelman
There are plenty of movies about theme parks gone wrong after they tempt fate, but Simon West’s goofy B-movie Skyfire blends that basic premise with the disaster movie genre. While the result may not be massively memorable, there are more than enough entertaining moments to keep it from going up in flames.
The film follows a group of people who must try to escape with their lives from a theme park built around an active volcano after a sudden and deadly eruption. It’s basically Jurassic Park, but the characters’ sins are against Mother Nature, not evolution. And since this is just common sense at that point, the end result is even more ridiculous.
Like every thriller about playing God, there is a clear moral lesson that the audience is supposed to learn, and the movie uses the cheapest emotional beats to teach it. However, the film will stand out (in a bad way) for timing some of these beats comedically poorly, frequently drawing the viewer out of the action.
Wei Bu and Sidney King’s script moves along at quite the breakneck pace, which will allow general audiences looking for a mindless popcorn flick to stay interested, but also minimize any potential emotional impact it may have had. Viewers will likely never be bored, but it’s also unlikely that they will ever care much about the outcome of the story.
The character development in the movie is about as shallow can be expected from a largely soulless genre picture like this. All of the arcs in the film feel like they are born out of narrative necessity rather than genuine emotion, especially those of the white characters, which feel like a threadbare attempt to make this movie appeal to a more diverse audience.
Director Simon West was able to assemble a pretty strong international cast, but unfortunately, they aren’t given much to do that utilizes their range. Hannah Quinlivan and Xueqi Wang carry the film to the best of their abilities, but their parts are so shallow that they don’t amount to much. In his supporting role, Jason Isaacs is fun to watch but curiously exaggerated.
The production qualities of the movie are quite high, elevating this from B-movie territory into mid-level spectacle-driven action fare. The special effects are the star of the show, making this otherwise mostly minor player stand up against the blockbusters that one would normally see in the multiplex.
Skyfire isn’t a movie that is meant to be taken seriously, but as mindless entertainment, it covers all of the necessary bases. It’s largely forgettable material, though that escapism may just be exactly what some audiences are looking for right now.
Skyfire hits VOD on January 12.