I’ve always been a sucker for disaster movies. In walks ‘Skyfire‘, a disaster movie so wild and ridiculous, it combines cliché genre tropes from the biggest blockbusters and runs a marathon with it.
This first ever volcano themed Chinese film is set on a tropical island at the “Ring of Fire”. Ever since volcanologist Meng (Hannah Quinlivan – Ant-Man and the Wasp) lost her mother during the fastest volcanic eruption in history twenty years ago, she’s made it her life goal to develop “ZhuQue”, a system that can predict volcanic activities in the hope of saving lives from another catastrophic disaster. Her father Tao (Xueqi Wang – Iron Man 3) has a bad feeling and comes to the island to stop Meng. On that same island, a reckless luxury resort owner uses the volcano as a gimmick to attract tourists, heedless of the dangers. Meanwhile, Zhengnan (Shawn Dou – Under the Hawthorn Tree) from Meng’s team brings his girlfriend Jiahui (An Bai) to a cavern, ready to propose. Not much later, the volcano erupts, forcing Meng and Tao in overcoming their suppressed emotions and use their scientific ingenuity to save people. It’s a race against the clock, while the volcano causes death and apocalyptic destruction.
Skyfire is a thrill ride for most of its runtime. Many will easily reach for the obvious comparison to the first half of ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom‘, as the action also takes place on an island during a volcanic eruption, and they’re not wrong for doing so. But in fact, Simon West‘s (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) newest film nods at Hollywood while borrowing from ‘Volcano‘, ‘Dante’s Peak‘, ‘2012‘ and many other disaster classics while giving a seriously sadistic ‘Final Destination‘-vibe. People die the most horrible deaths, jumping between out-of-control monorails, getting blown from a jet ski mid-air, or simply getting electrocuted in a luxury pool… At one point, it becomes so absurd, you can’t help but laugh out loud when a South African Jason Isaacs (you could’ve told me he was Australian, and I would’ve believed you) becomes some sort of white saviour to a girl in peril, delivering the most over-the-top cheesy dialogue.
For those wondering if any of the scientific lingo and/or any of the events are factual – who cares?! This is a popcorn flick pur sang. The second act is by far one of the most entertaining pieces of action cinema I’ve seen in a very long time. The visual effects aren’t always as crystal clear as you might hope for, but the amount of pyrotechnics and practical effects are of such high quality, I didn’t have a problem looking past that “minor” detail.
There’s plenty of fiery action to distract you from the melodramatic writing and okay acting, but with a runtime of just 97 minutes, Skyfire flies by like a bullet, without ever boring its viewers. It’s been a while since we’ve last seen a fun disaster flick, making Skyfire a nice distraction while enduring the ongoing pandemic.
Available On Demand January 12, 2021
Review – ‘Skyfire’
Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), January 4, 2021. Rating: TBC. Running time: 97 min.
PRODUCTION: A Screen Media Films release of a Meridian Entertainment, Base FX, Gosdom Entertainment, Production Capital production. Producers: Chris Bremble, Jib Polhemus, Emma Shan Wang, Jennifer Dong. Executive producers: Ruoqing Fu, John Hughes, Jacob Li, Kevin Robl, Aaron Shershow, Dai Siyuan, Tong Zhou.
CREW: Director: Simon West. Screenplay: Wei Bu, Sidney King. Editing: Paul Martin Smith. Cinematography: Alan Caudillo. Score: Pinar Toprak.
WITH: Xueqi Wang, Hannah Quinlivan, Shawn Dou, Jason Isaacs, An Bai, Lingchen Ji, Liang Shi.