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‘This might be the safest place on Earth!” Uh oh. A flamboyant entrepreneur is reassuring a group of tourists in a glass elevator at his volcano theme park – built on an active volcano in the Pacific Rim. The tourists are about to descend 150 metres inside the volcano. A cute kid pushes her nose up against the glass in wide-eyed wonder. Double uh oh.
Skyfire is China’s first big budget disaster movie, an earnest emotional blockbuster with disappointing special effects that barely register on the Richter scale of excitement. What it does have, however, is a credible female hero in the Tom-Cruise-dangling-out-of-a-helicopter-in-Ray-Bans mould. She is Meng Li (Hannah Quinlivan), a hot-headed young volcanologist who works at the theme park. When the volcano suddenly erupted 20 or so years ago, it killed her scientist mother. The next eruption isn’t due for 150 years, but Meng Li has detected unusual activity in the core. The park’s owner is entrepreneur Jack Harris, played by English actor Jason Isaacs with a Trumpy orange tan. His scenes are mostly in English and the movie is directed by a Brit, Simon West (Con Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider). Harris won’t listen to Meng Li’s concerns. “Give the guests free drink” he snaps as the volcano starts spewing; he’s a textbook corporate bad guy.
Actually, all the characters in the film are thumbnail-sketches – even Meng Li, who is driven to finish the research project her mother began on the volcano. Her estranged dad, also a scientist, shows up for a bit of family healing and father-daughter heroics, rescuing holidaymakers and folk from a nearby village. The best action set-piece is a vertigo-sufferer’s worst nightmare, with passengers leaping from one cable car to another mid-air. But mostly this isn’t the thrill-ride you might be hoping for. There’s plenty of fire but, oddly, not much heat.
• Released on 23 November on digital formats.
Source: The Guardian
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