Genre: TV Mini-Series – Drama
Director: Paul Shapiro
Writer: Michael Vickerman
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 176 minutes
The earth rocks in the explosive heart-pounding miniseries, Ring of Fire, erupting on DVD June 11 from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment and Sonar Entertainment. The action-packed disaster movie features an all-star cast including Michael Vartan (TV’s “Alias,” Columbiana), Emmy Award® Winner Terry O’Quinn (TV’s “Lost,” “Hawaii Five-O”) and Lauren Lee Smith (TV’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”). The fiery thriller originally premiered on ReelzChannel as a two-night movie event in March 2013, kicking off the doomsday film series featuring five epic 4-hour experiences.
When a volcanic eruption happens in a small town, Dr. Matthew Cooper (Vartan) and environmentalist Emily (Lee Smith) trace the event back to unsafe drilling done by the oil company owned by Emily’s father (O’Quinn). They soon realize that the explosion is just the first in a series that could trigger the dangerous “Ring of Fire” that contains most of the world’s volcanoes. Dr. Cooper and Emily are determined to stop the cataclysmic chain of events before the Earth is swallowed whole, causing a devastating apocalypse.
I inadvertently took a doe-eyed look at the casting of Terry O’Quinn (LOST), Michael Vartan (Alias), and Ian Tracey (Continuum) and wrapped them up in the doomsday premise of massive action surrounding the eruption of “Ring of Fire” volcanoes and built my expectations up too high. That is breaking my first rule of entertainment. Don’t let your expectations get too high in anticipation of any show or movie, because statistically whatever you’re watching won’t live up to those expectations.
Terry O’Quinn (Oliver Booth) was great in Ring of Fire as the oil tycoon with a heart of gold. I can easily say that all of his scenes were enjoyable to watch and were easily the best part of the show. While Michael Vartan (Dr. Matthew Cooper) and Ian Tracey (Hector Janen) did what I can only say is the best with what they were given, and I just can’t say that they were given much to work with.
So let’s get to where I felt the mini-series went wrong. The story is downright outlandish but falls short of embracing it the way other outlandish stories like Syfy’s Piranhaconda does, and winds up taking itself way too seriously, but I can’t say that there’s a whole lot of fault in the writing. The majority of the first hour, in the show’s set up, was spent asking me to sympathize with environmental activist Emily Booth (Lauren Smith) who spends way too much time whining and falls short of even being sympathetic much less likable. The second half is full of action where the science is written well enough.
The action isn’t all that well directed, written, or shot, with volcanic debris falling only on paths of mass exodus driving or running while keeping the outlying areas free. The sole romantic moment we witness is a full 70 seconds of awkward face patting that ends in a meaningful hug, and a teacher’s frantic (after showing stunningly little emotion towards her class of students facing certain peril) 911 call takes at least 26 thumb taps on a smartphone to get the phone dialed. I’m not usually a detail spotting person, but these things just caused me to have an audible outburst. That and every single bar scene made me sick to my stomach having been filmed with the same shaky camera that would have made more sense during the volcanic tremors.
I can’t say that it felt low budget though I’m certain it was. The special effects (except for the falling debris I mentioned earlier) weren’t bad and looked believable on screen, and Terry O’Quinn really did well with the scenes he was in, trouble is he’s isn’t in much of the movie. Not nearly enough.
“Ring of Fire” DVD Technical Information
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen