"The Asylum Goes to the Dark Ages!"
I guess "Pebblequest" was too much of a boring title? Plot of this film is that a young boy who likes to smoke weed is "the chosen one" and must quest to save the world from a fiend (Brian Thompson; Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Joe Dirt) who unleashes a dragon to destroy the world. While questing to find all the pebbles, our protagonists likes to pull the pipe out and give a few puffs here and there to get some clarity. He'll smoke while even in the belly of a sea monster while questing.
This movie was funny. Brian Thompson plays a good villain. And to basically sum it up, it's a Medieval Star Wars. Brian Thompson is Emperor Palpatine and has holograms of himself popping up and uses the force to choke kill people for fun. The female protagonist is dressed almost exactly like Aya Ueto from Ryuhei Kitamura's Azumi. And Mark Singer is essentially Yoda mixed with Nick Nolte. I give this a 2.5/5.
Merlin and the War of the Dragons: 3.5/5
The Asylum went to England and shot a Dark Ages knight and swords action film. The title is misleading; "Merlin and the War of the Dragons" with the emphasis on "War of the Dragons". Merlin is an orphan being trained by a powerful wizard (Jurgen Prochnow). While his best friend convinces him to take the wizard's book to learn who his father is, tables are turned and his best friend becomes England's biggest enemy. As Merlin tries to put a stop to his sorcery, his rival is now turning people into dragons.
Dragons are probably seen for about five minutes tops throughout the film. It would probably be suiting to call the film; "Merlin Saves Humanity". The CGI for the dragons is hit and miss and Jurgen Prochnow does a great job and is in it for about half of the film. The two sirens/nymphs are cute to look at too. This Asylum film isn't that bad for ninety minutes. Also, the ending gives it the look that it's set up for a sequel/trilogy, but I guess the critics hated it enough for The Asylum to leave it unfinished. However, I give it a 3.5/5.
The transfer provided for "Dragonquest" on this Blu-ray release is problematic. After the fifty-three minute mark, things go downhill. After you have the low resolution-rendered CGI spider show up, the image starts to ghost as the young hero gets out of the cave. Almost as if they shot in the wrong frame rate. Also, shots are slowed down for dramatic effect which also shows problems with the video quality. Other than that, shots are mostly detailed and grain is decent. 2.5/5.
Merlin and the War of the Dragons: 4/5
Echo Bridge has been given a great HD transfer for the film. However, in some of the green screened and CGI renders in the film, the quality is kinda degraded. Also, some of the dragons are chopped off at the top and left hand side of the image whereas they are supposed to be flying off. Someone at The Asylum should have checked that before giving the "All Clear" on the transfer. Contrast in the colors and grain looks fantastic! I wonder if The Asylum used different equipment than the usual fare that we've seen for "I Am Omega" and "War of the Worlds 2" for example. Video on this portion of the disc gets a 4/5.
Audio presentation on "Dragonquest" is English Dolby Digital 2.0. It's soft. I had to turn up the sound as I played it back. Action is decent, sound wise. I give it a 3.5/5.
Merlin and the War of the Dragons: 3.5/5
Echo Bridge has given us a nice English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I think this must have been the same 5.1 track on the Asylum's DVD release of the film. The track is good, however, it did feel a bit subdued at times. I did have to turn it up a bit during the first few minutes of the film. However, after the first half hour, the sound is decent. I give the audio on "Merlin and the War of the Dragons" a 3.5/5.
Like most early Echo Bridge Blu-ray releases, no extras.
I picked this up for about $7 after taxes at Best Buy during Summer 2012. I would say this is a decent double feature from The Asylum. If you're looking into giving any Asylum Blu-rays a chance, go for my favorite Asylum film "I Am Omega". That double feature was good with "The Haunting of Winchester House". If The Asylum films aren't for you, skip this. I give this release a 2.5/5.