So anyway, recently I saw a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie: Fire Serpent. Beware of spoilers.
I admit, I only decided to watch this movie because of the actors, who included Nicholas Brendon (Xander from Buffy), Sandrine Holt (Li Ann from Once a Thief), Randolph Mantooth (Gage from Emergency) and Robert Beltran (Chakotay from Voyager).
I was not disappointed.
Of course, I wasn't disappointed because I expected a really stupid movie. :-P Sentient fire that hitches a ride in people's backpacks.
The acting was actually decent though. Really all of the actors deserved to be in a better movie. :-)
One thing that bothered me was that I actually thought Nicholas Brendon's character, "Jake", was utterly superfluous. He was the newbie fire fighter who gets to be all disbelieving and skeptical when Mantooth's "Dutch" tells him all about the scary fire creatures. Later, he gets to be earnest when trying to convince Sandrine Holt's FBI character, "Chris" about the danger.
Honestly, the movie would have worked just as well without him. "Chris" would have met "Dutch" anyway, because she and her boss (Beltran's character) suspected him of arson. She is already disbelieving and skeptical. He is already more than able to explain the situation. There was really no need for the middle man.
The only real useful thing "Jake" does is in the end battle, and well, as it's that sort of movie. And honestly, there's no reason "Dutch" couldn't have done that as well. (Mantooth appears to be in quite good shape for his age. Easily still believable in an action role.)
I know some folks criticize movies for inserting a young white American man into a cast when it's really not necessary. Sometimes I agree with this critique, sometimes I don't. In this case though, it was really very obvious. Jake contributes NOTHING to the overall narrative! (The actor does a good job with what he has, but really.)
There were some good points though. Surprisingly.
First: Of the four lead characters, only one was a white man. Sandrine Holt is half Chinese. And both Mantooth and Beltran have Native American ancestry.
Second: All the interrogation scenes were really good, if too short. They could have done a whole movie of just Robert Beltran and Randolph Mantooth being cryptic and ominous at each other across an interrogation room table and I would have enjoyed it.
Third: They managed to have a scene with two Native American-identified actors and neither had to act like the stereotypical mystical Indian stereotype.
There were of course bad points, such as the fact that the damn thing makes no sense at all. The time line is completely fucked. The gratuitous flashback to 1966 doesn't even TRY to pretend to be 1966. (The clothes, hairstyles, everything are blatantly modern.)
Also the dude playing young Dutch is awful, and a terrible casting job. But then, I might have been more open-minded if I hadn't been watching a lot of Emergency. (I've seen John Gage, and you, sir, are no John Gage.)
They try to explain how Dutch knows so much about these things, but it doesn't make a lot of sense considering that this thing kills anyone in close enough contact. I just figure he pulls the shit out of his ass and everyone believes him by virtue of the fact that he used to be in Emergency.
That said, it's hard to seriously complain about flaws in a movie like this because...well, it's a Sci-Fi channel movie. You kind of get what you come in for.