Nature Unleashed: Fire,
directed by Allan A. Goldstein
(Nu Image, 2004)

These Nature Unleashed films aren't exactly the gold standard of disaster movies, but this Fire entry is a darn good movie. I mean, this movie has a little bit of everything -- cave-ins, deadly falls, motorcycle stunts (and accidents), fistfights, explosions, helicopter rescue missions and, of course, one hell of a big fire. Heck, surviving a raging forest fire is the easy part for the poor dopes who find themselves in the wrong forest and the wrong time. There is one questionable aspect of the film, but I won't complain too much about that because it keeps things exciting all the way to the end. And the acting, particularly that of Bryan Genesse, is actually pretty good. One thing is certain: this is a much better film than Nature Unleashed: Avalanche and Nature Unleashed: Earthquake.

Genesse plays Jake, a forest ranger who puts the lie to any notions that forest rangers do nothing but look at trees all day. First, he narrowly escapes death trying to save some idiots looking for gold in an abandoned, condemned mine. Then, six months later, he rappels down from a helicopter to help a group of dumb kids who had egged on a biker novice to try a jump that he (and especially his now broken leg) couldn't handle. Actually, most of the blame falls on the shoulders of Marcus (Ross McCall), one of the most arrogant and self-infatuated individuals I've come across in some time. He fights Jake (both literally and figuratively) all the way as they begin to try and transport the injured Chris (Josh Cohen) out of the forest. Their overland journey is soon complicated by evidence of fire somewhere behind them, then in front of them and then on both sides. It eventually becomes obvious that this is no natural forest fire that is inexorably trying to trap them in its midst.

All kinds of great action takes place throughout the rest of the movie, as this ultimate bad day from hell just keeps throwing danger and excitement at these guys and girls. One aspect of the drama does get a little ridiculous by the end, but it makes for great drama of the "what else can go possibly go wrong?" variety. I actually thought this would be the least interesting of the Nature Unleashed movies -- compared to earthquakes and avalanches, a fire almost seems mundane -- but I was dead wrong on that score. If you see just one of the Nature Unleashed films, this is the one to see.

review by
Daniel Jolley

22 January 2011

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