Reign of Fire

"OK"

Reign of Fire Review


Pity the dragon. When not building lame adventures around the mythical beasts (Dungeons & Dragons), filmmakers have saddled the poor creatures with the smooth baritone stylings of Sean Connery (Dragonheart). Reign of Fire, director Rob Bowman's grim vision of a ravaged future, doesn't completely reverse the negative trend, but it does borrow enough recognizable elements of contradictory genres to fashion a passable monster mash.

In the not-too-distant future, London drillers uncover a dragon's lair far below the surface, awakening a horde of slumbering beasts and triggering a mass invasion. The creatures pillage our planet, destroying every major city from Paris to New York. We're not shown the attacks, but rather a montage of headlines from newspapers.

By the year 2020, very little of what we consider the Earth remains. Quinn (Christian Bale), who leads a community in hiding outside the boundaries of London, has convinced his followers they can outlast the dragons, since fighting them has so far proved futile. Television producer Mark Burnett might call it Survivor to the nth degree, but it's a grisly existence, with the fear of attack ever present.

Alternate options arise in the form of a band of American marauders, who arrive at Quinn's castle seeking refuge. Their leader, Van Zant (Matthew Mcconaughey), subscribes to a suicidal theory that dragons can be hunted instead of avoided. He sports a tooth the size of his thumb from a dragon he felled in Kansas, proving the beasts can be bested. Van Zant's armed for a war, but Quinn is less than enthused to use his clan for dragon feed.

McConaughey appears to have the most fun with his part. Chomping an extinguished cigar and bulging his eyeballs out beyond his bald cranium, he stares right through the fire-breathers, focusing instead on the greener pastures they're keeping him from. If there were a serious market for post-apocalyptic dragonslaying pictures, McConaughey could carve himself a new career path. Bale, on the other hand, barely registers. Hidden behind a tuft of hair and a five-month-old scruff of beard, his face lacks fire and passion. McConaughey's eyes dance wildly, while Bale's choose to sit this one out.

Perhaps he sensed how artificially macho the screenplay had become. The dialogue couldn't be worse, requiring characters to spout, "We can do this easy, or we can do this real easy." Reign is about as manly as films get nowadays without taking place in prison. When Quinn and Van Zant fail to compromise on the direction of the community, they brawl. It solves little, but ratchets up the already high testosterone level.

Van Zant's plan for capturing dragons provides the film with its coolest sequence. Skydivers dubbed "archangels" plummet from a helicopter and battle the fire-breathers in mid-air. The creative idea juices the proceedings and rivals any other generic attack scenes in the film.

Still, Reign remains a dragon movie where the dragons fail to impress. Bowman initially hides his creations, obscuring them by clouds or plumes of smoke. But the effect never generates the desired suspense a la Jaws, instead feeling like a budget-preserving device. It's not until the sole male dragon begins wreaking havoc that this adventure heats up. This creature shows its scaly face about an hour into the film, and you won't miss too much if you choose to wander in at this point.

Set designer Simon Wakefield deserves credit for his desolate landscapes, even if the bulk of them have been set on fire. The rolling green fields of Ireland stand in as the scorched earth outside London for most of the exteriors. One colleague asked why the fields were so fresh if the dragons were supposed to have scorched everything. I couldn't answer him, as I was too busy trying to noodle through why dragons hunted people at all, since we're told they feed on ash. Unanswered questions like these prevent me from quite recommending Reign of Fire. It's a lot of smoke, but too few mirrors.

Minor extras on the DVD include a couple of making-of documentaries. The one on the film's fire effects is especially interesting, if for no other reason than to reveal how environmentally catastrophic the making of the movie must have been. Forget dragons, I'm afraid of chemicals!

Nice nest egg.



Reign of Fire

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th July 2002

Box Office USA: $42.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $43.1M

Budget: $60M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Distribution Compa

Production compaines: The Zanuck Company, Spyglass Entertainment, Touchstone Pictures, Tripod Entertainment, World 2000 Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 62 Rotten: 92

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Quinn Abercromby, as Denton Van Zan, as Alex Jensen, as Creedy, as Ajay, as Jared Wilke, David Kennedy as Eddie Stax, as Ajay, Ned Dennehy as Barlow, as Devon, Terence Maynard as Gideon, as Goosh, as Burke (Tito), Chris Kelly as Mead, Ben Thornton as Young Quinn, as Karen Abercromby

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.