Reign of Fire

Category: Reign of Fire Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: July 10, 2002 | Publication: Comingsoon.Net | Author: Scott Chitwood
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Rating: 8 of 10

Summary:

"Reign of Fire" is a fun action flick, but it could have used more dragons and fewer slow moments.


What's It About:

In present day London, young Quinn visits his mother at a subway tunnel construction site. While he's there, workers tunnel into a void in the rock. There, they inadvertently awaken dragons who have slept for hundreds of years. Quinn is witness as the dragons emerge and begin to destroy the earth.

Flash forward to 2020 and we see that mankind has been brought to the brink of extinction. Millions of dragons now rule the world. Quinn, now a battle hardened young man, leads a group of survivors hiding in an old castle in the country. Their goal is to simply dig in and survive.

One day a lone military convoy rolls into their little complex. A group of American mercenaries led by Denton Van Zan, they have come to England to slay dragons. They have a theory about how to defeat the dragons once and for all. They quickly get their chance to show their dragon slaying capabilities. Despite an impressive show of technology, strategy, and force, Quinn doesn't buy into their mission. He believes in simple survival, not an impossible suicide mission. The two leaders butt heads, but their resolution is the only hope for mankind on the planet.

"Reign of Fire" is rated PG-13 for intense action violence.


What Worked:

I'm a big fan of dragons and have been waiting for a cool movie about them for years. "Dragonslayer," so far, is the 'high bar' in dragon films. I thought "Dragonheart" would end up topping it, but that film ended up being a disappointment. "Reign of Fire" ends up not being as impressive as 'Dragonslayer," but it is a decent second.

I really dig this whole concept. The idea of dragons battling humans with modern technology is pretty cool. This film is what I was looking for in terms of tone and action. Some of the scenes in this film are just absolutely stunning. There's an incredible action sequence where skydivers battle a dragon in the air. I don't want to spoil it for you, but you'll find yourself holding your breath as it happens. It's one of the coolest action scenes this summer.

The effects in the film are really impressive. The dragons are traditional, yet unique at the same time. They looked like the "Dragonslayer" dragon with tweaked wings and different coloration. They spit fire by igniting chemicals spewed from glands in their mouths. It's an amazing sight. Some cool visuals occur as a large dragon crawls over a castle. Another memorable one occurs when we see dozens of dragons roosting in the ruins of London.

While most of the cast is unimpressive, both Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale handle the material well. McConaughey is great as the ultra-tough dragon slayer. He plays the typical cocky American well and handles the action as good as anyone. Bale is believable as the kind hearted leader and the tough warrior. Towards the end, he looks as terrified as you would expect him to be facing off with a fire-breathing flying beast with a 300-foot wingspan.

Finally, there's a fun tip 'o the hat to Star Wars which I thought was really cute. I won't spoil it here, but it reminded me of my childhood when I saw The Empire Strikes Back for the first time.


What Didn't Work:

Simply put, there are not enough dragons in this film. Practically all of the dragon scenes in the movie are shown in the trailers and commercials. The movie sets up the premise that the world has been devastated by these creatures and that they are swarming all over the planet by the millions killing humans. Yet there are really only 3 dragons that we see battles with in the film. You never get a sense of the epic scale of the situation. The part where they take over the world is glossed over in a 2 minute synopsis though it is probably one of the most exciting aspects of this story. It probably would have cost millions more to feature extra dragons, but it's what this film really needed.

There are also only 3 or 4 action sequences in the movie. The rest of the time is filled with rather slow character exposition. It ends up dragging the movie down and making audiences check their watches. I'm all for developing characters in action movies, but don't let it overpower the action.

I had some other minor gripes about details in the movie, but they aren't important. I don't think this film is going to be widely popular though I enjoyed it for the most part. You can probably expect it to settle in with a nice cult following after a short run in theaters. That's sad, too, because it means we probably won't see more dragons any time soon. Part of the blame can be directed towards Touchstone for their poor marketing of this film.