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Reign Of Fire (2002)
Director: Rob Bowman
review by Michael Lohr
In present-day London, 12-year-old Quinn Abercromby watches as his mother - a construction engineer, inadvertently wakes an enormous fire-breathing beast from its millennia-long slumber. Twenty years later, much of the world is in ruins, scorched by the beast and its scaly offspring. As an adult, Quinn (played by Christian Bale) is responsible for warding off the beasts and keeping a small community alive as they hold dearly to what meagre existence they can forage from the ashes (it seems that tomatoes grow well in burnt ash). Into their midst arrive the battle-harden American, Denton Van Zan (played by Matthew McConaughey), hotshot helicopter pilot Alex (played by Izabella Scorupco) and their military convoy, fresh off the dragon wars in North America (seems they ploughed their way through dragon-infested skies from Kansas to Manchester, England). The objective: go to the ruins of London (now the central domain of the dragon horde) and kill the breeding bull dragon thus effectively ending the species and saving the remnant of humanity.
I wanted to give this movie a four star rating so bad, I came within a witch's tit of doing so. But alas, I had to hold back. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed this movie very much. It was very well done and I highly recommend it. The visual effects are impressive without bogging down the movie in a quagmire of nonsense. The movie did an admirable job of setting forth the cinematic ambiance of a new dark age, you kind of get the feeling you are watching a historical movie, like the classic Braveheart or The 13th Warrior; dark, brooding and sparse. You get this sense of a 'medieval' setting, even though the setting is actually 2020. Yet at the same time the feeling of Mad Max (aka: Road Warrior) and its post-apocalyptic world comes quickly to mind. It has that sense of duality to it, with a helicopter and machine-guns on the one hand, dragon and rider on horseback on the other.
My biggest problem with the movie was that it needed more dragon scenes. There were many quick flashes here and there and the action sequences seemed to be edited at a faster rate than necessary. However, the scenes of the dragon horde roosting in the ruins of London as well as the opening and final fight scenes are all very well done sequences. An additional problem was Christian Bale's character, from a screenwriting perspective. Christian did a wonderful acting job in the movie, but at times his character was too pensive, whined and simpered like a whipped pup and at other times he came off like a pacifist monk. There was not enough character development written in for Quinn.
Not quite up to the calibre of Dragonslayer, but lightyears ahead of Dragonheart and the abysmal Dungeons & Dragons. This movie will provide all you dragon/fantasy enthusiasts out there a solid fix for the season.
My favourite line from the movie: "If there is one thing that's worse than dragons, it's Americans." We aren't that terrible now, are we? Don't answer that.
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