Retro Review: Reign of Fire

Written: July 16, 2002

Winged furies that bring forth-fiery death from above are the main focus and threat for the new science fiction film, “Reign of Fire”.

Matthew McConaughey, last seen in 2001’s “Frailty”, stars as Denton Van Zan, a leader of a ragtag group of marines who have come to England to stop man’s greatest enemy, the dragon. Twenty years previous, a tunnel construction crew awakens a dormant dragon, which spawns a new apocalypse as the fiery beasts emerge as the dominant threat on the planet.

When Van Zan arrives in England he loses most of his operation and has to team-up with a reclusive leader named Quinn (Christian Bale) and other “draco-holocaust” survivors.

Together can they stop the dragons and bring forth a new age of man? Only time and patience will tell.

“Reign of Fire” for me was a mutated hybrid between “Mad Max”, “Waterworld” and “Godzilla”. The film’s production design, locales and costumes were right out of “Mad Max” or “Waterworld”. The concept of a group of marines taking on dragons was reminiscent of the plot of “Godzilla”.

There are some thrills, spills and breath-taking dragons in “Reign” that are worthy of witnessing but I found myself bogged down by how the story skips key plot elements to get to the action. I hated the montages of flashing history, which is supposed to make us see that time (encased in hell-fire) has gone by. Also the whole idea of unearthing a dragon is so ridiculous. There has to have been a better and more believable way.

I was also extremely disappointed to how Van Zan was plopped into the film without us really caring about this sort of buffed-version of Captain Ahab or Captain Nemo.

McConaughey relishes in his portrayal of the mad “dragonslayer” but the plot doesn’t support his outlandish performance. What exactly is his full story and there must be something more to why he came the England. He is an interesting force on film but we know hardly anything about him except from what he says. I wanted to know more.

I liked Christian Bale except that he seemed a little out of place. Bale is a fine actor when given a project he can excel in. Take his performances in “Shaft” and especially “American Psycho”. He just needs to keep hunting for those envelope-pushing projects.

I think “Reign of Fire” would have made a better videogame. Given the scope of what the film was trying to jam into 100 minutes it could have used the longer and more interactive format to bring more insight to the men fighting the dragons.

I loved the computer-generated dragons and the thrilling skydiving sequence but for the most part “Reign of Fire” left a dry charcoal taste in my mouth.

(1.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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