Reign of Fire
Dragons are cool. Fact. Fire breathing and bad tempered (apart from the dragon in Disneyís Peteís Dragon), they make an ideal hero or even better villain for films. The latest Ďdragoní offering is Reign of Fire, a modern tale of dragons taking over the world.
The film begins in current day London, where a construction crew working underground accidentally awaken a huge fire-breathing dragon, which had been dormant for centuries. A young boy, who witnessed the creature awaken and is the only survivor after it attacks, is Quinn. He watched as his mother was killed and as the dragon escaped to the surface.
Fast forward to the year 2020; the world has changed. Dragons now rule the skies and people are on the verge of extinction. Small groups of survivor hide during the night and hesitantly venture out during the day to forage for food. The world is covered in ash and burning destruction, thousands of dragons roam around looking for food.
Quinn (Christian Bale) is now a grown man and a leader of a small colony of survivors, cutting out an existence in an old castle. They believe that if they can out live the dragons that are now turning against each other due to the lack of food, they might have a chance to survive as a species. So life for them involves hiding and growing crops of tomatoes whilst keeping an eye on the skies, waiting for the day when dragons will become extinct through lack of food.
This siege-like lifestyle is shattered one day with the arrival of Denton Van Zan and his rough and ready army. Van Zan (played with growling gusto by Matthew McConaughey) is a dragon slayer and is armed with tanks, high tech weapons and a helicopter. The pilot of the helicopter is Alex (Izabella Scorupco) who takes more than a shine to Quinn, despite her undying loyalty to Van Zan and his quest.
Van Zan has brought his army from the USA to England for the sole purpose of killing the one male dragon and therefore with no means of fertilisation the dragons will be dead within one generation. The male dragon has a lair in London and is the one that Quinn witnessed as a boy, the one that began it all.
Van Zan is on his way to London and is also after recruits to join his quest, much to Quinnís opposition. Quinn believes that itís a foolís quest and that no one will survive. In previous years, a similar attempt was made which resulted in the dragon killing everyone who went to London and then it tracked back the would-be slayers path back to their homelands and killed everyone there too. Quinn is concerned that if Van Zan fails, then the dragon will find its way back to his castle and his people.
With both men at loggerheads with each other, the skies are no longer the most dangerous place to be.
Thereís no hidden agenda with a Reign of Fire, itís a pure monster movie Ė no hidden explanations into the existence of man or God, just movie monster mayhem. Granted the ending is weak and bit of an anti-climax, but for the whole the film does deliver. The CGI dragons are done well, and by using shadows or suggestions of the beast (till the end at least) it helps to bring the tension up.
A bad point for the Reign of Fire is the poster! It shows dragons spewing flames and many Apache Helicopters flying around attacking them (see below), all set against a burning London backdrop. Itís a great image, but the film doesnít show anything like it Ė wonder if its falls under false advertising! Some might be mislead by the promise of grand scale helicopter vs. dragon battles.
Performance wise, Christian Bale is good as Quinn and does get to kick some arse, but Matthew McConaughey has gone ĎSection Aí. Completely beefed up, shaved head, covered in tattoos and growls everything heís gone from genteel fellow in ED:TV to psychopathic nut case very well. Heís completely believable as a madman whoís willing to go head to head with a dragon. Both leading men have gone a long way to lose their pretty boy images and show that they can transcend into the action film genre. Izabella Scorupco is easy on the eye and itís nice to see her again after Goldeneye (Bond films normally being the kiss of death to female careers Ė unless they are the villain!).
Overall, Reign of Fire is an entertaining enough film with some very cool bits (i.e. Dragons!) and plenty of action. Itís not going to win any Oscars (knowing my luck it will probably win some obscure category!) but for escapism it will do for a couple of hours. The ending as mentioned before is bit of an anticlimax and very sudden, but overall itís a fun film. Letís hope the next one will live up to the poster though!
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