Reign of Fire (2002)

Matthew McConaughey as Denton Van Zan in Reign of Fire (2002)

Rise of the Dragons

Here's a word of advice for you, if you are about to watch "Reign of Fire" for the first time do so with no expectations. I say that because "Reign of Fire" looks like an adult fantasy movie which should have some depth to it as we have an element of American and British survivors having to learn to work together in the future where dragons have taken the world. But in truth it has no depth, it is just CGI and action with a few recognizable stars that is it, a visual movie on every level with no hidden message what so ever and so if you watch expecting something more you will be disappointed.

In the year 2020, 20 years after dragons rose from the bowels of the planet, there are few humans left, living in small groups and trying to survive. One such group is lead by Quinn Abercromby (Christian Bale - Captain Corelli's Mandolin) who as a child watched his mum die saving his life, a memory which keeps him going as he along with best friend Creedy (Gerard Butler - One More Kiss) do what ever they can to keep going. But when a group of American's lead by the arrogant Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey - The Wedding Planner) arrive the fragile harmony is shattered as Denton is a dragon slayer, an alpha male who wants Quinn and his survivors to help destroy the dragons, putting him and Quinn at loggerheads.

Christian Bale and Gerard Butler in Reign of Fire (2002)

It is really daft but because "Reign of Fire" takes us 20 years into the future where much of the population has been wiped out it feels like there should be something of depth going on, some subtext about why the dragons have suddenly risen up to take over but there is none. In many ways it almost now makes "Reign of Fire" feel a bit "Terminator Salvation" like as Christian Bale stars as the leader of a small resistance of people. So basically what that means is we have men fighting dragons in various ways and doing battle with the big dragon to try and bring an end to it all. Oh and we have a bit of an alpha male skirmish between Quinn and Denton but in truth that is it.

What that really means is that "Reign of Fire" is all about the action and the special effects, the stunning sight of Denton and his tanks rolling up to Quinn's castle to close encounters with the fire breathing kind. It is exciting, it is adventurous and the action is big, basically it is everything it is trying to be and whilst seriously over the top it strangely works. And by strangely over the top I am on about Matthew McConaughey's cigar chomping caricature of an arrogant military man, who is visually eye catching but is seriously extreme.

That sort of brings me to what the problem is with "Reign of Fire" and that is the audience it is made for because whilst it is certificate 12 I would say older teens to young adults would enjoy it more. The trouble comes from the audience having a grown up mind where you question and pull apart everything and in doing so finding plot holes everywhere most notably how comes Denton and his American troops have so much fuel which we never see. It is hard to fully embrace the fact it is fantasy and disengage that need to make sense of everything and unless you let go you won't be able to enjoy "Reign of Fire" for what it is.

What this all boils down to is that "Reign of Fire" is a movie which is all about the action and special effects, it is about the CGI dragons and flames and the over the top characters. And basically unless you disengage your brain and just sit back and enjoy the action it will be disappointing.