Reign of Fire
Dir: Rob Bowman
Star: Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 2002
Format: DVD R1

Tunnelling for an extension to the London underground uncovers a large cavern, which had been sealed for centuries. Unfortunately the cavern is also the hibernating place for dragons. Skip forwards twenty years and civilisation has been all but destroyed by the dragons. The Earth is burnt and barren and they are still hungry. Quinn ( Christian Bale), who as a young boy witnessed the emergence of the first dragon, now leads a rag tag bunch of survivors who are trying to eke out an existence in their castle. Enter Van Zan ( Matthew McConaughey) a loudmouth American who claims that not only is he a dragon slayer but he has a plan that may defeat the dragons for good.

What a great idea for a film, dragons, castles, tanks, helicopters and soldiers. A heady mix of technology and myth. What a great idea, and what a great film. There is no doubt that dragons are cool. They have the size and power of dinosaurs, they fly and best of all they breathe fire. So just how would we cope with a plague of thousands of them even with all of our weapons and technology? Would we have to revert to the old ways of castle building? Great questions all looked at sensibly in an original and fascinating script that stays true to dragon folklore, and mixes old and new methods for fighting them in a post apocalyptic setting.

For this sort of film to work the dragons were going to have to be pretty good, and lets be fair up until now this hasn't always been the case. So far we have had the family friendly Sean Connery dragon in Dragonheart, and the dodgy CGI dragons in Dungeons and Dragons, neither of which were totally successful. As time moves on so does CGI techniques and this has resulted here with some of the best dragons every seen. These dragons are fierce deadly and totally convincing. They move well, look good, and interact with the backgrounds in a believable way (checkout the embers being blown about when the dragon over flies). Full credit goes to TSL who have produced some stunning results.

Rob Bowman helms the film. He is a name instantly recognisable to X-files fans as he directed many of the episodes and the movie. Here he does a fine job nicely mixing fantastic locations, huge pyrotechnic effects, and good character drama. Obviously at home with special effects he uses them to spectacular effect, a nice contrast to the gritty human element. Also impressive is the choice of a dark ash coloured palette that really makes the bright flames even more vivid. The end result is awesome.

In the film where the dragons provide bricks the humans provide the mortar holding the film together. Their plight is real, and it is this genuine battle for survival is really hammered home. It is good to see people acting in a realistic manner in this sort of film. Leading the cast we have Christian Bale (American Psycho) and an almost unrecognisable Matthew McConaughey (U571) both prove to be very good. The rest of the cast is a mixed bag. Izabella Scorupco is a little bland, but Gerard Butler is extremely entertaining. The only real let down are the child actors who are universally awful (especially Ben Thornton who plays young Quinn), thankfully their screen time is strictly limited.

I like this film. It is original, well shot, the dragons are brilliant, and the story \ script is great. It is interesting and unusual to have a film based in the UK and this film has a very British feel about it. The battles for survival elements remind me of the sort of hard core sci-fi we in the UK used to produce, in all a refreshing change. This realism may not sit well with some but it does give the film a more human edge. My only other concern is that occasionally you get the impression that an even bigger budget would have made a much better film. But putting this aside Reign of Fire is an excellent film. The dragons are amazing and the concept of them vs the soldiers is just cool. Let the burning begin.


"Fight fire with fire."


Creedy: "There is only one thing worse than dragons. Americans!"

Quinn: "They want whoever is in charge."
Creedy: "That will be you then."
Quinn: "Ok, you know what to do."
Creedy: "Actauly I haven't got a clue."
Quinn: "Neither have I."

Rating: 4 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic The picture handles the dark pallette beautifully.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS The DTS soundtrack is awesome check out the night attack on Penbury.
Features Short making of puff piece (12 mins)
Interesting fire effects featurrette (15 mins)
Very good interview with the director (15 mins)
Verdict Great picture and fantastic DTS sound. Where are the extras? Deleted scenes must exists (see the trailer) where are they? Not good enough.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home