As a gamer, for years I have lamented how in the videogame business there are just too many games about dungeons or space. So it sure is funny to see Hollywood, take this cue, by pairing off an odd combination of these elements. "Reign of Fire" is both a futuristic Tank movie with Dragons as well as a Dungeon movie with Tanks. What could be better?
I can just imagine the pitch meeting for this one now... Its' "Road Warrior" meets "Dragon Slayer" with "Aliens" like action. Its "Terminator 2" with beasts instead of machines. Unfortunately for us in the audience "Reign of Fire" doesn't live up to any of these comparisons. Promoted as a film from Rob Bowman, the director of the "X-Files" movie, we should've known what kind of lifeless dud to expect.
The film starts off, recounting the worldwide outbreak of fire-breathing dragons that destroys civilization. The faux Time magazine cover story paints a grim look of the future, which reminds us of the end is near mentality we saw on newsstands last September. While the dragon angle is a fresh take on why and how the modern world is destroyed, the post-apocalyptic landscape that the heroes live in, is tired and predictable.
The movie is at its best when Christian Bale as Quinn and his pal are acting out a scene from another movie. In an endearing moment, famous lines from the "Empire Strikes Back" are presented to the helpless technology starved children of a British survivalist castle as a bedtime story. Reminding us that some summer movies can touch a generation while others just makes us itchy to leave.
Somewhere in the middle, there's an engaging dragon slaying scene that has all the tension and action that the "Reign of Fire" trailer promised, however it's excitement is fleeting as the heavy handed dialog and plot around it drags on and on.
Matthew McConaughey starring as Van Zan, the American cowboy dragon slayer that arrives to save the day, seems to have signed onto "Reign of Fire" as a vehicle to show off his newly formed pecks. His hunched over posture and walk keeps him locked into a ridiculous action figure pose that suits his one-dimensional character.
So what does it mean if a movie theatre full of people rush for the exits before the credits roll? That they feel like they got their moneys worth and are ready to leave, or that they're not going to take any more of this cinematic dribble that Hollywood has spewed forth and want their ninety minutes back.? Well its hard to gauge the motivations of a mob, but for this movie-goer, by the end of "Reign of Fire" I was ready to join the stampede myself.
For Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2002 - Purple - Air Date: 7/17/02
Reign of Fire
UK - 2002