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Overall Rating
3.18

Awesome: 12.39%
Worth A Look31.86%
Average: 27.43%
Pretty Bad: 17.7%
Total Crap: 10.62%

7 reviews, 71 user ratings



Reign of Fire
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by MP Bartley

"Here Be Dragons.Sort of."
2 stars

A lot of things get me excited about forthcoming movies. A great trailer, internet buzz or the talent attatched to it. But very rarely a poster. Until I saw the poster for 'Reign Of Fire'. Oh boy this was going to be good! London was up in flames while a horde of dragons battled in the sky against a fleet of machine gun spewing helicopters. Well get me a bucket of popcorn, a large coke and sit me down in the frontrow, because this was going to be awesome. I stress 'going' to be...

...because the reality of the event is a lot less than the poster promised. Imagine if 'Independence Day' had been cut by an hour and started with Will Smith, Pullman and Goldblum in the desert after the White House had been blown up. Hell, even the Gene Barry version of 'War Of The Worlds' managed to convincingly show us cities that had been razed to the ground.

Now I'm not arguing that special effects make or break the movies. Of course they don't. 'Mars Attacks!' had London, Paris and Vegas all reduced to rubble by Martians but still remained uninvolving eye candy. But for a poster to promise so much and deliver so little constitutes false advertising frankly.

Instead 'Reign Of Fire' kicks off in England 2020. The dragons, awoken 20 years, have pretty much decimated the world, leaving it bleak and covered in ash which they feed upon. The few remaining humans skulk in the shadows under constant fear of fresh attack. One such refuge is in Northumberland led by the gruff Quinn (Christian Bale) whose mother died in the first dragon attack. Together with best friend Creedy (Gerard Butler) he's trying to protect the meagre colony he's set up and offer hope when there seems to be none. Things get complicated however when American commandos arrive led by Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) and 'copter pilot Alex (Izabella Scorupco). (Yes it's that old chestnut, the British are just too damn scared and gutless to do anything and so need a crazy American to come along, insult them and then gear them up for action. Hey maybe it's a satire on Bush and Blair).

Anyway Van Zan has a plan that will hopefully see the end of the dragons but he needs help from the unwilling Quinn.

So it's set in the aftermath which gives director Rob Bowman plenty of scope to create one of those post-apocalyptic landscapes that disaster/invasion movies love so much. But for all it's unsettling bleakness it quickly becomes familiar and dull. Set in the wilds of Northumberland we're even spared the sights of the decimated cities. Instead we're treated to barren hills, gravel pits, gravel pits...and more gravel pits. C'mon 'Doctor Who' made a series out of these settings for thirty years and that didn't have a budget approaching anything near a million. Something tells me that perhaps more money went on marketing than on the story.

It's therefore left to the cast to try and get over the gravitas of the situation. Bale and McConaughey both vent snarling machismo in spades, arguing over everything including the fate of a young teenage boy which results in a bare chested fight between them. What subtext Bowman was quite trying to suggest here I don't really want to think about...

But ultimately a film about dragons is going to stand or fall on the creatures themselves and they're fantastically done. Not since 'Jurassic Park' have creatures been so convincingly rendered through CGI. It's a shame therefore that we never see more than one at a time. Instead we have singular attacks. And yes, the first dragon v humans battle that requires the use of skydivers and nets is thrilling in a thrilling-because-all-the-next-battles-are-going-to-be-better kind of way. But that never happens. We never see the dragons attack en masse, even down to the climax. The most we see or hear is Quinn's mournful voiceover over a montage of newspaper clippings and nuclear test footage all detailing the end of the world. The last glimpse we see is that of Time Magazine asking 'The End?' over a picture of cities in flames. It's a haunting moment but sadly the feeling never lasts as we skimp on the action.

Yes, there's some nice character moments and shocks but when you've got a terribly illogical climax you know you're in trouble.

<<<Minor Spoiler>>>

Right, so Van Zan's plan is to kill the one male dragon so it can't fertilize the eggs? Presumably we don't have to worry about the hundreds of dragons already flying around the Earth.

<<<Spoiler End>>>

'Reign of Fire' is so crushingly dissapointing for the majority of it's running time because it tantalisingly hints at what could have been a marvellous backstory. Instead all you're left with is characters scrabbling around in the dirt while you wish that more money had been spent on the story and less on the poster.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5985&reviewer=293
originally posted: 09/02/02 23:33:42
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User Comments

8/24/09 zenny suprisingly entertaining flick 4 stars
11/02/08 Samantha Pruitt great effects and great visuals, lots of fun action and cool dragons! 4 stars
10/22/08 dina This movie kicks major butt and bonus! Matthew Mcconaughey & Christian Bale are smokin'hot! 5 stars
8/13/08 Shaun Wallner I love Dragon movies!! 5 stars
10/09/07 emma the movies the best shows good acting and the prayer gets stuck in my head its easily 5 stars
5/08/07 Tracey Chambers christian bale, and matthew mcconaughey what more could you want 4 stars
1/11/07 Jake Dragons are really the only cool thing about it 3 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini great fx 3 stars
11/06/06 Bitchflaps The definition of a steaming pile.That is a pile that gets so septic, it begins to steam. 1 stars
8/05/06 David Cohen It's good as long as you don't think about it (Dragons eat ash? Sure, why not) 3 stars
3/10/06 Dk Underated, this is the best monster movie since Jurassic park and its sequel 5 stars
7/12/05 Mark Radburn This movie is totally awesome, stop slamming it you idiots 5 stars
4/25/05 Quigley Matthew McConaughey, please no! if this movie was a thermometer, it is below freezing. 1 stars
3/29/05 Tyrantis It sounded like Indepeddence Day with dragons. I was disappointed. 1 stars
3/24/05 Alice Colwell boring 2 stars
10/22/04 Matt Thiel Good opening, but the rest is a mess 2 stars
8/27/04 brendan glad i didnt pay to see it at a cinema. check your brain in at the door. 2 stars
7/09/04 Daveman One dreary cliche after another and not a shred of real fun. 1 stars
6/09/04 Nobody completely implausible and unconvincing, with occasional ok acting 2 stars
6/01/04 jack bell love the way they dargons look, but the plot could have been better. 5 stars
4/23/04 HorrorScribbler Nonsense, but it does have a lot of dragons. 2 stars
1/21/04 will the actors were so into it, it just made the movie 4 stars
1/16/04 Dean Um, I still dont get the dragon bit 4 stars
12/17/03 tatum Just plain cool 5 stars
10/02/03 y2mckay Cheap, sometimes plodding, and full of plot holes - but vaguely entertaining 3 stars
8/31/03 john radice What about a prequel about the dragons destruction of the world? 3 stars
8/28/03 baldor this movie has changed my life bought new tv to watch it 5 stars
7/25/03 john radice PLANET OF THE DRAGONS WITHOUT THE DRAGONS 2 stars
7/18/03 I Would Neither film fans nor macho boneheads will like this, so what's the point of this movie? 1 stars
6/27/03 imbrium monster movie! 5 stars
6/13/03 Jerry Cool action. Better than dungeons and dragons!! 5 stars
5/06/03 Jareth Boring, braindead and offensive. I'd rather get vaporised by a fire breathing dragon. 1 stars
4/09/03 JL Movie was alright, but Christian Bale is delicious! 4 stars
4/06/03 Jason Banta Visual effects were very nice, the storyline needs work. 3 stars
2/22/03 DAN MCORBICK IF ONLY IT HAD STAYED WITH IT'S MAIN EXCITING PREMISE OF DRAGONS DESTROYING THE WORLD 2 stars
2/01/03 Goofy Maxwell Dragon made a last stand 4 chivalry? *hee hee* So there WAS a method to this madness! 3 stars
1/31/03 Donn Kixote The Best Symbolistic, Metaphorycal, Intricated, PosModern, PreIIIWW XFCrap Ive Never Seen! 5 stars
1/02/03 Vince Reed SUCKS THE TURD'S OUT OF A DEAD MAN'S ASS! 1 stars
12/15/02 Laurian Diaconescu Pretty cool,I enjpyed it.Could have been a bit more spectacular though. 3 stars
12/08/02 Monster W. Kung Really dull. 2 stars
12/06/02 Brandon Little The previews showed something exciting but mindless...OK. Instead, it was just dull. 2 stars
10/19/02 Darren Kennedy Where were the attack choppers? 2 stars
10/14/02 Jake lee crap movie, it ended b4 it even got started, lets bring and axe to kill a dragon..dumb ass 1 stars
9/27/02 John McNew Visually stirring, but awfully unintelligent. Dumb entertainment that just isn't fun. 2 stars
9/08/02 Roy Smith Their big solution makes no sense at all. Only one? Cheap. 4 stars
9/08/02 Valerie Jones (in 15 days I'll be 13 & can post in my name on amazon!) Fairly dumb and boring - could've skipped all but last 20 minutes. 2 stars
9/06/02 Priscilla Postlethwaite Fighting dragons in London in 2020? WHY?? 1 stars
8/30/02 Matt Stone OK 4 stars
8/18/02 Craig The dragons didn't kill McConaughey soon enough. 1 stars
8/18/02 Cibeus Matthew McConaughey as a tough? I didn't buy it going in, but was pleasantly surprised. 4 stars
8/03/02 Akira_773 Finally, post-apocalyptic women sans makeup! 4 stars
7/30/02 John P. May This may be good stuff for an action TV series. 4 stars
7/26/02 titaliwink Pretty fucking boring. But good acting and a hell of a concept. 3 stars
7/20/02 Peter Marshall 4 stars
7/19/02 Bleah Where did they get all chopper fuel from? 1 stars
7/19/02 KMG ONCE AGAIN AMERICANS KICK FUCKING ASS!!!!! WOO BIATCH!!!!! 5 stars
7/19/02 Jeff I want to have sex with Mr. Bale - woof! 5 stars
7/18/02 ian great "promise" really flopped on the delivery. 3 stars
7/18/02 strider3700 not oscar worthy but a damn fine summer action movie 4 stars
7/17/02 John It had a number of action sequences, but was sort of short, and boring at times 3 stars
7/17/02 STEVE this movie rocks!!!!! 5 stars
7/16/02 Vera Sparks McConaughey is a radical mofo, and the death toll is surprisingly high. Coulda been better 4 stars
7/16/02 rgtp Pretty Crappy 2 stars
7/16/02 n6ko long, boring, and dumb. too much crap for me to enjoy myself 1 stars
7/15/02 Caiphn Slow at parts, evil dragons! 3 stars
7/15/02 ajay I liked it, but I wish they would've made up more technical junk about the dragons 4 stars
7/15/02 Obi Wan I wanted to love it, but I left with nothing . . .no wow, no aww, just nothing. 3 stars
7/15/02 Law better than half the other crap out there 4 stars
7/14/02 Danielle Ophelia Bleak...you almost wonder what they're trying to save. But not bad...not at all. 4 stars
7/13/02 David Its a dragon movie, keep that in mind when you buy your ticket and have some fun.... 4 stars
7/12/02 Nick2k my original post was 'deleted', so...this movie was hiding behind false advertising. eh! 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Jul-2002 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Oct-2002




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