Reign of Fire

Reign of Fire is an impressive example of a B-movie hiding within a big fat budget. Never has such terror been funnier, and there is no way to tell if the movie was meant to be such a rollicking piece of camp. The entire movie feels like a convoluted mess but what is clear is that twenty years from now, dragons rule the earth. Most of the human race is in hiding. In the present, a young boy witnessed the unearthing of the ancient beast that lives on ash. In the next two decades, dragons multiplied like rabbits and burned everything in sight. In this post-apocalyptic future, shotguns fire next to axes, and tanks roll while men on horseback ride by. Quinn (Christian Bale, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Shaft), the young boy that witnessed the birth of the dragon and the death of his mother, is now in charge of a group of humans hiding in an English castle. Quinn's main concern is the long-term survival of all in his care.

This all changes with the arrival of Van Zan (Matthew McCounaghey, 13 Conversations About One Thing, Frailty). Van Zan is from America. His group slays dragons, and even managed to fly across the Atlantic. He is searching for the one male dragon, and believes that by killing him, the other dragons will die out. He brings with him helicopters, tanks, men, and a hot helicopter pilot (Izabella Scorupco, Vertical Limit, The Diver), who immediately catches the eye of Quinn. Quinn and Van Zan fall on opposing sides when it comes to dealing with dragons. Quinn wants to protect the humans and hide, whereas Van Zan wants to kick dragon butt. There is really nothing else to the story, yet there are three people with screenplay and story credits, Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka, and Matt Greenberg (Allied Forces, Halloween: H20). The rest of the movie follows the general path of this type of thing - lots of internal fighting, massive death and carnage, and one last attack where the odds look hopeless.

The big lure of Reign of Fire is the CGI dragons. They look impressive, but director Rob Bowman (The X-Files, Airborne) never takes the time to focus on them closely. Most of the time, they fly by quickly or are far off in the distance. There is never enough time to examine them up close, so there is no real reason to be afraid of them. Overall, the special effects are decent, especially given the nature of the script, and the dragons have about as much personality as the human characters. And how exactly is anybody supposed to refrain from laughing when every word of out Van Zan's cigar-chomping mouth is a loud order? He is a post-apocalyptic Patton out for dragon blood. Bale is the more pragmatic one, and Scorupco is just eye-candy. When Reign of Fire ends, all sense of logic disappears. Bowman and his screenwriters failed to thoroughly think out what exactly is going on in the movie, leaving gaping plot holes all over the place. It seems they spent their time filling the screenplay with yucks instead of focusing on more substantial issues.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 48 minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense action violence.

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