Movie Review – “Reign of Fire”

Reign of Fire
Rated PG-13 for intense action violence.

It was about time for another post-apocalyptic sci-fi monster movie. If that’s your cup of tea, then “Reign of Fire” lives up to the genre with gloomy settings, moody characters, plenty of end-of-the-world corniness, and some pretty cool special effects. If that’s not your teacup, well, then, you’re going to hate it.

The Story:
It’s the year 2020, and most life on earth has been wiped out by fire-breathing dragons. Yup, I said dragons. Apparently, these dragons are what killed off the dinosaurs and caused the ice age. When they run out of food (i.e., people, animals), they go into hibernation in the depths of the earth until life has a chance to repopulate the globe. The latest feeding frenzy started around 2002.

In rural England, Quinn (Christian Bale) is trying to hold together a few dozen survivors in the ruins of an old castle. But the dragons are running out of food and come around to scorch and kill more and more frequently. Then a bunch of Americans show up, led by a bald, muscular, tattoo-covered soldier named Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey). He’s a dragon hunter who has learned how to kill the creatures and he’s looking for help to tackle the baddest dragon of them all.

Afraid it will get his people killed, Quinn wants nothing to do with Van Zan’s plan. Eventually, though, the showdown between dragons and humans must happen. As Van Zan says, “Only one species is getting out of this alive.”

The Verdict:
The plot description should tell you most of what you want to know about the movie. This is the kind of film you either have to buy into and ride to the finish or stay away from completely. If you start analyzing too much, you’ll come with all kinds of plot holes and questions that will make your head hurt.

“Reign of Fire” takes itself completely seriously. There’s no tongue in cheek sense of humor here. Christian Bale delivers a pretty good performance as the protective and terrified Quinn. Matthew McConaughey plays his role of gung ho military dragon killer so far over the top that he comes down the other side. The story offers a few new twists, but by the time you reach the middle the conclusion become inevitable.

The coolest thing about the movie is the dragons. Using distance and the gloomy countryside to hide the digital edges, the dragons actually look very realistic bearing down on the fleeing humans. And like all great monsters, they’re almost scarier when you can’t see them. They manage to touch some sense of inner dread we all carry about being chased and eaten by something so big.

“Reign of Fire” contains some bad language, but there’s no sex of any kind. Almost all of the violence has to do with getting burned or getting eaten.

The Message:
Refreshingly, “Reign of Fire” is unusual for an apocalypse movie in that it doesn’t blame humans or technology for the end of life as we know it. There’s no anti-nuke or anti-capitalism message. The dragons were coming back no matter what choices humanity made.

The worldview of the movie, however, is completely godless. At one point, Quinn leads the little children under this care in their “prayers.” Bur prayer just turns out to be reciting the rules for watching out for and running away from dragons. Asking God for help isn’t an option.

One More Thing:
Well, as much as I looked forward to seeing this movie; I still walked into the theater not knowing what to expect. I didn’t do as much research before seeing this film as I normally do with other movies. One reason might be because this movie wasn’t talked about as much as others. Anyhow, I walked out of the theater after the movie feeling somewhat…unsatisfied. I’m not sure why though. The cinematography was good, there was a lot of none stop action (but hardly any blood, guts or gore), there wasn’t any obvious romance, and I guess I felt that the plot could have been developed more. “Reign of Fire” had a lot of potential, it had a brilliant plot, and a great cast with unique characters and well formulated backgrounds. The only problem was that they didn’t utilize what they had very well. The dragons themselves were awesome. The anatomy and graphics were gracefully orchestrated. (I’ve always had an unpersued fascination with dragons and mythical creatures.)
Anyhow, through a moral scope, the movie was extremely clean. Very little cursing, no sex at all (not even kissing!). As a matter of fact, there was hinting at different potential romances, but it stopped at that, nothing went further than an arm across the shoulders. The good guys won in the end and of course there were two heroes, one of which bravely sacrifices himself in pursuit of justice and saving the human race. (I’m trying not to go into too much detail, so as not to spoil the movie if you plan on seeing it.)

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2 Responses to “Movie Review – “Reign of Fire””

  1. propheceye says:

    Reel Buff
    Jeff’s review was better…

  2. sarahmadson says:

    Whatever…*sniffle*…yea, you’re right though. I’ve got to toughen up and not be so nice in my reviews. *mental note made* Don’t worry, I will try harder next time. *grumbling under breath ‘punk’*

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