Reign of Fire Reviewby JoBlo (joblo AT joblo DOT com)
July 11th, 2002
REIGN OF FIRE
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The year is 2020 and dragons have taken over the world. They have all but conquered our major cities and continue to proliferate and barbeque humans daily. But when an American group of so-called "dragon slayers" approach another cluster of surviving English folk, it's time to get busy, draw up a plan and fight back against the fire-breathing monsters. Matthew McConaughey ensues...
Dark, smoky, lots of fire, lots of heavy breathing...and that was the scene before we even left my pad! Once at the theater, we got much of the same, as well as a whole bunch of pissed off dragons, attempting to rid the entire world of any leftover humans. Is it a good movie? It's decent. It didn't blow my ass off the seat at any point, but it certainly provided for a number of visceral action sequences with man fighting beast, and an original enough premise (dragons ruling the world?) to make up for some of its drier patches. Although I will admit that after the film's initial wake-up call, I was starting to feel a certain lull coming on, like the movie was preparing to fall into an action scene / really long sequence of surviving Brits talking it out / action scene / another really long sequence of Brits talking it out routine. But then...he arrived! That's right, the man with the plan, the man with the bulging biceps, the man who possessed more intensity in his little pinky than most action heroes do in their entire bodies, the man some of us like to call: Matthew McConaughey. The movie was all his after that. Every move that he made, every over-the-top roar that came out of his mouth, every cigar that he chomped on and spit to the floor...the man was the human beast, ready to kick ass, take names...and then kick some more ass. I freely nominate this character as one of the coolest dudes of the year so far (cheap plug: remember to vote for the Golden Schmoes at the end of the year, folks), and hope that others like me will also appreciate McConaughey's seriously disturbed but charismatic performance as well. So yes, once he pissed his way onto the scene, things got a little more interesting, but overall, the film didn't really live up to its potential.
I seemed a little too claustrophobic at times, like the entire picture took place on three sets. I also didn't understand the British accents all that well, didn't really get into any of the characters other than the two lead men and really wanted other people for whom I could give half a shit. Christian Bale also delivered a strong performance here, but was there anyone else of substance in the entire movie? 'Fraid not. And as cool and exciting as the action sequences were (the arc angels' fall from the sky was the fuckin' bomb!!), I couldn't help but feel like there was something missing. I was personally looking really forward to seeing this all-out battle in the end as well, but it never really materialized. In fact, once things got to the finale, they just seemed to speed up and finish rather abruptly. Having said that, the movie on the whole is still pretty fun to watch, the special effects are solid throughout, the scene in which McConaughey tells off the Brits is a gem (look at those eyes, baby) and the film also contains a handful of funny moments and dialogue ("We can do this the easy way or we can do this the really easy way"). As for the dragons...well, they were impressive but they never truly took over the picture. It almost seemed like a setup to a sequel or like they just ran out of money to include more monsters, so they gave McConaughey a mickey and told him to go hogwild (and he takes full advantage of his carte-blanche, let me tell you-great career move). I think this is a flick that you are either gonna love or hate. It's to note that I'm one of the assholes who thought BATTLEFIELD EARTH was "fun cheese" so watch your step after reading my words.
One thing I will definitely remember from this film is the hysterically exuberant scene featuring the bald, gruffy McConaughey jumping off the top of a huge chimney with an axe over his head and nothing but a big-ass dragon flying right towards him. That shot will forever be imbedded in my mind. Hi-la-rious. In a nutshell, the film delivers some pretty cool special effects, a couple of solid action pieces and two engaging lead actors, but doesn't give us enough dragons (this is a "dragon movie", man...show me more dragons, dammit!), doesn't really get very deep into the story and doesn't have enough interesting characters to make it all that worthwhile. A reserved recommendation, although I did think twice about giving the film an extra point for McConaughey's pecs alone.
Where's JoBlo coming from?
Armageddon (8/10) - Attack of the Clones (8/10) - Battlefield Earth (7/10) - Dungeons and Dragons (7/10) - The Fellowship of the Ring (7/10) - Godzilla (4/10) - Godzilla 2000 (7/10) - Mad Max (8/10) - Pitch Black (7/10) - X-Files (7/10)
Review Date: July 10, 2002
Director: Rob Bowman
Writers: Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka, Matt Greenberg
Producers: Richard Zanuck, Lili Zanuck, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber Actors: Christian Bale as Quinn Abercromby
Matthew McConaughey as Van Zan
Isabella Scorupco as Alex
Year of Release: 2002
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(c) 2002 Berge Garabedian
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