Reign of Fire Review

by Karina Montgomery (karina AT cinerina DOT com)
September 16th, 2002

Reign of Fire

Rental and snacks

Who actually thought they would see this movie? If you're totally into dragons, you probably have no patience for Matthew McConaughey. If you have a big crush on Matthew, you probably think dragons are for kids. Yet, there I was, fully geeked out in the theatre - and I even recognized Alice Krige (Borg queen) as Quinn's mom. Oh my word. I mean nerd.

In short, if you mean to see this film, you probably already have, so I will risk a few semi-spoilers in order to discuss it. It's against my general policy, so please forgive me. I'll warn you. The short version is that dragons of mythology were real, they just are dormant. Obviously they wake up (naturally due to Progress and Technology) and go forth and kick ass, killing everything. What has been left in the bulk of the film are some humans struggling to survive on a charred planet. It's not the worst idea, really. Basically Quinn (Christian Bale) leads a conclave of people trying to hide from the dragons (who eat and burn whatever they see - apparently they live on the ashes, not on the food, but they eat the food too) and maybe even farm a little. Enter Matthew McConaughey as a "take me seriously" brigand-type whose band hunts dragons. Sure, why not?

Despite some plot holes (why would a species destroy its only food source?) they answer some amusing questions left over from mythology, explain the dragons' physiology, and convey an important message: blind rushing into progress is bad for the world (releases the dragons) and also destroying the world just because you can (like we are doing now) is also pretty bad. An unintended message conveyed by the film is the reiteration of what a terrible actor McConaughey is, and how good Bale is. Spoiler in next paragraph.

Austin bongo nudist Matthew is buff, he's crazy looking, and he's really good at being annoying, which works for this film. It's like casting Keanu Reeves as a likeable, slightly dense puppy dog - that will always be a good part for him to play. Bale, equally buff, dares Matthew to make fun of him for Newsies while he acts himself out of the story all together. See, it was Quinn's Borg mother who inadvertently started up the whole shebang, he's got some survivor guilt, blah blah blah. Matt hunts dragons to try and kill the male and stop them from propagating. Bale uses his intelligence to keep them from killing themselves doing it. Co-op-er-a-tion!

What I liked best (ok, what I liked) was the production design work. Bale's tribe is holed up in an abbey, and just that set alone is cool enough to justify a couple dollars of admission. The dragons in flight are pretty standard, just as cool as that Sean Connery dragon in motion and detail - but the fallen, up close and personal dragons, THOSE are kick ass. Also it's hard to make the world look totally empty of life, and they did a nice job there as well. McConaughey has some pretty spiffy Eddie Bauer Dragongear, but besides that, the art department rules this movie. The dragons drool liquid fire, very neat.

Anyway it's a rainy Saturday afternoon rental, with a pizza and some beer and sense of humor, and that's OK.

These reviews (c) 2002 Karina Montgomery. Please feel free to forward but just credit the reviewer in the text. Thanks.
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