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Reign of Fire

Fire-breathing dragons make for a hot summer

Amidst the array of fantasy / sci-fi / futuristic action flicks in theaters this year comes Reign of Fire, which combines both the future and the past, and, you guessed it, action. Director Rob Bowman, one the masterminds behinds the X-Files (when in it was good) brings you a future in which evil, fire-breathing dragons are trying to take over the earth.

It sounds like a mix between a Japanese-inspired Godzilla movie and a campy Attack of the Killer Tomatoes matinee. It's the year 2020 and the vast majority of the world are either dead or hiding in little post-apocalyptic communities, trying to eek out an existence while hiding from vicious dragons who were mysteriously awoken by some kid twenty years earlier. One of these communities lives in a medieval castle in England and is being led by a guy named Quinn (Christian Bale looking eerily like McConaughey's long lost brother). They have it bad and look like they probably stink to high heaven.

One day something terrible happens - Americans show up. Their leader is a freak named Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey), who turns out to be a dragon slayer who hatches a plan to kill the main dragon. He looks like a mental patient wigging out on speed. Granted, his character is supposed to be kinda off the sanity scale, but he's a bit too much of a wacko. Of course, his antics make for one of the funniest scenes [note - it wasn't meant to be funny] in the whole movie, landing a coveted place in the Top Ten Most Outrageous Scenes in an Action Movie list.

The special effects are pretty darned good. When the acting falters, you wish you could see more of the beasts. For a totally unbelievable storyline - the dragons seem very real. Although the idea of a future structured like the past is interesting, there are a few gaping holes in the plot that you just can't get around. For example, the main dragon was supposedly sleeping in some crevice under London for thousands of years, yet a kid happens upon it and then it suddenly wakes up? Why didn't it wake up before? Why wasn't it dead from starvation?

Furthermore, the awkward love story slapped on the end between Quinn and Van Zan's sidekick Alex (Izabella Scorupco) smacks of Speed's Sandra Bullock / Keanu Reeves schtick. I don't know about you, but if I was being run down by fire breathing dragons, living in some shithole and stinking like a refugee - the last thing on my mind would be getting it on. It should also be noted that the movie only really mentions Europe and America and you get the sneaking suspicion that - like the Dark Ages - Asia and the Middle East are actually living it up - eating delicious food, inventing things and looking good.

All in all, Reign of Fire is entertaining in a brain-dead kind of way. Hell, it's summer. You shouldn't have to think during summer.


Reign of Fire
1 hour 45 minutes

Matthew McConnaughy
Christian Bale
Isabella Scorupo