Directed By: Rob Bowman
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupco
Tag line: "Fight Fire With Fire"
Trivia: This film was shot in Ireland, in the Wicklow Mountains
In later years, both Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey would win Academy Awards (Bale in 2010 for his role in David O. Russell’s The Fighter, and McConaughey for 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club), but in Reign of Fire, these two fine actors are upstaged on a regular basis by their CGI co-stars. Forget performance and story; it’s the dragons that make this movie worthwhile.
It was 20 years ago when the first dragon was discovered in an underground cavern, and since that time, the winged creatures have become the dominant species on earth. With every major city in the world laid to waste, humans have been forced to seek shelter in out-of-the-way places. One such band of survivors, led by a man named Quinn (Bale), has set up a small community in an abandoned castle in Northumberland, England. With the help of his good friend Creedy (Gerard Butler), Quinn teaches everyone how best to avoid the dragons. His belief that they may be the last people on earth is proven wrong, however, when an American military unit shows up at their front door. Led by Denton Van Zan (McConaughey), a self-proclaimed dragon hunter, and helicopter pilot Alex Jensen (Izabella Scorupco), the unit’s goal is to eradicate the entire dragon population. But is Van Zan truly a hero, or is he an obsessed madman taking on an enemy he can’t possibly defeat?
Despite its impressive cast, the performances in Reign of Fire are… shall we say… a bit too intense for their own good (McConaughey is especially over-the-top as the leader hell-bent on eliminating the dragon threat once and for all). In addition, the story is littered with plot holes (No matter how you slice it, there had to be more than one dragon when this whole thing started). What the movie does offer, though, is some bad-ass monsters, which, for the most part, look damn realistic. This, combined with a handful of excellent action scenes (the best of which has Van Zan’s outfit battling a particularly tricky dragon in the skies over Northumberland), makes it easy to overlook the film’s various deficiencies.
Though not what I would call a “good” movie, Reign of Fire is always interesting, and in a film where the giant reptiles are the most convincing characters, that’s about all you can hope for.