Reign of Fire
Starring:
Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler
Directed By:
Rob Bowman
Grade
B+

As a young boy, Quinn visits his mother, who is working on a construction project, digging out tunnels underneath London, when the crew happens upon a void in the earth. Inside the void, a dragon awakens and kills everyone on the construction site, except for the boy. From that point, legions of dragons begin to ravage the earth and over the next few years, the world is at war with the flying beasts, which happen to be growing in large numbers despite efforts to combat them. The superior predators take their toll, laying waste to most of the modern world and devouring the human race like food. Some years later, we find Quinn as a grown man - the leader of a rag-tag group of survivors living in a castle in Northumberton. The dragons still live, but they seems to be going hungry as a large portion of the human population is either dead or in hiding.

Tensions are high in the group as some of the survivors fear that they won't live much longer. Food is scarce and they live in fear of the dragons everyday. When a group of American dragon slayers arrive and slay a dragon, the survivors rejoice, but only temporarily. The American's ultimate goal is London, where they believe that the only male dragon, the soul source for fertilizing the dragon eggs, lives.

McConaughey is oddly enigmatic as Van Zan, the leader of the dragon slayers. A man who's been pushed to the edge, Van Zan no longer feels anything, except the drive to wipe out the dragons. To him, life has no purpose but his final goal. Bale's Quinn is a deeply scarred individual, who has a tenderness about him, especially when it comes to the children of the group. But, he often hides that tenderness under the hard skin he's built over the years. Both Quinn and Van Zan seem to be etched in stone and covered in a layer of grime. They're gruff, harsh men, each with their own agendas.

Both the set design and soundtrack add immensely to a look and sound that can be best described as an amalgam of industrial gothic, medieval and a touch of World War 2 era Europe. The cinematography is excellent and many scenes are shot with a filter to enhance the bleakness of the situation. Outside shots are done in strong blue tones, while interior shots are often lit warmly and have a dark earthiness to them. There are only a few times where the camera seems to jerk around too much, making certain scenes a little confusing. Thankfully, it doesn't happen too often.

I would be remiss not to mention the crowning jewel of the movie: the dragons. Not since Jurassic Park have I been impressed with the computer generate monsters that inhabit Reign of Fire. The dragons are excellently animated and in sequences where you get a good close view, they come across as real and menacing.

Reign of Fire is an excellent sci-fi flick that neither requires nor asks the audience to think too hard about the events. The science and fact of the story tend to bog down the excellently presented fantasy. Ambiance, some pretty good performances by Bale and McConaughey (to a lesser degree - he could have used a little more depth), and both good effects and set design add to a flick that most sci fi fans will be glad they caught.

- - Kinderfeld

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