Reign of Fire (2002)
Director: Rob Bowman
Matthew McConaughey/Van Zan
In the present day, dragons (yes, DRAGONS!) are unwillingly released from their earthly resting place and wind up ravaging the world as we know it. Years later in a post apocalyptic future, one man (Bale) is leading a small group of survivors, having developed a system to ward off/avoid the flying lizards. When a macho military Yankee (McConaughey) arrives at their door with a bad attitude and a unit of Dragon Slayers, he presents another alternative to dealing with the reptilian presence: hunt and eliminate. Ideologies clash but eventually dragons are bitch-slapped hard. Humanity ain't going down like that yo!
"We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the very easy way"--- Van Zan
When I think dragons, I think board games, cheesy movies and my pet hamster (he be feisty!) but while watching this fiesta of pure amusement, "Mad Max", "Pitch Black" and "Aliens" popped into my mind. How refreshing! Sure, you’ll find lots of elements from those previously mentioned films in here, but fear not young murderers on “Ritalin”; this is NOT a moolah driven, sell-out retread. There’s heart, ambition, drama, action and laughs on this plate. To be honest, the film doesn’t always hit bang-on at what it aims, but at least you see it trying real hard. That counts for something and I have to respect that.
My main hooks to this merry-go-round of testy dragons on the rampage were actually the main duders at work. Our boy Quinn for example is a flawed man, and he’d rather hide than face his fears. He’s played in such an earnest way by Christian Bale that you can’t help but understand and forgive the questionable choices that he makes. The same can be said about Van Zan (McConaughey) who actually acts as a Ying to Quinn’s Yang. This super dope macho psycho kool dude is all about charging in with furious anger. Even though his violent nature does cost him at one point, we also forgive that. Maybe I read too much into all of this, but I found a lot of depth in these testosterone-filled bad boys and that made the flick so much more than just another peeved creature on the loose entry.
SPECIAL ARROW MENTION: I’d like to ignite a bonfire for Matthew McConaughey’s performance here. The crazy bastard had me at "hello" with that shaved head and that mean guns vibe. I wanted to hang with him, be like him and kill dragons with him. HE RULED! He also gives this raw role a substantial amount of layers too! Who knew? It's official, Matthew McConaughey is a solid actor. Why did it take me so long to realize that? Now on with the review -->
The endearing players definitely upped the already high stake of the movie. They made the action sequences so much more engaging and suspenseful to sit through! I was on the edge of my “Kit-Kat” more than once, that’s fer sure! The physical confrontations themselves were also mucho exhilarating on their own. Wait 'till you see that insane skydiving after the dragon bit or the Van Zan axe jump (a money shot if I’ve ever seen one)…FUN FREAKING TIMES! You just can’t go wrong with stuff like a muscled and tattooed Matthew McConaughey shooting at a flying dragon with a shotgun while falling backwards in slow motion! YOU JUST CAN’T! Man, I can’t stop praising Matthew McConaughey! I need help! They should’ve called this movie Reign of McConaughey! DAMN!
Now the film is far from perfect, first off...it has its fair share of minor plot boo-boos but they honestly didn’t grate me. I unconsciously overlooked them due to the groovy party I was having in my seat. I did have a problem with two of the side characters though: Alex (Scorupko) wasn’t fleshed out enough for my liking and neither was the hint at the love story she brought in. Creedy (Butler) was also shamefully underused. Butler gives a very charismatic turn but I didn’t dig his character arc. He deserved more screen time. But my main beef with the flick would have to be the transition between the second block of the narrative and the conclusion. It happened way too fast! Not only that but I also felt like the end confrontation itself went down a bit too quick. I mean, this was supposed to be the payoff right? Yes, it was still a hoot and a half but I wanted more of it! There’s no rush here guys, I'm not going anywhere! Stretch it out! I felt some studio chop-chop there…I might be wrong but I feel like that was the case.
When all was said and burned to the ground though, I can’t discard the massive smiles this that dragonfest brought me. Sure, the movie does become un-intentionally funny/campy at times, but that never hurt the whole of the film for me. In fact, it was the total opposite...it just made it a kooler watch. Tag to that some decent CGI dragon effects, some gripping dramatic sequences, some surprisingly sharp/funny lines (you guessed it, McConaughey has all the best ones….does he ever!) and a thick spread of high octane directing and you get your money’s worth at the ticket counter. Grab the axe and skin this Dragon!
Not much gore here. I mean folks get gobbled up by dragons; Matthew McConaughey has a shaved head but no real grub. Light red does flow though.
Matthew McConaughey (Denton) commands the screen with his aggressive, pumped up and entertaining show. The sugar on top is that he also nails the emotional scenes, making his character more than just another tough guy. WOW! Christian Bale (Quinn) also handled his well-rounded role like a hero. I forgot Patrick Bateman when I saw him and that is an immense feat in itself. YOU GO WITH YOUR BAD SELF! Izabella Scorupko (Alex) does what she has to do. She’s very subdued and her role is underwritten. Gerard Butler (Creedy) is very amusing in the screen time he’s given. I wanted more of this funny bastard!
T & A
It's ladies night tonight! All you can eat, dolls! You get Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale showing off their time well spent at the gym as they go shirtless. Enjoy gals! You deserve it! Us dudes get squat.
Rob Bowman learned his trade on The X-Files and does no wrong here. The flick is tight, the action is on, the style is properly used (loved the slow motion) and the camera movements are on the money. He had me by the jaw!
The score by Ed Shearmur is jackpot and often made the happenings more involving. We also get a stony Jimmy Hendrix ditty.
Distributor: Buena Vista Home Video
Release Date: November 19, 2002
IMAGE: The Widescreen (2:35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TV image is bang-on, with solid colors, a clear and crisp vibe and absence of grain all around. A picture perfect image.
SOUND: We get an English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound that does the movie justice in delivering on every sound level; be it score, sound effects and dialogue. Grade A! We also get a DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound option.
Breathing Life into the Fire (~ 8 minutes): In this fast-paced featurette, cast and crew come in to talk about the film and mostly wind up blabbing about the "dragon" special effects. They go into the research that went into the dragons prior to shooting and explain the ways they were accomplished for the screen. This is a flashy, entertaining and slickly edited feature.
If You Can't Take the Heat (~ 15 minutes): This feature takes us on the Reign of Fire set in Ireland to watch pyrotechnician Dave Gauthier work on some of the live fire effects for the film. David gives us some insight as to what his job entails and we get some groovy set footage of takes being shot. Interesting.
Conversations with Rob Bowman (~ 12 minutes): Here, the very enthusiastic Rob Bowman talks to us about what used to scare him as a kid (Nightstalker series), his beloved directorial stint on the X-Files and Reign of Fire. He also talks about the hardships of shooting without the villain on set (yes, the dragons are CGI, kids) and expresses what he wanted to accomplish with the film. This feature is the best one of the lot in my opinion; it always grips me to listen to somebody talk about a subject matter for which they are passionate.
We also get the Theatrical Trailer and Sneak Peeks (The Count of Monte Cristo / Bad Company / Reign of Fire Video game (dope stuff) and Kingdom Hearts).
Overall, this a solid DVD with potent extras and quality oozing all around. The movie is pretty bad-ass too! Get it!
This wild guitar hit all kinds of crazy twangs but somehow managed to make the tune a sweet ass one. The flick is dead serious at times, bringing up heavy themes, but it also likes to venture to a campier zone on occasion (Intentionally? Who cares!). For some mysterious reason, that’s sealed in movie heaven, it gelled and I devoured it whole. See it for Matthew McConaughey (did I tell you he ownz?), see it for the mad action, see it for the hilarious lines and see it with some popcorn and the theatre usher bent over your lap. Or don’t see it. It’s your world, homes...I’m just living in it. I’ve always wanted to say that.
The film was shot in England and in Ireland.
Gerard Butler is best known for playing The Count in "Dracula 2000".
Rob Bowman also directed the very entertaining "X-Files" feature.