Reign of Fire (2002)
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"Somebody's not too happy about the dailys!"
What do you get when you cross Mad Max, Dragonslayer and Aliens? You get the futuristic, macho male actioneer Reign of Fire.
This picture takes place on Earth in the not so distant future, and finds mankind nearly obliterated by fire breathing dragons. These are not the rare and mystical creatures often associated with mythology. No, these dragons are monsters in every sense of the word. Fierce, intelligent hunting machines that feed on humans. Christian Bale plays a soldier who knows the beasts all too well, and while he has dedicated his life to protecting a family of survivors, he is put to the test when he meets a gung ho military man played by Matthew McConaughey (sporting a bald head).
What really took be be surprise in Reign of Fire were some of the performances. This is the best Bale has been in a film since his debut in Steven Spielberg's underrated Empire of the Sun. He more than holds his own against tons of high tech special effects. McConaughey is also effective as the macho grunt who tests Bale's patience. In the early going, he appears as nothing more than an average tough guy, but as the story progresses, he reveals much more beneath that gritty surface.
Reign of Fire was directed by X-Files veteran Rob Bowman. The film opens promisingly, but is unable to deliver in it's final act. Strangely, the movie works best when it's concentrating on character. This isn't to say that the dragons aren't impressive to look at. They certainly are even if they do lack personality.
Reign of Fire is also very bleak. Bowman injects a dark tone that suggests the end of the world might be near, and his dragons seem to represent the prince of darkness. Of course this movie does offer a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
Even though the end of this picture is less than satisfactory, I quite enjoyed Reign of Fire. It's big, loud, and full of stronger performances than a film of this type really deserves. And while the movie doesn't portray dragons in a typical fashion, I'll take Reign of Fire over Dragonheart any day.
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