Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailers; 'Breathing Life
Into The Terror' making-of featurette; 'If You Can't Stand the
Heat' pyrotechnics featurette; Conversations with director Rob
FROM its wonderful poster, featuring fire-breathing dragons fighting
helicopters above the Houses of Parliament in London, you would
have every right to expect Reign of Fire to deliver one of the
most spectacular blockbusters of the year.
Sadly, you would be wrong. The scene in question, as appetising
as it looks, never actually features in the movie, save for making
a brief cameo in a newspaper clipping during the opening titles
What remains, however, is a braindead, but hopelessly enjoyable
crowd-pleaser from X-Files: The Movie director Rob Bowman, which
seldom reaches the heights expected from its teaser poster.
Reign of Fire begins in present-day London, when a 12-year-old
boy, named Quinn, inadvertently wakes an enormous fire-breathing
dragon from its centuries-long slumber in the Underground. It
then skips forward, 20 years later, to find the dragon and its
offspring in control of the planet, with the small pockets of
surviving humans forced to exist in small communities, ever-mindful
of the threat from above.
One such community is held together by Christian Bales
earnest fire chief, Quinn, still coming to terms with the consequences
of his actions and struggling to maintain unity, until the arrival
of Matthew McConaugheys gruff American, Van Zan, who is
determined to kill the beasts.
What follows is a battle of wits, as McConaughey bids to find
and destroy the bull which Quinn discovered while trying to earn
the support and respect of his British counterpart.
For the most part, Reign of Fire is good, harmless fun, featuring
some stellar performances from its engaging leads and some nifty
dragon sequences - including a pulsating mid-air chase in which
three skydivers and one helicopter go head to head with a dragon
above the English countryside.
Bale makes a suitably vexed hero, while McConaugheys beefed-up
American dragonslayer provides an equally well-realised foil -
his arrival, straddling the gun of a massive tank, is a suitably
OTT introduction to his equally OTT character, while his big fight
scene with Bale features one of the best (and, apparently, real)
headbutts in recent screen memory.
But while Bowman deserves praise for the look of the film (the
final scenes, in a scorched capital are particularly effective)
and for the way in which he seldom makes proceedings seem too
preposterous, you cant help but feeling he has missed at
least one trick with the dragons.
As impressive as they are when they do appear, there is no sense
of fear or menace about them, which makes Reign of Fire a far
more relaxed experience than it really ought to be. All the best
monster movies - from Jaws through to Jurassic Park - feature
sequences of nerve-shredding tension which help to rate them so
highly; yet Bowmans creations fail to conjure the necessary
Not so much a summer scorcher, then, but a hot ticket that remains
boisterously good fun for the undemanding multiplex-goers.