Reign of Fire (2002) Poster

(2002)

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8/10
Mis-Advertised
PyroSikTh28 March 2009
I love this film. It shows the very human struggle to survive after they've been knocked from the top of the food chain. It blends medieval mythology with a modern era breathlessly. Definitely an original take on Man vs Dragon. Now to get this straight, this is a film about Humans, not about Dragons. The dragons merely supply the unique reason for the apocalypse. This is a film about the post-apocalypse, not the apocalypse. It's not about skies full of Dragons turning worldwide armed forces into ash on an epic scale. It's not about Dragons setting the world, quite literally, on fire. It's about after all that's happened.

Which is a shame this was advertised as a film about Dragons burning all life as we know it. Of course, everyone goes in expecting to see 90 minutes of Dragons destroying everything. If this had been advertised as a more human film about after these Dragons have completely wasted everything, I really think this could've been seen as a good film. It unfortunately set expectations high in the wrong sort of viewers by a mind-blowingly epic trailer.

Christian Bale, Gerard Butler and Matthew McConaughey all deliver their role superbly, and the script isn't as bad as it's made out to be either. The effects were great and the Dragons do look pretty realistic, to the point I almost believed this was a documentary. Okay, so there are some plot holes, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to fill those in yourself. I mean, does everything have to be explained so obviously? The only reason this film gets 4 stars and not 5 is because, being a film about human struggle, it could've done with a bit more character development. Other than that, it's a deeply entertaining, well-acted, suspenseful film.

Don't knock it before you see it for yourself.
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7/10
Pretty Straightforward Stuff
ccthemovieman-124 May 2006
This was a bit different than one expected. There was no nonsense, no tongue-in-cheek humor or special-effects just for the sake of it: this was simply a humans vs. dragons story taking place in the future. No laughs and nothing hokey, which is what I expected. They played it straight, simply as a fight story between the two parties.

Yes, there were credibility problems with the story but overall, it was good escapist adventure. The dragons were realistic-looking, the scenery dreary but the story interesting and intense in spots.

I wouldn't buy it, but I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a night of adventure on film. You could do a whole lot worse, especially with two young actors who have arrived as stars: Christian Bale and Matthew McConnaughey.
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Superb visuals make this a bit more than just glorious mindless fun.
Chris Knipp16 July 2002
`Reign of Fire's' premise is simple: the world has been wiped out by airborne, fire-breathing dragons, who at first multiplied by the thousands but now themselves are starving and dying off. A few bands of people remain here and there trying to survive. Quinn (Christian Bale, with whiskers and glottal stops), who was on the scene as a boy in London when the first sleeping dragon awakened in a cave unearthed by an Underground project his mum was working on, leads a group of survivors in the north of England who're just trying to get a crop going for the next year and save a little mob of children. In comes Van Zan (Mathew McConaughey, with shaved head and brawny tattooed arms) leading an American helicopter crew. He's become a dragon slayer and since he's found there's only one male dragon left and it's somewhere around London, he's come to solicit aid. Quinn refuses. Van Zan pushes on to London without Quinn. They fail. He returns and begs Quinn to come as guide. What follows is the finale.

If you probe too deeply into the premise you're not going to have any fun, but fun is what this movie offers, glorious mindless fun and, above all, fabulous apocalyptic visuals of twisted metal, crepuscular landscapes, dark hulking ruins, and men crawling through them to fire off weapons at the evil birds, which look very graceful as they sweep through the skies and spurt out long expanding streams of fire. Shots are so stunningly composed you want them to freeze-frame. Within the dark end-of-the-world light there is amazing clarity. Working with Ridley Scott's cinematographer Adrian Biddle, X-Files director Rob Bowman has produced the best fantasy landscape this year next to `Lord of the Rings.' When Van Zan leads a hunt in the sky, it's like a computer game, and sometimes we see the game through the eyes of the dragon and it looks like a degraded digital film. However, it's not ingenuity of conception but sheer aesthetic appeal that makes the visuals of this movie so good.

The other large positive factor is the very solid, mostly English cast including a number of appealing youngsters led by Scott James Moutter as Jared, Quinn's adopted son, not to mention Bale, who brings a striking level of naturalness and conviction to his role as the sensitive, conscience-stricken Quinn. Bale's a foil to McConaughey's American macho militarist icon. McConaughey, whose finely chiseled face can be seen staring in mirrors in `Thirteen Conversations About One Thing,' is having a lark playing a brute here, but in the moments when he isn't shouting, he gives Van Zan almost as much conviction as Bale gives Quinn. Ladies are in short supply in this story: there's Alex (Izabella Scorupco) as Van Zan's helicopter pilot who winds up with Quinn, and for five minutes there's Alice Krige as young Quinn's mum. But since this movie's ideal audience might surely be young teenage boys, that's probably enough. Other things are lacking too, such as more variety in the dragons, more recognizable details of the wrecked London of the final scenes, some more colorful characters among Quinn's community, as in post-apocalyptic classics like `Mad Max.' But to say that is to miss the point, which is that this is a fast, exhilarating ride that's a feast for the eyes. If you want to view all this as a `B' horror picture, fine: just grant that it's a first-class version. To be seen, by all means, on a big screen, preferably in a big, old-time movie house.
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Ashes to Ashes!
uds34 October 2002
The usual quota of "surface reviews" here. Are we living in a totally one-dimensional society these days that has no time now for unsupported fantasy - "Just the facts Ma'am, Just the facts!"

We have here an adult fairytale no less, yet what do I read (and I include paid media critics here) but absurd negative comments such as "How did McConaughey and his intrepid band of marines come up with the fuel to cross the atlantic?" "Why are the children seemingly so well fed in a period of pestilence?" "Where does the seemingly limitless fuel come from?" etc etc. Who CARES????????? this is a DRAGON fantasy for God sakes! Someone want to set up a Government enquiry as to why fairies speak English? the possibility that Humpty Dumpty had a middle-ear infection? Perhaps the Easter Bunny has some communicable diseases that he should be tested for?

Ok REIGN OF FIRE is not up there with other sci-fi classics and the marketing department should be answering charges of misrepresentation for that poster showing an aerial armada of helicopters battling the fire-breathing beasties over central London - that just never happens but I gotta tell you REIGN OF FIRE has some of the greatest set designs and cinematography I have ever seen. It is extremely interesting to LOOK at from a technical viewpoint. The dragons themselves make the least interesting contribution to the film and except for the final confrontation which almost "gets there" they are really secondary to the film itself. If you were to actually record the amount of dragon "screen time" I doubt it would be 18 minutes....and most of them are not far off laughable. Curiously, that aspect alone should have wrecked it for me...but it didn't - I found the "wasteland asharamas" totally credible and involving.

I thought the much maligned McConaughey's role not without interest. Still haven't worked out whether or not "Mad Matt" was supposed to be some hybrid creation - part Patton, part Maximus, part Captain Ahab or just all "grunt." He certainly handled his last solo flight with flair and derring-do. Basil Rathbone himself never swung a meaner sword! Christian Bale replete with his best "know wot I mean" brit accent was pretty good I thought as Quinn the reluctant colony leader. What I couldn't believe is how the years have treated Izabella Scorupco the most beautiful Bond girl I ever saw (GOLDENEYE). I realise that a decade of fighting dragons and close-contact aeriel combat takes a lot out of a girl but she looked 20 years older! I would never have recognised her. Totally shattered an illusion I have maintained of her. If she said "Boys with Toys" now, I think I'd need a double vodka-martini!

But I digress. The dragon fx were just so-so, they saved the best for last sensibly. The script had its moments but the production work and set-design were simply awesome...SO good in fact, the rest of the film really didn't matter! Overall I would bequeath it a 6.9. Worth seeing if one is prepared to watch it in the spirit that it was made.
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10/10
There are real live dragons to watch out for.
eviltoon-126 November 2002
This film will have you believing in dragons. You'll wish there were no such creatures. These dragons have no fairly tale quality about them. They are big and nasty. They have risen up and have all but destroyed the earth. The few surviving groups of people are merely trying to survive this new reign of fire.

The acting by the lead cast is excellent. The story line is pretty intricate for a special effects type film. Most of the film takes place in Scotland, and this helps create the cold, dark, damp atmosphere.

Reign of Fire is a very ambitious film. I loved it.
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8/10
Better than You'd Expect
kurthlt21 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Because of the B movie storyline--helicopters and tanks vs. dragons--many people will dismiss this movie out of hand. "Special effects-laden drivel," they'll say. They miss the fact that this movie is actually very well crafted. It's a decent script, with some good lines and clever little additions like Quinn's serial play based on Star Wars to entertain the children before bed.

The acting is well above average all around; Christian Bale and Gerard Butler are particular stand-outs. The story is more emotional than you'd expect, which makes the action sequences more gripping. The fist fight between Quinn and Van Zan is particularly brutal and engaging. The cinematography is quite good, but that's what you'd expect when you're filling the screen with dragons. And of course the special effects are incredible. The dragons are much better than Dragonheart or Harry Potter.

The music is well integrated--nothing over-the-top or grandiose, like Lord of the Rings, for example. It sets the tone well without being overbearing.

All in all, it's a well crafted movie, a labor of love by director Rob Bowman. While the plot isn't for everyone, the emotional impact and superior acting help Reign of Fire stand out among action and sci fi films.
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10/10
Reign of Fire Reigns
Sn0wman19 March 2003
This film was very well done. I had heard a lot of negative hype before I saw it but I was impressed. This film tells a great story about the human race becoming refugees and fighting the force that dominated them. The characters were played very well, they were hard people living in hard times. The children added perspective and even hope that humans could outlast the beasts. The visual effects are stunning, from the dragons to the wasteland the film has a dark beauty. The plot is survival of the fittest, and only one species will survive.
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Silly but entertaining b-grade post-apocalyptic thriller.
Infofreak27 May 2003
Seems like I'm in a minority enjoying this one! It amazes me that so many people are quick to put the boot in to this (admittedly) silly but entertaining b-grade post-apocalyptic thriller yet line up to watch the absolutely awful and overblown Star Wars movies. Yes, I said b-grade, because despite the budget being close to $100 million, that's exactly what it is, a b-grade sci fi movie, no more, no less. Fans of Roy Ward Baker's 'Quatermass and the Pit', Larry Cohen's 'Q: The Winged Serpent' and Tobe Hooper's 'Lifeforce', all of which 'Reign Of Fire' reminded me of at various points, will enjoy this one more than the Blockbuster crowd. Christian Bale ('American Psycho') and Matthew McConaughey ('Frailty') are both pretty good as the leader of an underground community and a hardass military man respectively, who both have different approaches to their shared problem - the ongoing threat of dragon attacks. Yes, in this future dragons are real and have devastated the world, and only a handful of human survivors exist. Once you can accept that premise, and some of the "scientific" explanations for the why and wherefores of the dragons, you're in for a wild ride. No-one's gonna argue this is a great movie, but it's a lot of fun, and I recommend it, especially with beer and pizza.
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7/10
An interesting step for science fiction
Agent1022 July 2002
Sure, it was cheesy and low budget, but the indomitable Rob Bowman didn't pull any punches in this futuristic drama about dragons. Giving a scientific edge to a creature based in fantasy, this film proved to be a rather refreshing step in science fiction, which means it won't be a well received one. Even if this film barely makes its money back, at least it leaves the door open for other fantastic ideas in the science fiction genre.

As for the film, the technical side was excellent. Bowman, a former television director proves he can do just as well with a 50 million dollar budget (?) and a tough to sell idea. Both Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey were believable as care taking heroes. Their bipolar dynamic was especially excellent, creating tension not just in beliefs but also in culture and devotion to country. McConaughey was especially good as Van Zant (which was well cast, considering he is an actual southerner), bringing a role to his resume which I had never seen. All in all, a decent film to watch. 7/10
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10/10
A very underrated film that deserves to be seen
Frederick22 May 2003
Caught this on DVD recently and was happily surprised. It's a 'post-apocalypse' story where mankind is reduced to living an almost stone-age existence by a global disaster, but this time the apocalypse is brought about not by nuclear weapons but a race of dragons unleashed from the depths of the earth by over-ambitious mining! OK, it's a pretty silly concept, but the whole thing is handled with panache. Director Rob (X-Files) Bowman is obviously at home with this kind of subject matter and the visuals are excellent thanks to cinematographer Adrian Biddel, a dab hand at photographing the impossible thanks to his work on the two Mummy films and The World Is Not Enough. Critics here in the UK panned it when it came out, saying that it needed more special effects, but they completely missed out on the charm of the film, which was in the ingenious ways that it showed the human race had been changed by the onset of the dragons. I loved the scene where Quinn and his sidekick, having to entertain a castle full of children without the benefit of TV or video games, enact a scene from Star Wars, providing both dialogue and narration as they go.

Don't listen to the critics, this is definitely worth a look.
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