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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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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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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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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The dragons are spectacular.
beth83_19987 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Reign of Fire is a must see movie for its special effects and computer graphic dragons. The plot is wacky because of the theory the dinosaurs were killed by dragons. The actors are perfect for their roles and did a fine job. In London, an underground tunnel digging operation hits a cave containing the long dormant dragons. This causes the dragons to awake and spread all over the world. They burn everything in their path. The Earth is broiled and the dragons formed a dictatorship. All surviving organisms hide. Quinn is the leader of a small hiding community. His leadership comes to question when Americans show at their door. Big, grizzly Van Zan tells his story of being a dragonslayer, and Quinn lets them stay. Van Zan has a theory that there is only one male and it is living in London. He wants an army to help him kill the male and save the world. The computer graphics and special effects are awesome. Some movies have big dragons and little wings that somehow make it fly, but Reign of Fire's dragons have huge wingspan. The dragons look spectacular. Van Zan's leap into the dragon is the most exciting part of the movie. I think the director is combining fantasy and future to make the audience think that anything is possible. Bizarre things are going to happen in the future, but I do not think dragons are going to take over the world.
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10/10
A very underrated film that deserves to be seen
YouRebelScum22 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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8/10
Highly Entertaining, Interesting Movie
winstonsmith_8424 July 2002
The previews for this movie did not really interest or impress me at all. In fact, I went to this movie only half-interested with a friend who claimed that it would be a good movie. The PG rating worried me, and I was afraid it would be another poorly done movie. I mean, dragons in the future??

However, the previews didn't really say anything about the great acting, touching scenes, and great overall story and concept. What a surprise this movie was! Matthew McConnaughy does a great job, and I could only really half-believe it was him through the whole movie! He plays such an interesting character ... and then the highly rated Christian Bale lives up to his previous acting job... a brilliant performance on his part.

I really was impressed with this movie. It's a wonderful post-apocalyptic movie that explains the demise of the dinosaurs, and brings a whole new element to the evolution and recycling of life on planet Earth. Everything in this movie was great, and sci-fi fantasy fans, you MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!!

A few complaints though, no nothing too bad really.. just nitpicky: 1) a poor directing decision on filming parts of the dragon's eyesight perspective; this kind of technique is shabby, but luckily, it was for only 2 quick shots. 2) They should have explained how the tanks and helicopters get their fuel. 3) The end line was a little silly, something to do with evolution? Huh? 4) Where did all the female dragons go at the end? They just seem to dissapear... maybe an extra 2 minute scene there could have helped to explain the final demise of the dragons.

Overall, this movie is a winner! I'd rate it a solid 8/10 or so! See it! Finally, a post-apocalypse movie that is original, believeable, and doesn't have Kevin Costner in it!!!
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10/10
another neglected classic
raegan_butcher15 December 2003
I think this is the best post-apocalyptic action film since The Road Warrior. Everything about it works: the story, the acting, the sets, the special effects. It amazes me that this film never found it's audience. I think it's fantastic.A really interesting take on the dragon myth. Something never seen before in a film. Unfortunately, that summer of 2002 all anyone could think about was the over hyped debut of "spider man." Such a shame, because this film beats it by a mile in terms of imagination on display. The sequence where men attempt to snare a dragon in mid-air is something that has never been seen before on-screen. Amazing and excellent stuff, pulled off with panache.
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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
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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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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10/10
Absolutely loved it!
Usha777 February 2003
I think that even if I was not a huge fan of both leading men in this film, I would have loved it. It was entirely impossible to turn the movie off. It started off as a great concept and just got better with the characters' humor and realism. I am currently recommending it to all my friends and family (already a favorite of my mom, brother, niece, and nephew) Thoroughly enjoyable.
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Takes a while to warm up (ahem!) but gets better
bob the moo1 September 2002
In 2002, London. A group of workers on a new tube tunnel unleash a dragon from it's slumber. The end result is the destruction of much of the world and massive loss of life. Twenty years later humans live in small communities trying to survive the best they can as they hope the dragons will eventually starve without human cities to feast on. Quinn leads one such group until a group of US ex-soldiers turn up, led by Van Zan, who have more of a mind to fight back.

To enjoy this film you need to get over two big obstacles. First of all the poster – it's not for this film, it's for the prequel which I hope they plan to make. The poster shows dragons over a burning London and lots of helicopters all over the place. Basically it's a summer FX movie. However the film itself jumps this destruction and goes straight to the future, only telling us what happened through cheap footage etc. This is a big step as it's a real downer to not be allowed to see what happens when the dragon is freed – when we had the `2020' caption I was like `what the…..'. However this can be got over as the second half of the film is very good and has some good effects and good action (even if it never delivers on the poster).

The second obstacle is that it's silly and doesn't make sense. Once you accept that it's full of holes then you can sit back and enjoy it more. If you watch it and complain about plot holes then you're missing the point. For example – how come the dragons don't come and attack this fortress regularly, where does all this fuel keep coming from etc etc. But then again lets not forget that dragons aren't real either!

Like I said, the plot takes a while to get going. It's hard to watch Quinn's group in a damp castle when you know you SHOULD be seeing dragons rip into the world's cities. However when Van Zan turns up it gets a lot better and the action is good. The actual climax is also logically very weak but is very exciting and has a real nice touch plot wise.

Bale is good and is not as muscley as the Americans. He actually turned up having not worked out because he assumed that the characters would all be malnourished. But when he saw McConaughey he decided to bulk up a bit. McConaughey is really good as the pumped American. He is a bit OTT but really that's what this sort of film needs. Support is pretty bland which leaves the dragons. Sadly the dragons themselves are pretty empty bad guys. Because we never see them destroy the world their power is never feared. In later scenes this is done better but they are never more than big monsters (whereas Jurassic Park's monsters had character and threat).

Overall it took time to get going and it never lives up to the marketing hype but it's still enjoyable. Once you get past the two obstacles then you're free to enjoy the second half of the film and a really enjoyable climax.
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not exactly sizzling
Buddy-5131 July 2002
`Reign of Fire' is a no-more-than-passable sci-fi monster movie, strong on production values and special effects and weak on just about everything else. Once again we have the typical gray-and-khaki hued post-apocalyptic world filled with burnt out cities, roaming bands of grimy-faced survivors, and enough soot, dirt and rust to make the audience feel the need for a shower once they get out of the theatre (in other words, the `Mad Max' look).

The apocalypse in this case comes in the form of a race of fire-breathing dragons that are awakened from their millennia-long state of dormancy thanks to a deep-drilling construction project in downtown London. We are told that these ash-eating dragons hibernate for eons at a time waiting for the earth to replenish itself before embarking on another mission of total bio-global destruction. This is, in fact, the explanation for the demise of the dinosaurs, though, if this were indeed the case, one might question just how this species managed to so completely avoid leaving any evidence of its existence in the fossil record. In this kind of movie, it is probably best not to ask questions of this sort and to just go along with the sheer inanity of it all.

The first specimen to be unleashed is discovered by a young London lad named Quinn Abercrombie who, 18 years later, has grown up to be the hunky Christian Bale, leader of a group of survivors holed up in a kind of mountainside fortress with very little hope for a future. That is, of course, until one fateful day when `Dragon Slayer' Denton Van Dan (Matthew McConaughey) makes his sooty-faced appearance. From then on it becomes a battle of the minds and muscles between these two strong-willed individuals who have decidedly different ideas about how best to ensure the survival of the human race.

Movies like `Reign of Fire' pretty much preclude any real critical analysis. Suffice it to say that the special effects and art direction are quite impressive throughout, the dialogue bland and purely functional, and the performances adequate to the admittedly rather unchallenging task. And the characters are at least allowed to show their human side at times, displaying various amounts of fear, uncertainty and emotional vulnerability even at those moments when they are having to be at their most daring and heroic. There is one truly inspired scene in which two of the adults beguile the children by acting out the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader `I am your father' confrontation scene from `The Empire Strikes Back.' More clever moments like that would have helped make `Reign of Fire' a more distinctive film than it currently is.

Oh well, if nothing else, the theatre-shaking soundtrack is enough to keep you awake, if not exactly interested, at all times. But cranking up the volume is often the first indication that a movie has very little else to offer.
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6/10
Not perfect, but it's definitely worth keeping around.
DeviantSon137 April 2012
Perhaps it's just my childish weak spot for fire-breathing dragons, but this movie still strikes a chord with me. Granted, I'm not at all a fan of Matthew McConaughey, but the movie does its job being truly exciting and gritty.

I can understand some of the negative critiques and I've spotted a few things, myself. Most of them had to do with the fact that the story felt like it was missing a few parts. A perfect example is when Jared and Quinn (Bale) had a small argument after Quinn got into a fight with Van Zan (McConaughey). It felt like the conflict between the two suddenly came out of nowhere without being built up to anywhere in the story and it seemed to end without any real tension. In fact, the Jared character himself didn't really seem like he actually contributed to the story so the entire scene didn't really seem necessary.

Another thing that bugged me a little is that Christian Bale often spoke his lines extremely fast. It was almost as if he wanted to speed through his lines as quickly as possible. And granted, there is a lot of peril so it makes sense he'd want to keep things quick, but it can sometimes get a little annoying.

There were still a lot of good things about the movie, though. In my case, I've grown so tired of seeing dragons in movies where they were just small parts of stories like ploys in a giant strategy game. This time, though, they were free-willed predatory animals. That idea excited me. It also excited me that they kept the actual fairytale fantasy to a minimum. In fact, it didn't seem to exist at all. These weren't magical creatures. They were flesh and blood animals and the rules of real life mortality applied. And for me, that makes the entire thing much more plausible- save for maybe the "one male dragon" idea which seemed to be too close to the alien queen concept from "Aliens" (1986).

The dragon designs were also top notch. To this day, they still remain my favorite designs for any dragons I've seen anywhere in any other movie, game or artwork. The idea of adapting them to a bat-like design- allowing them to retain four limbs- was genius and much more realistic than featuring reptiles with six limbs- the four legs and two wings. The fiery breath was also made very realistic with the idea of chemicals as opposed to something like the "fire-lung" mentioned in "Dragonheart 2: A New Beginning" (2000). And for once, the dragons' wings were at a size that could justify lifting such massive animals. In short, I believed these designs.

Is this a perfect film? Absolutely not. The editing and screenplay sometimes seem rather sloppy and underdeveloped. But as far as dragon movies go, it's unique, much more realistic and extremely exciting. It's also fast-paced enough that it doesn't over-stay its welcome. It's a real monster movie. It's not perfect, but it's definitely worth keeping around.
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4/10
Here There Be a Silly Movie (possible spoilers, I guess)
pc_dean20 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Q: What's the difference between a fire-breathing dragon and a mid-summer movie?

A: One is a lumbering monster with a tiny brain that rains death and destruction, and the other is just a big lizard.

"Reign of Fire" is basically "Waterworld" with gasoline, with all that that entails. The story begins in London in 2008, when a tunnel crew unearths a massive underground chamber containing a dragon who, like most of us, is a little cranky first thing in the morning. The dragon, oddly, sleeps through the breaching of its den with a massive roaring drilling machine, and only wakes up when it is nudged. All of a sudden dragons are greeting the dawn all over the world and torching things with more reckless abandon than the U.S. Forest Service. The world is shortly destroyed, as we learn in a drawn-out opening sequence involving an unseen narrator writing in a journal, though he doesn't seem to be writing what he's saying. Most of the story takes place in 2020, where a society of refugees led by Quinn (Christian Bale) lives in a decrepit English castle, hiding from the dragons.

Things can only get so bad in Europe, of course, before the Americans show up, and show up they do, in an armored column of the Kentucky Irregulars, led by tattooed, bald nut case Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey). He has a crazy idea that entails killing the boss dragon, since it is the only male dragon of the millions around the globe (must be a busy fella).

It's critical in post-apocalypse movies to establish a credible and vivid world, with a balance of the modern and the primitive, and a sense of how societal priorities have changed to suit the new reality. The classic case was the jury-rigged ingenuity of the "Mad Max" movies, where V8 engines were prized and gasoline more precious than life. They weren't necessarily realistic, but they were believable, because they established a set of rules and stuck by them. "Reign of Fire" is all out of whack in this department: the castle-dwellers are on the brink of starvation, but seem to have a limitless supply of electricity, without even a cursory explanation of where it comes from. As part of their security net, they use massive searchlights to monitor the night skies. Uh, way to keep a low profile, guys. Van Zan's people, on the other hand, apparently have an endless supply of fuel, enough to maintain a gas-guzzling tank and a helicopter(!) with again, no hint of how. Not to mention the fact that the world was supposedly nuked to get rid of the dragons, yet the word "radiation" never so much as passes anyone's lips. Plus, the movie can't even keep track of its own timeline.

All this could have been forgiven if we got some gut-wrenching army n' dragon smackdowns. Van Zan is supposed to be a fearsome dragon killer, so you would figure that he and his militia would have some savvy anti-dragon tactics figured out, from the painful lessons learned by the doomed struggle of the world's armies, but no. When they take on a dragon in the castle environs, their plan of attack is so suicidally ludicrous it would take a minor miracle to work just once. Without going into too much detail, it involves ground-based radar monitors, a high-tech computer tracking system, and skydivers, all to try and bring the beast to earth so McConaughey can kill it with an axe. Seriously.

The movie has its good points, though: it is capably directed by TV veteran Rob Bowman, who at least manages to imbue the ridiculous proceedings with some sort of dramatic tension. The climactic battle is pretty impressive, and there is an awesome scene of the dragon hovering over the militia while lines of tracers whip through the night sky and the smoke roils under his wings. Wolf Kroeger's production design isn't bad, the landscape is suitably scorched and desperate, though it looks like they might have swiped some sets from "Enemy at the Gates". The dragons themselves, of course, are amazing. They are truly mean hombres of fluid reptilian grace, whose jaws leak flaming liquid as they breathe. They (almost) convince you that they really could have destroyed the world, that they wouldn't have been swatted from the sky in two seconds by any F-18 pilot with half a brain and a rack of heat-seekers. But then you expect great effects from even the most dim-witted of movies these days.

Like most monster movies, "Reign of Fire" suffers badly when the monsters are offscreen catching a smoke break, and we are left with flat characters speaking silly dialogue in a tepid story. Bale is all right, though his character comes off as something of a weenie. McConaughey, meanwhile, has no chemistry with anyone or anything on screen. He's a buffed-out paramilitary psycho, but not an interesting one. You can't figure out how he became the leader (maybe he was the only one who could drive a tank). The most engaging character is Alex, the helicopter pilot, played by Izabella Scorupco (the luminous computer expert in "GoldenEye"), who isn't given much attention by the script, but who seems like she would have been a better choice to lead the militia. Too bad she wasn't the main character.

But the humans aren't the real stars anyway. I sort of picture a dragon, guzzling an Evian bottle of lighter fluid, and barking into his cell phone:

"I'm telling you, Marty, I've had it! C'mon, I can fly! I can breathe fire! That idiot T-Rex gets a three-picture deal with Spielberg, and what do I get? First "Dungeons & Dragons" and now THIS! Whaddaya doing to me? Get me a meeting with Katzenberg, or I torch Burbank."
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6/10
An Uneasy Mix Of Two Genres
Theo Robertson6 January 2005
Watching REIGN OF FIRE I was left with the impression that the script was originally written as a bleak post apocalyptic drama in the tradition of John Wyndham and John Christopher , where a Hollywood studio decided the script wasn't marketable enough so a studio executive decided to introduce dragons into the screenplay as a commercial gimmick

Where REIGN OF FIRE works best is in its survivalist themes . Quinn leads a band of survivors and when they hear " Edinburgh is gone " they react if it's the worst news in the world . You can believe these guys are starving to death , that all hope is gone and when they see Denton's American militia arrive you know that the undercurrents of tribalism and rivalry are going to surface . Unlike 28 DAYS LATER this movie almost works as post apocalyptic thriller

These "Shattered Earth " ideas are very convincing but as soon as the dragons are introduced the illusion falls apart because for a film marketed as featuring fire breathing dragons ( You have seen the posters right ? ) they seem to be there as an after thought and are totally underdeveloped in the script . There's no real explanation as to how or why the dragons were hibernating in the London underground and the whole concept doesn't bare up to any close scrutiny . Why weren't nuclear weapons effective against them when a dragon can be killed with a road pick ? Very little thought indeed seems to have gone into this aspect of the script and needless to say the ending is a cop out

Note to Hollywood executives - If you're going to finance a film that features a desperate band of survivors can you cut out gimmicks like zombies and dragons please ? Thank you
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8/10
Gerard Butler best thing about it
donkeyfur19 March 2005
I read nearly half of the users' comments (there are 400+ in all)on "Reign of Fire" and saw only two references to Gerard Butler: one simply mentioning he's in it and the other slamming him in general. I disagree and am surprised at the lack of regard for his being in the movie. His is arguably the most sympathetic character in the movie and likely the only one with any sense of humor. I purposely see every movie Gerard Butler is in -- it is what draws me to the theater for certain films, such as this one. I probably would watch him reading the phone book! That being said, I enjoyed this movie. Yes, it can be seen that they cut corners in terms of the shortage of special effects scenes and the poster WAS misleading. But I think people are jaded these days. After seeing so many movies with explosive effects, people aren't satisfied with anything less. I also enjoyed "Timeline", in which Gerard also stars. That movie, too, was widely slammed, but I liked it. I like fantasy films with a bit of romance. I like effects, too, but I don't think that's all there is to it. I can't wait to see Gerard in "Beowulf and Grendel" but I'm sure people are already sharpening their knives to crucify him and that movie, too!
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4/10
Mad Max meets the Dragons
Billy-11631 December 2002
Mad Max meets the Dragons.

What a silly waste of film. A decent idea with a horrid film attached. And they could have saved a lot of money using B&W film; the rare color of note is only the flames. Grey, blue and black are poor tools. Maybe it's supposed to remind us of old WWII films?

The Disney version will probably be better.

A study in why simply adding fire and big booms to a movie is not enough.

And why, when in species danger, do humans have to dress up as medieval persons?

Christian Bale should have quit at 15 and become a tax collector, duller than the sharp end of an egg.

Don't pay for it, wait for it on Mystery Theater 3000.
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10/10
Saw this and "Road". Gotta pick this one.
ellusion28 July 2002
I thought this movie would be a real stinker. But it's hot outside, so I thought i'd sit in the dark air conditioned theatre and watch all the fire. Man was it fun! A million times better than I thought it would be. It was scary, it was intense, it was touching, and it gave one of the funniest nods to our culture i've ever seen. A long time ago wars seperated men and ruined cities. They grabbed the bible as a link to each other, and to their past, with it's legend, and lore and dogma. Of course in our day and age, the survivors would probably worship harry potter instead of jesus. Sorry for rambling, but i thought they're cultural religion and storytelling was great.

Matthew McConaughey, wow. This is the first time i've seen him as ugly, ruthless, hateful bitter character. And i still wanted to see him. I sort of just thought of him as a pretty face, but even uglied up he still has a great deal of presence on the screen. Christian Bale never really fails to delight me. From All The Little Animals to American Psycho, super sweet to super nasty, he never lets me down. I'm a little worried about the two here though, they looked like they had been pumped full of steroids. I had no idea, it was like a pec war between them. I loved the Dragons. That is what impressed me the most. Now at times, it was a little iffy, but much better than SpiderMan, or Jurassic park. I was scared by these Dragons. It didn't look like a movie with cartoons filling in the holes. There is one seen where Quinn comes back to camp on a horse and is surrounded by a whirling sea of glowing embers.

That scene is worth the price of admission. A very good movie. I went with a group of six people. And we all agreed, (which we never do). It had suprised us at how good the film was. Now it won't win any oscars, but if you want to be entertained, run to the cinema. The line for Perdition will be long. But skip it. It's boring and way too long and like a million movies you've already seen. If you wanna feel for Perdition, if you wanna get a peek at hell, see Reign of Fire!
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10/10
Very Original!!
sorkacat21 July 2002
I think the film was perfect. It completely did the job it set out to do: to make an original film out of an old concept. Being a special effects person, I went purely for that and I was not disappointed. Flawless special effects. FLAWLESS. I have not been this satisfied with a movie (effects-wise) since Dragonheart. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
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10/10
"Reign of Fire" was a great!
Margie8321 July 2002
I thought "Reign of Fire" was a great movie. Christian Bale gave an outstanding performance. It had me literally on the edge of my seat. I especially liked the no sex, very little romance part. (the only "sexual content" is hand holding and one couple in bed fully clothed sleeping) I was surprised at the ending, and at many parts jumped out of my skin! It was a riveting adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat. Two thumbs up!
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10/10
What a night
stokesy17 July 2002
I was lucky enough to see this movie at the Hollywood premiere in Westwood, LA. I am surprised to see so many negative comments about it here, as to me it was an absolute gem. The acting was good, suspense was kept high by not having too many dragons all the time and it just becoming a shoot-em-up, and the special effects were awesome - the scene at the end of the movie where Christian Bale is lifted off the ground by impact (I won't spoil it for anyone by saying why) was just fantastic and worth the admission money alone! Apart from the movie it was fun star-spotting, seeing David Duchovny and the other guy off the X-Files/Terminator 2 (can never remember his name), David Arquette and Christian and other members of the cast. I think Christian Bale is a much under-rated actor - his performance in American Psycho was an absolute tour de force and here he is again with another solid performance. I hope the movie does really well, it deserves to.
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