Reign Of Fire

Reign Of Fire

*1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Post-Armageddon movies have one thing in common, an isolated group of survivors, living communally and starting over. Modern amenities have been wiped out, except there's always something that still works. The question remains, why don't they revert to the Stone Age, like in The Time Machine?

The logistics of Reign Of Fire are loopy. It's 2020 and there's nothing left of the world, because dragons have burnt it to ash. They live on the stuff, apparently.

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Where did these flying blow torches come from? Twenty years earlier, Quinn's mum was working as an engineer for a construction company, excavating a site in South London, when they breached a hole in an underground chasm, where a dragon slept. Once it woke, that was it. Crispy bacon.

Somehow, female dragons appeared from nowhere and, with the original male, made babies. It took two decades for these creatures to decimate the planet, which seems odd, since every dragon chick was a girl and all a sophisticated fighting force needed to do was blast big daddy from the face of the skies. But no one thought of that and so New York, Paris, Rome and Edinburgh were toasted.

Quinn (Christian Bale), meanwhile, is living in a ruined castle with a bunch of travelling folk. They have electricy and a room full of expensive church candles for those romantic moments and fire extinguishers and a radio and guns with bullets and petrol. Also, down the road in a quarry, they cultivate tomatoes. Outside in Northumberland? The weather's dismal and the light grey and the landscape reminds you of everything that's hellish about the country.

They think they are the last living people in Britain until one day Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) turns up with a convoy of tanks and a helicopter, piloted by Alex (Izabella Scorupco), a blonde model in a flying jacket. "There's only one thing worse than dragons," Quinn tells his pal Creedy (Gerard Butler). "Americans." Isn't that racist? Oh, well.

Van Zan looks like a professional wrestler with his bald head and tattooed pecs. He talks with an unlit cigar stub in his mouth. "We could do this easy, or we could do it real easy," he drawls. That translates as, "Be nice, or I'll whap your ass". Before the movie disintegrates completely - it makes Mad Max look like a classic - you can't help wondering how these Yanks fuel their war machines.

The dragons are great. If you're an effects buff, you will enjoy them. They are as big as houses and fly with a lazy grace. Reign Of Fire should have been their story. The humans don't come close.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2002
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Last men on earth fight the dragons that have decimated the planet, circa 2020.
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Director: Rob Bowman

Writer: Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka, Matt Greenberg

Starring: Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler, Alice Krige, Scott James Moutter

Year: 2002

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/Ireland

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If you like this, try:

Children Of Men
Eragon