"Reign of Fire"
Directed by Rob Bowman.
Written by Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka and Matt Greenberg.
Starring Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 7/17/02
The guy that runs the Sunday night film
group I hang out with here in San Francisco decided that “Reign of
Fire” would be our choice this past weekend; why? He loves
fire-breathing dragon movies!
So, even though it looks like a dog in the
trailers, we decided to check it out. Should I have known from the
trailers in front of “Reign of Fire” that I was in trouble? Two
words: yes. First, it was “Swimfan”, which might now lead in “most
plot points given away in the preview”, taking the place of former
leader “Enough” for 2002. Wow, that looks bad. Then, it was “Fear
Dot Com”, starring Stephen Dorff, who starred in “Blade” but also
appeared in “SFW (So Fucking What)”, one of the worst films ever
made. You will note that both of these films are being released in
September, which once again confirms my theory that the worst films
of the year are released in September. Wow! Then, it was
Knights”, the Jackie Chan/Owen Wilson follow-up to
More and more, I ask myself: how is Owen Wilson, co-writer of the
Wes Anderson series of films (“Bottle Rocket”, “Rushmore”,
Royal Tenenbaums”), getting so many action roles?
But anyway, back to “Reign of Fire.” Damn,
this movie blows. It is not a total atrocity, thanks to some hammy
performances by the leads and the effects work, but it is still
pretty bad. It’s 2020, and the apocalypse has hit the earth in the
form of about a million female dragons that are ravaging the
planet. The spawn of a male dragon that was awakened by some silly
miners in London in 2002, these dragons have eradicated almost all
of Earth’s population. A band of survivors in England led by Quinn
“American Psycho”) has been trying to survive on
wits and the ability to hide out underground, but one day, a group
of Americans led by a crazed commanding officer named Van Zan
(Matthew McConaughey) shows up to take shelter at Quinn’s hideout.
The reason? Van Zan’s a dragon slayer, and over the course of a few
run-ins with these dragons his forces have been depleted. He needs
Quinn and his band to help the fight in order to take out the male
dragon and end this bullshit.The plot is actually worse than that,
because the script by rookie writers Gregg Chabot and Kevin Peterka
doesn’t really take time to explain things like...
...how the Americans crossed the
Atlantic to get to London with, oh, a MILLION FUCKING DRAGONS
flying through the air...
Americans seem to be out of fuel but able to support ten tanks
and a helicopter...
...how the male dragon is able to pick
out Quinn’s hideout when there are a thousand other hideouts
that need to be eradicated; this plot point brings on that smell
emanating from “Jaws 4” when the shark seems to be able to
follow one family halfway around the world...
...why the film’s tagline is “Fight Fire
with Fire”, when the good guys never once use fire (or for that
matter, passion) to fight the dragons.
There are plenty of other atrocities, like
the sheer lack of action in this action-adventure film, or the
acting of third lead Izabella Scorupco (the good Bond girl from “Goldeneye”;
man, talk about going from riches to rags), who is tough one minute,
and pitifully afraid the next. Thankfully, Bale is up to the task,
and McConaughey shines as the over-the-top CO. In fact, McConaughey—who
must have known this film was a dog from the second he read the
script—does good work as an intimidating tough guy in “Reign of
Fire.” With that bald dome and egregious goatee, he looks different
than he does as that wuss from
“The Wedding Planner”, and both he
and Bale look like they worked out for a couple months before
showing up on set because they are looking pretty cut here. But, McConaughey especially looks like he is having some fun with the
part, which makes a big difference in a bad film.
And, the special effects are pretty cool.
Any of the film’s scenes with dragons breathing fire are cool, and
director Rob Bowman (“The X-Files” feature film) stages at least
those scenes well enough. But otherwise, “Reign of Fire” can wait
until video, or worse, a long run on TNT when they buy the rights to
it in a year or two.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard