Reign of Fire
(Original VCD)

Starring: Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler
MPAA Rating: PG

Movie: * * ˝ 
* *

In my original theatrical release review of Reign of Fire I said that this movie is probably better suited to the VCD format than actually watching it on the big screen. And – lo and behold! – here thanks to the kind folks at I have been sent the official VCDs!

To recap: Reign of Fire is set in a near future in which the Earth is practically overrun by nasty fire-breathing dragons. Yup, this is The Road Warrior meets Dragonheart alright – with the ending taken straight out of Jaws, except for the bit about the shark of course. Actually Reign of Fire isn’t as bad as some critics made it out to be. It is brisk entertainment once you put the brain on hold and pass along the pop corn. Make mine salted – yummy! And then there’s the sight of Matthew McConaughey (the wimpy theologian in Contact, would ya believe it!) in an over-the-top turn as a muscled macho mix between Tank Girl and General Patton. Forget about the flying lizards, now that’s something you don’t see everyday . . .

As I said, these are the official discs, compliments of Internet-retailer and not pirated goods at all. Serious. I really have a tough time convincing people, especially Americans for some reason, that the major studios actually bring out their movies in this format in Asian countries where the VCD format is extremely popular. (Them probably being cheaper than movie tickets have something to do with it I suspect.) Thus the disks are quite professional looking: the two disks come in a standard double disc jewel case adorned with poster cover art work.

There are no trailers and pressing “Play” on your DVD player will start the movie immediately. The movie itself is presented in full-screen mode.

Despite this being a movie set in an excessively gloomy part of Britain (i.e., anywhere), the colour separation is quite good. Scenes set in the damp and dark dirty castle inhabited by the Waterworld-like survivors have precious little of the artefacting caused by the MPEG compression used (even in DVDs). All-round, the movie looks surprisingly good on VCD. Sound is also crystal clear digital.

WORTH IT? Reign of Fire costs $9.97 at At the DVD will cost you $29.99 and it is $14.99 for the VHS tape. You do the maths.

RECOMMENDATION: It probably isn’t polite admitting to enjoying this movie, but it is quite watchable entertainment. At $9.97 you can do a whole lot worse – probably.


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