STARRING: Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler

2002, 102 Minutes, Directed by: Rob Bowman

In the near future whilst building a new tunnel for the London Underground, dragons breathing "natural napalm" (that's right, yes) are unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. A few years later most of humanity is wiped out - more by poorly thought-out ways to kill off the dragons (such as using nukes!) than the flying lizards themselves. That's what you get for expanding your public transport system I suppose (a message I am sure that has the approval of major car manufacturers) . . .

Thus humanity is relegated to a post-apocalyptic existence taken straight out of The Road Warrior and Waterworld. Yup, this is Mad Max meets Dragonheart as many critics have pointed out. One such ragtag group of British extras, er, survivors is approached by gung ho Americans with a scheme: apparently (PLOT SPOILER ALERT) all of the dragons are female except for one male. That'd be the one with the permanent rings under the eyes then! Kill the single male and the whole specie dies out. How can there be thousands of female dragons all over the planet with only one single male to, erm, propagate the specie? The movie never says. (END SPOILER ALERT!)

As you might have gathered from the above plot spoiler, Reign of Fire (directed by X-Files regular Rob Bowman) resembles Independence Day and the schoolyard bully who used to beat the crap out of you during breaks: it is big, loud, dumb and never explains itself. It is the sort of movie where it is best to just go with the flow and not ask any questions like: just where do the Yank convoy stash all the fuel to keep that helicopter in the air the whole time? And: where exactly did they find the fuel? And so on.

The point is that once you accept a future Earth overrun by mythical overgrown fire-breathing flying lizards, then the rest ought to come naturally. Reign of Fire is passable watching though. As my companion remarked, "That was better than I expected." True, the effects and production designs (especially of a burnt-out London at the end) are good considering obvious budget constraints.

Other production values are OK too: music, editing and the like. The actors do their best with laughable macho dialogue such as "we can do this easy, or we can do this real easy." It took me a while to recognize Matthew McConaughey (Jodie Foster's love interest in Contact) who looks like a muscle-bound comic book crossover between Vin Diesel, General Patton and Tank Girl.

Try not to bring an unhealthy sense of Mystery Science Theater 3000 irony with you when you pop this one into your DVD player!



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