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REIGN OF FIRE

SYNOPSIS:†
When a 12 year old boy accidentally awakens a dormant fire-breathing dragon in the bowels of London while visiting his motherís work place, all hell breaks loose. Literally. Within 20 years, the entire planet is a scorched and charred disaster area, the dragons breeding and destroying just about all signs of human civilisation. Small enclaves survive. One such enclave in Englandís devestated Northumberland is led by Quinn (Christian Slater) the now grown up 12 year old who started it all. Barely surviving and guarding their bleak fortress, the small community is reluctant to welcome a small band of US militiamen, led by Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey). Van Zan claims to know a way to kill the fiery dragons and wants shelter in return for his expertise. The fate of the world Ė whatís left of it Ė depends on it.


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Far too dark and menacing for kids, this fire-dragons story is far too silly for adults. With its M rating, maybe itís intended audience is exactly 15 year old boys. Reign Of Fire has a derivative feel, despite its splendid production design. Perhaps thatís because post apocalyptic movies are still paying homage to Mad Max. The story pits humans against deadly dragons that power-spit natural napalm like flame throwers. Itís a boyís own adventure in a gloomy, nihilistic world, and for the life of me I canít see a metaphor that could get me engaged with the filmís story or characters. Not that the cast are at fault: Bale is solid and suitably body contoured as the semi-heroic leader of a small (but fractious) group of people who barely survive in the ashes of civilisation. An unrecognisable McConaughey is surprisingly effective as the bald headed, tough talking, Van Zan the action man. The problem is that the actors have to shout to be heard above the din of the sound FX and music track, mixed together into a cacophony. It probably doesnít matter, unfortunately, whether we hear the dialogue or not. And the filmís strong visual and musical language is ruined by cliches (like a convenient draft flipping pages of a Time magazine like a trained finger to show us the relevant pages) and internal inconsistencies (like where do they get the petrol for tanks & choppers; where does the electricity come from?)

Review by Louise Keller:
While it may not totally succeed in its portrayal of Mad Max-type protagonists and Water World-like dour production design, Reign of Fire is a mix of futuristic thriller and creature feature with spectacular effects and enough entertainment value for the popcorn set. Central to the plot and straight from the pages of myths and fables is a splendid fire-breathing dragon and our anticipation, cleverly kept at bay in the first half with only small glimpses, pays off admirably when our fantasies are satisfied later in the film. Much effort has been made to present a credible tale, and despite the fact that at times the characters are not particularly appealing, Christian Bale has enough charisma and intensity to keep our attention, while Matthew McConaughey complete with shaved head and piercing eyes, looks as though he is having a blast with his character. Both actors display plenty of bulging muscle, but itís the dragon that steals the show with plenty of showiness and pizzazz with its dazzling displays. The marriage of medieval with post-apocalyptic future is an interesting one, and the most enjoyable aspects of the film lie in its creature feature aspirations. Attempts at humour are minimal, and fly by unnoticed with throwaways like ĎThereís only one thing worse than a dragon Ė Americansí not quite hitting the mark. Size and scale are impressive and the stunts are quite extraordinary. Izabella Scorupco (Golden Eye, Vertical Limit) is an attractive distraction, albeit a token one (how come she looks so good when everyone else looks so bad?), but generally performances are excellent while the pounding soundtrack uses melodrama as its calling card. More dragons, less serious production design would have been welcome, and I suppose we are now resigned to the possibility of a new video game by the same name.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

REIGN OF FIRE (M)
(US)

CAST: Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco, Gerry Butler

PRODUCER: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Richard D. Zanuck, Lili Fini Zanuck

DIRECTOR: Rob Bowman

SCRIPT: Gregg Chabot & Kevin Peterka, Matt Greenberg

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adrian Biddle BSC

EDITOR: Thom Noble

MUSIC: Edward Shearmur

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Wolf Kroeger

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 3, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE

VIDEO RELEASE: January 8, 2003







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