Reign of Fire

Posted on June 14, 2009. Filed under: Movies to miss, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |

I haven’t done a straight review in a while and caught this on late night TV so thought I’d blog it.

Reign of Fire is one of those films that confuses me, because it isn’t good, but it isn’t exactly bad either.  It was made purely because we’d reached a point where really cool CGI dragons were possible, and it shows.  The plot is incredibly thin, basically dragons-bad-man-scared, and there are a number of plot holes which bugged me throughout.  For example, if the dragons feed on ash, why do they always wait until people are outside to start crispy frying them? Especially when they’ve planted all those tasty ready-to-cook crops outside.  There were a number of times when the dragons seemed to be holding back simply to make the story work.  I reckon Christian Bale had managed to avoid several toastings from a somehow benevolent dragon which chose to wait for him to attack first, and I never understood why the big bad daddy dragon only decided to attack about 20 years after he was first released.

This is starting to sound more scathing than I intended, but there are some good points.  The performances by Bale and Gerard Butler are good, although Matthew McConaughey in a psycho-marine role is a bit more scary than I think he intended.  The special effects really are good, and the overall design of the film captures a kind of futuristic middle ages, but for a film that is essentially a CGI showcase I’m not sure the visuals are quite good enough to justify it.  Of course, I’m seeing it 7 years after its original release and the speed at which VFX move means what was state of the art then is now dated, but I’m still not sure I’m impressed.

Reign of Fire was one of those films I remember hearing about when it came out and I was intrigued, so I’m sad that it didn’t quite live up to even my low expectations.  As I said, it’s not a bad film, there was nothing in it that had me shouting at the screen or looking away in anguish (except Bale’s hideous haircut) but there’s just not much to it.  At only 101 minutes it’s quite short and no one has too much time to develop as a character, but I think the film would benefit from taking itself less seriously.  Rather than trying to convince its audience that dragons living underground lead to a post-nuclear apocalypse and focussing on how terrible everything is, director Rob Bowman could’ve eased off on the angst and allowed a little more fun into the movie.  This would probably lift the intensity of the performances, which at times felt too serious for a movie about dragons, especially in McConaughey’s case.

In the end, I’m going to have to reluctantly consign Reign of Fire to the Movies to Miss pile.  It’s not a major warning against it, I did sort of enjoy it, but there are just too many plot holes and mismatched emotions for the film to work.

Bad Acting Bad Dragon Bad Hair

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8 Responses to “Reign of Fire”

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yeah, its not the best but its not the worst either – i like the bit where they tell the kids the story of Star Wars

It’s an okay film, but was ultimately a disappointment. It had an amazing looking poster, I remember thinking Dragons against helicopter gunships, how cool will that be. Then the film came out and they skipped over what could have been an epic battle and went direct to the aftermath with one Helicopter. I think they spent the budget on CGI dragons and didn’t have any left over for helicopters!

Also liked the Star Wars part, although not as good as Hurley in Lost writing the script for Empire Strikes Back, ten years before it was made.

Ross- the star wars bit was the best part of the film.
Andy-thats what I mean, they spend too much time going “how terrible would it be if this happened” and not enough showing the dragon fights we all signed up for!
I haven’t seen Lost since Sky stole it. This makes me very sad.

I don’t have sky so have been relying on friends and family recoding it for me. It has gotten to an interesting place as they have explained a lot of things that have happened and started bringing threads of stories together. They are obviously building up to something bizarre and unexpected for the final series.

I did like this movie and I guess the intensity was what I liked about it. It caught me off guard. I waited until TV to watch it because I thought it looked terrible in theaters. Bales performance grounded some of the theatrics and Denton Von Zen was just badass, one of my fav characters ever. I kind of liked the hopeless, lost feeling of there only being a few people left to fight these big bads. I didn’t need an overexplanation of anything. Some movies drive me crazy with there backstory. This said, here are dragons and they killed most humans, now try and survive. I’m cool with that.

It wasn’t really that I wanted more explanation, and I agree that the general idea is a good one. I really wanted to like it but it jsut left me disappointed. I guess it never really got going, and I didn’t really care about any of teh characters (depsite being a Bale fan)
I’m usually anti over-expllanation too. And I don’t think there’s a lack of backstory in this film at all. It’s just a general lack of anything that interesting to be honest. Yeah dragons are cool, but they didn’t really do much, and neither did anyone else.

Saw it in theaters. Was awesome.
Bought it on DVD. Still awesome.
Got in HD now. Even better.

Real world take on dragons that works.

Your critic while old is lacking. I bet you thought dragonheart was awesome… Now that movie sucked.


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