One of the biggest flops of the summer was Reign of Fire, a graphics-heavy, Post-Apocalyptic, killer dragon action movie. Though it opened to $15 million, it faded quickly into the ashes. Yes, the marketing campaign was pretty disappointing, but the movie can't blame everything on its advertisements.
Reign of Fire is about a small colony of people in 2020 England, after the spreading species of dragons and nuclear weapons have ravaged the world. The outcome looks bleak, until a group of American soldiers-turned-dragon slayers show up with the mission to kill the sole male dragon, which could essentially wipe out the entire race. Of course, what are a few guns compared to mammoth creatures that can spit fire?
The plot is pretty basic, but for this kind of movie it is okay. The idea is turn around and fight the damned dragons to save your life. I would have preferred something more of an adventure story; perhaps about a group of humans who go on a journey to the dragon's lair to kill it, but set in post-modern, nuke-ravaged times. It would have been sort of neat to see something like that. Instead, the plot is much simpler, and it bogs down the film at times.
Essentially, Reign of Fire is an action movie, but it's main problem is that it really lacks the action to keep it exciting. Since most of the plot is centered in one location, the action never really varies from scene to scene. Reign of Fire shows potential in one scene where a couple skydivers attempt to trap a dragon, but it quickly loses its believability when they end up free-falling for minutes, even though they just jumped out of a helicopter that was not that high off the ground. Furthermore, there are long sequences that are a little too dramatic for the likes of a mindless summer movie.
The acting is tolerable, but definitely not excellent. Though neither star is very bankable (another reason why this movie flopped, most likely), they are both considered pretty good by most standards. Christian Bale won rave reviews for his performance in American Psycho, and he shows great future potential. Then there is Matthew McConaughey, who many considered at one point to be the next great actor; since A Time to Kill, he has made countless flops and poor choices. Reign of Fire isn't going to help his career. Though Bale's beard definitely disappointed female fans, McConaughey's scruffy thing in this movie is downright miserable to look at. His beard is really quite similar to his career.
Reign of Fire has its moments and isn't all that terrible, but it isn't all that great, either.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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