Reign of Fire
Directed by Rob Bowman
Written by Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka, Matt Greenberg
Starring Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey


Reign of Fire

What were they thinking, over at the studio, when they put together this post-apocalypse drama? "Reign of Fire" gets all the little things right - the below-the-line elements - the sets, the lighting, the hazy aura of smoke and interminable grey cloud that sits over everything and everyone in the film, even the computer-generated dragons, with their tattered wings - and gets all the big things wrong. The script is beneath sophomoric, the acting is of the 'Me Tarzan - you the dragon' variety, the editing allows no one to put two sentences together without a cutaway to something else. If ever real people talked like the folks in this film, they would be thought of as seriously retarded.

After a preamble in London, in which young Quinn watches his mother incinerated by a fire-spewing dragon wakened from a multi-million-year sleep, we move forward to the year 2020, when the dragons have taken over the world and the few remaining pockets of humans cower underground, in this case an old English castle with plenty of dungeon space. They are led now by the adult Quinn (Christian Bale), and try to wait out the era of the dragons, in hopes that they will all die off.

But then along comes Matthew McConaughey as Van Zan, leading a motley crew of tanks and a helicopter, piloted by the beauteous Alex (Izabella Scorupco), though where they get the fuel for all these vehicles is a question not answered in the film. Perhaps the studio gave it to them at a discount. They have an idea. Every dragon seen so far is a female; where are the males? It turns out that there is only one male dragon, no doubt exhausted from all that fertilizing, and if they kill him the species will be exterminated.

Slowly the film lurches toward its denouement, when Van Zan, Quinn and Alex take the helicopter back to London, where they must find the male and, you know, do him in, doing it with two crossbows and an axe because for reasons of the plot none of the tanks can get there.

This is a truly bad movie, an embarrassment to the tradition that began with George Miller's brilliant "Mad Max," the film that launched Mel Gibson's career and set the standard for the genre of post-apocalyptic anarchy. There are a few - very few - moments when a whiff of believable dialogue or plot sneak in, under the radar so to speak, but overall the film is a hopeless failure.