Reign of Fire
2 out of 5 stars
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Dragons attack Britain! This film has such a brilliant premise that you can hardly help but enjoy it, even if the filmmakers squander everything with a shockingly bad script. In present-day London, construction on a new Tube line is interrupted by the discovery of a massive (and very grouchy) dragon hibernating underground. Flash forward 20 years to a world desolated by the airbourne, fire-breathing beasts, with a handful of survivors hiding in a remote Northumberland (?) castle led by the tenacious Quinn (Bale). Then the Americans arrive, led by the charismatic and tattooed Van Zan (McConaughey, channeling Vin Diesel) and together they take on the huge creatures.

With some of the best special effects in recent memory, this film has the ability to make us gasp for breath every time the dragons appear on screen. They don't look like CGI trickery; they look very real! And this makes the film quite scary. Until someone speaks. The dialog is so bad that it couldn't have been worse if the characters just grunted at each other Quest for Fire style. It's all testosterone-fuelled nonsense, a string of meaningless slogans and catch phrases that make us roll our eyes in exasperation. And the story isn't much better, filled with cliched characters and situations that even the decent cast can't overcome. And it all hinges on a ludicrous, flatly unbelievable plan to wipe dragons from the face of the planet. Then there's the derivative Mad Max scorched-earth production design, and editing that chops the narrative to bits without worrying about the missing plot points. It's a real mess of a film, like the filmmakers couldn't be bothered with a script or proper post-production as long as the effects looked good. That they do! And the rest of the film is at least good for a laugh. But what a waste.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 11.Jul.02

dir Rob Bowman
scr Matt Greenberg, Terry Hayes
with Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler, Scott Moutter, Alexander Siddig, Maree Duffy, Duncan Keegan, Benny Nieves, Rory Keenan, Randall Carlton, Alice Krige
release US 12.Jul.02; UK 23.Aug.02
02/UK 1h42

Testosterone-o-rama. Bale and McConaughey engage in a little 'who's the bigger man' competition before taking on the dragon...

bale mcconaughey butler scorupco
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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall