Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the magic you feel in the air is completely intentional. Things are different. This is because I am going to embark on my first (and thus far only) requested review. So, let’s go down, down, down into “Reign of Fire”. (I know it’s “Ring of Fire” you pedants…)
In the mystical, futuristic year of 2008 (!), a huge, hibernating dragon is found during London Underground construction. Dragon gets understandably pissed off and the only survivor is a young boy called Quinn, who loses his mother in the tragedy. Flash forward years later and we catch up with a ripped, bearded Quinn (Christian Bale) who is in charge of one of the only surviving human colonies left, due to the fact that most of the human race have been wiped out by the dragons. As the plot progresses we are introduced to bald, bearded Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) and non bald, non bearded helicopter pilot Alex (Izabella Scorupco). I like some the ideas on display here, but they’re so badly done someone needs to be smacked upside the head with the shovel of good filmmaking. Christian Bale is pretty bland through most of the film, believing that a raspy voice and glottal stops can suffice in place of actual acting. Izabella Scorupco seems lost throughout, however when you cast a Polish/Swedish actress in an shitty American film set in Britain, it’s inevitable. Matthew McConaughey seems to be the only one having some fun, riding tanks with the gun phallically between his legs and so on. However, this slight injection of life is soon quashed when Van Zan decides to get all moral on us.
Before I go on any further, tear your eyes away from my poorly Photoshopped Stallone impersonation and look at the poster. Done? Good. None of that happens in the film. There is no torching of Big Ben, no all-out war between Apache helicopters and a metric fuckton of dragons, no nothing. All of that interesting stuff is skipped over in the credits, with newspaper articles and photographs showing the carnage. Why the fuck is this film not about the destruction of London and other famous cities? Surely that would have made a more interesting film? I understand that budgetry concerns could have been an issue, but if that’s the case, why bother making the film at all? I don’t want a film about some dumb future where everyone is dirty and can’t act. I want what is promised on the poster!
Right, so since this is a film about dragons, the dragons must be able to stand up on their own and be a tangible threat, right? Well, yes and no. The dragon designs are really good, with some clear thought going in to creating the fire-breathing beasts. The CGI is surprisingly good too, still holding up seven years later. Trouble is, the film can’t wait to show you them, with a mere 10 minutes going by before you see one. Listen film, I want to be teased. I want to be desperate to see the creatures before you grant me my wish. “Jurassic Park” is a masterclass in this. It’s got to be a good 40 minutes or so before you see a fully fledged dinosaur and the film is all the better for it. To put it bluntly (not to mention vulgarly), the film blows its load way too soon.
“Reign of Fire” is simply a bad film, or just a bad, simple film depending on your viewpoint. I’m not opposed to brainless carnagefests, but when they’re this poorly acted and written, they’re not worth my time.