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Reign of Fire Review

By Shawn McKenzie 07/11/2002

It is so fun to get a pleasant surprise.

That is the feeling I got after I saw Reign of Fire. I had little to no knowledge of this movie. All I really knew was that is had Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale…and some dragons. What I saw was an original, awesome movie!

The story is about the last survivors of an apocalypse. The difference here though is that the apocalypse is not the result of nuclear war, but dragons that have been lying dormant for millions of years. The main character, 12-year-old Quinn, witnesses his mom die as the result of the first dragon emerging from a London mine that she works in as a construction engineer. Twenty years later, an adult Quinn (Bale) leads a group of survivors in a fight just to exist in a world now dominated by dragons. One day a group of Americans, led by Van Zan (McConaughey), stop by their camp seeking temporary shelter. They claim to have the ability to actually be able to kill dragons, something that even former world leaders were not able to do with military weapons in the past. Aside from the fact that the Americans were flying the first airborne vehicles he had seen in over a decade, Quinn was highly skeptical of their dragon-slaying skills. When Van Zan’s team displays their abilities! , Quinn cautiously accepts the Americans. Van Zan then tells Quinn he has figured out the secret to wiping out the dragons altogether, but it involves a very risky trip back to London, the place where his mother was killed. The decision Quinn has to make is to risk his life for the mission, or stay and continue defending his group of survivors against the existing dragons.

The effects in Reign of Fire are amazing. I was on the edge of my seat during the taking out of the first dragon. I also know I am seeing a good special effects movie when there is a scene where I find myself saying, "Yeah!" during a battle with an enemy (which are the dragons in this case, of course.)

In addition, these dragons are actually scary! This movie made me realize that movies have romanticized or wussified dragons in the past. Whether it is in Pete’s Dragon, Dragonheart, or even Shrek, dragons have been goofy or wimpy, and always good guys. Come on, dragons are supposed to be scary! In Reign of Fire, they were. This movie did for dragons that Jurassic Park did for dinosaurs. They took a creature that a normal person would realize is dangerous if confronted in reality and made them menacing. You didn’t want to see the dragons triumph, you wanted to see them get blown away!

Finally, the look and performances of the two leads were excellent. McConaughey especially pulled off the tough heroic Van Zan character very well. He beefed up so well that he looked like a He-Man action figure! Bale was able to convincingly portray a man beaten down by twenty years of defending the lives of many people against the dragons and feeling the conflict over whether or not he should leave the group in order to possibly end the struggle.

I only had one problem with the movie. I know Reign of Fire was a fantasy, and when you watch a fantasy you need to suspend disbelief, but I was very curious about this…where did the Americans get their helicopter, tank, and motorcycle fuel? Did they stop occasionally to mine for it? Did they find it? That was a hard one to swallow.

If you are looking for a fast paced, cool dragon movie, go to see Reign of Fire. I was actually surprised by some of the comments I heard around me after the screening. They were actually disappointed! Maybe they only like their dragons to be wusses! Don’t be a wuss too…go see this movie! I think you will be pleasantly surprised yourself!


Get the soundtrack score composed by Edward Shearmur:

Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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