MOVIE: Reign of Fire (2002)

You guys are never gonna believe this, but guess what! I loved this movie! Now wait, don’t get me wrong — there are about 86,000 things about this flick that I found totally and completely stupid. However, unlike with other dumb movies I’ve seen recently (ahem, Equilibrium, ahem), the really stupid parts of this one weren’t intrusive enough to distract me out of enjoying myself. Lovely!

The movie opens in London with a little boy named Quinn hanging out with his mom who works in a mine of some sort. He’s down there playing in the tunnels one day when he stumbles across, and I guess wakes up?, an enormous creature. At first, he has no idea what it is, but a few moments later, it emerges from the tunnel, flapping its wings and breathing fire, and to anybody who’s ever read a fairy tale, it’s immediately clear we’ve got a dragon on the loose. An hour later, everyone in the mine but Quinn is dead, including his mother, and man, do things go downhill quickly from there.

The next thing the human race knows, there are hundreds, thousands of dragons flying around the world turning everything they encounter into ash. At first, the humans try to kill them, but it soon becomes clear their conventional weapons are no good. At a loss for anything else to do, a few countries launch nuclear attacks. But, of course, as anybody with half a brain could’ve predicted (not that the government ever listens to anybody with half a brain, or a whole brain, for that matter), instead of wiping out the dragons, they pretty much finish off the rest of the planet.

Cut to about 15 or 20 years later, and now Quinn (Christian Bale) is all grown up and living in a stone castle (good idea — harder to burn your house if it’s made out of rocks) with a group of fellow survivors. He and his best friend Creedy (the utterly gorgeous Gerard Butler) spend their days struggling to keep their people clothed, warm, and fed, and their evenings reenacting scenes from classic movies for the entertainment of the group’s two dozen or so children (loved the Star Wars scene, by the way!).

For the most part, the group is muddling through. But they’re about to run out of food, and options, and they remain under constant attack by a group of local dragons that keep them from growing many crops or wandering too far from home.

However, lucky for the doomed Brits, they’re in a movie that’s clearly been modeled on World War II flicks, and soon the Americans are storming in with a group of tanks, a helicopter, a bunch of weapons, and a cigar-butt-chompin’, Southern-drawlin’ leader named Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey, totally having a blast with this role). Van Zan is determined to do more than just survive and he needs Quinn’s men to help him do it. At first, Quinn refuses to let any of his people risk their lives for what he thinks is a preposterous idea (killing the Germans — oops, I mean “dragons” — instead of just trying to stay away from them). But the more he sees Van Zan do, the more he starts to believe there might be a way out of this mess after all.

Now, there are a TON of things about this movie that made no sense whatsoever, and one of the primary ones was where in the hell they were getting all their fuel. The helicopter flies around constantly, not to mention the trucks, tanks, and motorcycles that are zooming around all the time, and yet fuel is never even mentioned, despite the fact it’s now almost 20 years after the apocalypse, and the dragons have set the entire planet on fire. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure fire is, like, really bad for fuel. And if the whole world’s been burned, where are they getting all this gasoline? They clearly aren’t storing it in huge tanks next to their castle, where the dragons are going to ignite and then blow it up. But there’s not exactly a functional Shell station down the street either.

Then there’s Van Zan’s plan to wipe the dragons out — he’s figured out that all the dragons they see are women, and that there’s only ONE male dragon, living in London, fertilizing all the eggs by himself. (Incidentally, Big Daddy Dragon is the same one Quinn awoke as a boy, the same one that killed his mother — so we know right away where that part of the story is headed, right?) Anyway, what this means is that if they can kill the Big Kahuna, they can wipe out the entire dragon race.

But, wait — there’s ONE MALE DRAGON for the whole Earth’s worth of dragons? Seriously? There were about 300 dragons alone in just one region of London — you’re telling me ONE MALE DRAGON is responsible for hundreds of thousands of dragons around the world?

No sir, I don’t believe it.

Not only that, but the way this storyline actually plays out at the very end also made no sense at all — I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil anything for anybody, though. For those of you who have seen the movie, I’m referring to the final final scene, set three months after the denouement. The scene in which there also needed to be kissing and wasn’t, by the way. Just another minor bone I wanted to pick. Not even a peck on the cheek to entertain the ladies in the audience? I was bitter.

Oh, and one more thing I just have to mention because it keeps showing up everywhere lately (including last week’s episode of Lost) — the word is CAVALRY, people, not CALVARY. Look it up.

The funny thing about this movie for me, though, was that even though there were all these things (and more!) that made no sense — things no less dumb than, say, the stuff that made me crazy in Equilibrium — I still enjoyed the beheysoos out of this movie. Sometimes movies that are full of cheesy, lame stuff or plot points that are illogical are really hard for me to enjoy. I get annoyed and I can’t relax into the story because I’m so distracted by the flaws. But other times, the problems just don’t seem to get in my way, and that was really the case with Reign of Fire.

In short, it’s kinda silly, but it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. And, since I know you are going to ask, I’ll just come out and tell you that I also thoroughly enjoyed Bale in this flick, and realized halfway through that the difference was all about his accent. I think the reason he makes me nuts in all his other movies is that American accent he so often does — it makes him hold his mouth funny and both sound and LOOK funny, as though he’s trying to force the words out through a throat full of marbles.

But here, he’s speaking in his natural voice, and though his mouth was also partially covered by facial hair, I just never found anything about him distracting at all (well, you know, except for his naked torso — that was kind of distracting, I will confess. Mrrrrrowl!).

What’s more, I finally started to understand why it is you guys all love him so much. I was thoroughly charmed by Bale in this movie, and though I’m still nowhere close to wanting to make him a Boyfriend of the Week, I do suddenly find myself giving the idea a little more consideration. If you guys have any other favorite Bale movies in which he uses his natural accent instead of the American one, post them in comments and I’ll be sure to check them out soon.

All in all, major thumbs up for me on this one, and I thank you guys for finally talking me into giving it a try, because I truly had a great time chillin’ out with the fire-breathing beasts this weekend. Yahoo!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Fantasy/War
Cast: Christian Bale, Gerard Butler, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco, Scott Moutter

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11 Responses to “MOVIE: Reign of Fire (2002)”

  1. jo Says:

    Told ya!! Would we steer you wrong?

  2. Liz Says:

    OMG! I KNEW we must have been separated at birth (no matter that our ages are different)! That “cavalry/calvary” thing is my NUMBER ONE pet peeve! And it comes up all the time in Civil War reenacting, which, as you know, I’m involved with. It bothers me even more than “nucular” vs. “nuclear!” And, let me tell you, that one bothers me too!

    Oh yeah – “Reign of Fire” was pretty enjoyable. The part I remember the best was when they talked about saying their prayers before going to sleep, and it became clear that prayers were made up of listing how to safeguard oneself against the dragons, and what to do if you saw one. All those silly men were okay, but the dragons RULED!

  3. Trip Says:

    MEG – I am shocked. The answer to the fuel question is blindingly obvious.

    In the scorched hellscape that is Dragon-occupied England, the only commodity more readily available than the ham produced by McConaughey’s performance…would be dragon SALIVA, the ultimate biofuel!

    Gotta hand it to the studio, you just have to imagine the planning meeting that year…”you know, it’s been a while since we had a dragon movie, huh? These won’t, you know, live by codes of honor or sound like Sean Connery or any of that crap! They’ll be totally bad ass and fly around and menace everything and burn people to ash…and we’ll have choppers and skydiving and guns…the feel-good movie of the summer! BOO YAH!”

  4. Lorraine Says:

    Yippee!!!! This is now the second movie that I’ve brought up in comments that Meg has tried and liked. I think that I should stop while I’m ahead 😉

    I love dragons and this is my favorite dragon movie. I love the mixture of darkness and fun. The shot of the dragon on top of the castle is so cool. Plus, Bale and Butler are scruffy and tough yet sensitive. I love their natural accents even if I don’t always understand what they are saying.

  5. Liz Says:

    TRIP! LOL, LOL and also LMFAO (guess where I got that one!)! I wonder if the producers knew they were creating the first ecology-friendly dragon movie. The working title should have been: “Going Green with Dragons!”

    BTW, I’m so glad you haven’t gone away. I was afraid you were cross when a few of us voiced our – ahem – disappointment – with the “Matrix” trilogy. Maybe it’s a guy thing. Anyway, it’s fun to agree, but it’s also fun to disagree.

  6. megwood Says:

    Oh, I can SO picture the production team behind this movie using the word “BOO-YAH.” It’s pretty clear they were all having a LOT of fun with this one, which was one of the other reasons I liked it so much.


  7. megwood Says:

    p.s. Liz! I’m so glad I’m not the only one driven crazy by “calvary”!

  8. jo Says:

    I think “dragon spit” just became my new expletive.

  9. Trip Says:

    Liz – come on now, I’d have to have some awfully thin skin to let some anti-Matrix comments drive me away. My male chromosomes demand cinematic satisfaction from time to time, though, and those just happen to scratch that itch nicely. I like those movies on a totally different level than say, something artsy and Oscar-worthy like Raise the Red Lantern or There Will Be Blood.

  10. Eva Says:

    I watched this movie a while back, and I gotta confess, I thought it was kinda boring – I needed it to either be sillier (as in sarcastic, knows-it’s-silly) or more reasonable (as in fixing that ridiculous “there’s only one boy dragon on the planet!” issue). But the boys were purty… mmm, Gerard Butler…

    I still don’t really get the Bale thing, but if Meg decides she wants him, at least that’s one Boyfriend I won’t have to fight her over. She can really scratch, that Meg…

  11. imnotjesus Says:

    i ran across this post on my wordpress dashboard. i know one of the guys that wrote the script for this movie, and we poke fun about it all the time. glad you enjoyed it (even though the movie doesn’t really resemble the original script at all. they never do). great review!

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