"If You Can’t Stand the Heat . . ."
In REIGN OF FIRE, man is the weaker species and is becoming extinct under the fiery rule of an awakened population of nasty, fire-breathing dragons. Despite some strong profanities, a harsh humanist worldview and plenty of man versus dragon violence, this movie is a relatively harmless, wild, entertaining adventure story.
Quinn is a normal 12-year-old English schoolboy. As is his custom after school, he visits his mother at work in the new subway construction tunnel under the streets of London. As he explores the tunnel, a worker comments on an expected “void” he just encountered. The hole is still small, so he dares the young boy to go through and look around. The void has a cave-like appearance with smooth columns and a strange textured wall along which the boy rubs his hand. Suddenly fiery liquid streams down, and a deep, unearthly breathing blasts forth, causing the boy to flee for his life. “There’s something down there!” he screams. Apparently, the young lad has awaked a long hibernating creature, the stuff of nightmares . . . a fire-breathing dragon!
Soon the world is covered with fire as the dragon population explodes to millions and its flaming rampages turn cities to ashes, and humans to food. There is only one hope for mankind . . . atomic weapons.
Twenty years later, the earth is a post-apocalyptic disaster. The atomic bombs failed to work. Quinn has survived to adulthood and is shepherding a group of half-starved people hiding out in an ancient castle, made dragon-proof. Their life is one of constant fear and vigilance, and no one knows how they’ll survive. Soon a dangerous looking stranger with a small army appears. Are they raiders, or friends?
The stranger, named Van Zan, is an American and calls himself a “Dragon Slayer.” After he and his team do the impossible and kill a dragon, he says he knows the secret to their total destruction, and it lies in London.
REIGN OF FIRE is a combination of a ROAD WARRIOR movie, ALIENS and a KING ARTHUR movie. Director Bowman makes good use of the UK locations and weather to create a hopeless, forsaken feel. The battered castle with its Crusader-esque chapel, walls and rooms reminds viewers of dragon slaying knights.
REIGN OF FIRE is a classic monster movie where the audience is made to feel that the heroes may be roasted alive or eaten at any moment. Humans are considered the weaker species, and all hope of ever winning has been lost. Quinn (Christian Bale) is the White Knight who protects and serves his castle and keep. Matthew McConaughey is the Rogue Knight who does not play by the rules, but delivers results anyway. At one point in the movie, Quinn and his friend do a funny re-creation for the children in the castle of the famous confrontation between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in the second STAR WARS movie. The fascinated expressions of the children watching this little play are very cute and clearly demonstrate the power of storytelling to delight and influence children.
The dragons are not personified in REIGN OF FIRE, nor are they supernatural, nor do they speak. They are “evolutionary” wonders that fly and shoot two fluids out of their mouths that combine and ignite to form a type of napalm. (The Bombardier beetle does the same from his backside, creating a micro explosion!)
Despite several strong profanities, the movie has no sex or salacious nudity, and the director does a good job of holding the gore to a minimum, while keeping the suspense to a maximum. The main flaws for committed Christians and conservative audiences are an early scene where a crazed old man holding a Bible talks about the end of the world. In an apparent warm moment before bed, the children in the castle kneel, put their hands together and pray something like, “When we are awake we keep two eyes on the sky. When we sleep we keep one eye on the sky. When they come, we run and hide and never look back. Amen.” Along with showing a total lack of trust in God are several references to evolution that also taint the movie.
Nevertheless, as a genre film, REIGN OF FIRE is relatively mild. It delivers unusual adventure. The photography, acting and special effects are also top-rate, and the music augments the mood, as it should. If you like movies like THE ROAD WARRIOR, DRAGON HEART, WATER WORLD, THE POSTMAN, PREDATOR, ALIENS, ROBIN HOOD, INDEPENDENCE DAY, and GODZILLA, REIGN OF FIRE may be right up your alley! Many parents will want to keep the children at home, however.
(H, Ev, B, LL, VV, N, A, D, M) Humanist worldview where man’s reason and courage is the final answer, with evolutionary elements including highly evolved dragon causes hopelessness for humankind and, when man says that his optimism is “a recent development,” woman says, “Here’s to evolution,” plus some talk about being a “white knight” and talk about helping and protecting the community, especially children; 11 mostly mild exclamatory obscenities, four strong exclamatory profanities and one mild profanity; intense, strong story-driven combat with lots of man vs. dragon violence, fire-breathing dragons roast and eat humans, explosions; no sex; upper male nudity; several scenes of drinking homemade liquor; smoking; and, some insults, disobeying orders, arrogance rebuked, confrontations between adults, and endangering the survival of a community.
At the beginning of REIGN OF FIRE, 12-year-old Quinn awakens a nasty, fire-breathing dragon hibernating underground in London. Soon, the dragon population explodes to millions, and their flaming rampage turns cities to ashes and humans to food. Twenty years later, the earth is a post-apocalyptic disaster. Quinn has survived to adulthood and shepherds a group of half-starved people hiding out in an ancient castle. Their life is one of constant fear and vigilance. No one knows how they’ll survive. Soon a dangerous looking “dragon slayer” with a small army appears. Should Quinn trust his crazy schemes?
REIGN OF FIRE is a combination of a ROAD WARRIOR movie, ALIENS and a King Arthur movie. It’s a classic monster movie where the audience feels that at any moment the heroes may be roasted alive or eaten at any moment. Despite several strong profanities, the movie has no sex or nudity, and the director does a good job of holding the gore to a minimum, while keeping the suspense to a maximum. The movie lacks a God-centered attitude, however, so it deserves a caution for older children. Nevertheless, REIGN OF FIRE is an entertaining adventure story