" Oh, the humanity of it all… "
Title: Reign of Fire by Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Format: Action DVD
Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult
The Hype: For decades geeks have speculated what would happen if dragons invaded modern life. Reign of Fire attempts to answer that question.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Acting: On behalf
of D&D geeks all over the world I will say, in an attempt to try and start this
review off right, this premise kicks ass. In the not so distant future an English
tunneling operation uncovers a hibernating dragon deep under ground and unleashes
not only it but it's hundreds of soon to be hatchlings upon the world. The dragons,
being essentially chaotic in action and breeding ridiculously quickly spread
like a virus and eventually conquer the world. Cool.
Unfortunately, while the concept is killer, the execution leaves quite a bit to be desired. The story focuses on Quinn (Christian Bale), a mothering survivor who is keeping a desperate and isolated commune for stragglers and children in the English mountainside, and his plight to get through a post apocalyptic daily life under the perpetual wrath of the dragons. Into his life comes Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey), a rough and tumble psycho U.S. G.I. who has a plan to rid the world of the menace. You see it turns out that there's actually only 1 male dragon in the whole world and so, if you take him out, the entire species will falter and die- so Van Zan has come to England with a rag tag group of soldiers and rediculously little weaponry to take him out. Quinn, as the stoic victim, of course argues that it can't be done but eventually is thrust, in classic b-movie fashion, into the role of hero.
But just in case that scenario isn't bad enough for you, let me crush your hope by explaining that pretty much the whole movie deals with these two main character's social interactions and puts the entire dragon concept on a back burner to dealing with these two's rather polar personality types. And while both McConaghey and Bale try their hardest, there just isn't enough there to make the characters interesting or empathetic and you'll spend the whole time gnashing your teeth wondering when the hell they're actually going to fight some dragons. This means what should have been a rockin' monster flick devolves into yet another study on the human condition. When oppressed do we fight or curl up and just try to survive? Oh, the humanity of it all… 2 out of 5
Action: Going in I was really excited to see some modern fantasy battles of man vs. beast. Instead what you get is some very silly abstracts based on some absolute moron's idea of how a modern battle against a giant lizard should be fought. Don't get me wrong, they try really hard to be dramatic and the characters get appropriately screwed, but this movie should be held up as a poster child for what happens when you don't have a military advisor on your crew…since, evidently, we learned nothing from Independence Day. The weapons, actions, and strategies are absolutely ridiculous and will leave anyone with half a brain for the tactical laughing out loud. But, on the plus side, at least we get to see man fight dragon. 3 out of 5
Visuals and Directing: There's a big debate in Hollywood about how much a good director can save a bad script, and I'm please to note that the answer is quite a bit. Between the dark and gritty style the film's shot in, the sincere effort put forth by the actors, and the damned cool cgi you'll actually lean towards enjoying your 90 minutes with Reign. Of course, as you might expect, the highlight is the dragons who look great and are very reminiscent of a certain dragon slaying movie from the 80's- but that's not something to be complained about. I have to dock a point, however, for the heinous continuity errors in the size and portrayal of the dragons. How they looked back on this film and didn't realize their dragon's yo-yo bigger and smaller more than Oprah is beyond me. 4 out of 5
DVD Extras: Of course the biggest thing you want with a movie like this is FX and production features, and Reign pleasantly delivers 2 of them. The first on the dragons themselves and the other on the pyrotechnics. Both of them are good and fun to watch but unfortunately don't do enough to give the DVD any real longevity. I would have really liked to see a couple more features for the money. 3.5 out of 5
Value vs. Price: In short, fair to midland. A little more pricey than the average DVD ($23), Reign gives you enough features that you don't feel ripped off but certainly isn't cheap enough that you'll feel you're getting a deal. 3 out of 5
|Though this review may be a bit harsh on the fine points, I will say in the end I enjoyed Reign of Fire on a visceral, geek level…It just wasn't nearly what it should/could have been. My only hope is that this flick doesn't sully Hollywood on making more, and hopefully more involved, geek flicks in the future.|
The Good: Good cgi, fun concept, lots of people getting burned and eaten.
The Bad: Lousy script, insulting action, and an exchanging of what we want to see (man fighting dragon) with a social diatribe we definitely could have done without.
The Overall Ugly: Any good fantasy geeks owes themselves a watch, but I'd make sure you like it before you buy it.
What it's Worth: Rental