Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Reign of Fire

directed by Rob Bowman

Reign Of Fire poster  
We first meet Quinn as a young boy visiting his mother, an engineer, on-site. She is working with a team of engineers drilling underneath London, for whatever reason. They come across a blockage, and send the boy in to see what's causing it. If health and safety people everywhere are going into spasms about this, there's more. The blockage turns out to be a dragon, which proceeds to roast all the engineers, including Quinn's mother.

The dragons spawn rapidly, burning and devouring everything in their path. In spite of nuclear weapons and modern armies, mankind is powerless to stop them. By 2020 only pockets of survivors remain, as all the major cities are the first to be destroyed. We are told all of this second hand through news clips and narration, which is perhaps the film's chief failing.

Cut to the future, and Quinn, now played by Christian Bale, is the head of a community hiding out in a castle in Northumberland. There are hints of the Arthurian tradition as they re-enact Star Wars for the children, but that's as far as the chivalry and courtly attitudes go. They are struggling to survive and may not last another year.

The pace quickens as dragons come visiting, killing people and destroying the year's crop. Then Van Zan, played by Matthew McConaughey, turns up. He is accompanied by a small army. The people in the castle suspect he is a marauder, but he claims to be a dragon hunter so Quinn reluctantly lets them in.

There are plenty of edge-of-seat thrills as they fight seemingly invincible dragons. These creatures look like giant aerial skates and are terrifyingly realistic. They are natural creatures with none of the wisdom or gold-hoarding tendencies traditionally associated with dragons. The makers have chosen to portray it as straight sci-fi without a trace of fantasy or magic, explaining it as evolution. This is surprisingly plausible and twice as worrying.

Reign of Fire is a film best viewed on the big screen for the full fear effect. It's an original take on the normally sickeningly cute dragon genre,and there are images that will stay with you afterwards. It's probably the scariest dragon movie yet made.

Film Details

Year: 2002

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 12

If you like this, try:

Children of Men cover    

Children of Men by Alfonso Cuaron
Humanity faces extinction through infertility in this adaptation of a P.D. James novel.

4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson