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Reign of Fire (DVD)

Starring: Christian Bale (Batman Begins), Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco (Who was in GoldenEye apparently. Oh yeah, coming back to me now...)

Rated: 12

Story: It is twenty years in the future and the world has been turned to ash by dragons. Quinn (Bale) leads a community of survivors who have holed up in a ruined castle in Northumberland, trying to eke out an existence while avoiding being snacked on by marauding flying lizards. It seems all is lost. Then a bunch of American soldiers turn up with a stash of nylons and chocolate, and an unlikely plan for victory.

Comments: I seem to remember the posters for this movie showing dragons swooping over the flaming ruins of the Houses of Parliament. I imagined a desperate fight through the skies and streets of the capital, landmarks exploding left and right - kind of like Godzilla but in London AND WITH DRAGONS! How excellent... But, no. That bit, where the dragons take over, is told via a quick flick through the magazine clippings in Quinn's scrapbook. Drat.

For a few minutes it looks like we're going to get an interesting take on the post-Apocalypse movie. Normally we get something set immediately after the disaster (28 Days Later) or so far in the future that everyone's forgotten what happened (Waterworld). Twenty years is long enough for a new society, a new mythology even, to have arisen but short enough for everything to remain rooted in actual memories of our world. These people live a medieval life but re-enact Star Wars for the children. Forget the dragons, let's pretend it was a nuclear war and try to draw some truths about humanity from the aftermath - that would be a great movie... But, again, no. Dragons start turning up and we get a middle-of-the-road action movie. Set mostly in a quarry. Drat.

"But at least it has dragons," I hear you cry and, yes, it has dragons but... but... I'm sorry, dragons don't exist. For some reason my brain can cope with computer generated images of aliens and mummies, vampires and ghosts but show me a dragon chasing a helicopter and it's like someone is trying to sell me a Rolex for a tenner. We're told from such an early age that dragons aren't real, it's very hard to forget. This movie requires more than the suspension of disbelief; it requires the suspension of most higher brain function. Still, as long as there's plenty of tense, close-quarters battling with dragons... Er, yet again, no. The dragons fly fast and spew vast amounts of napalm-death everywhere. The humans run away and hide in holes (usually in the script). Drat.

That's not to say the movie isn't fun, it could just be so much more. It's only in the last half an hour that it settles on its direction and we finally get some proper dragon-slaying thrills. Is that enough to save it...? Thankfully, yes. Hurrah!

Conclusion: There are lots of good ideas here but few are followed through. Bale and McConaughey do well with what they're given, however, and keep things moving along. It's definitely watchable but the real fun is in thinking up all the better dragon movies they almost made.

Explosions: None.
Dragons: Some.
Napalm: Lots.
Opportunities missed: Countless.

Rating: 3/5

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