Movies That Are Worth Another Look: Reign of Fire

Movies That Are Worth Another Look: Reign of Fire

Dragons in movies, movies about dragons, movies with dragons, or anything that even has ‘dragon’ in the title tends to get at least some notice since dragons, those mythical, fire-spitting creatures of myth and legend, are insanely interesting since the dynamics of their physical construction and mythical nature are by far one of the most interesting fantasy stories around. But there have been plenty of dragon movies that have tripped up along the way no matter how impressive they might have looked and how awesome the story really was. Reign of Fire is another dragon story that had a lot of promise and does deserve another look since it puts its own spin on the whole mythological aspect of dragons. In effect it brings them down to a very biological level that’s kind of disturbing and even pretty scary since aside from the fact that an ancient dragon has the capability of remaining undiscovered for so long, it was also able to survive somehow for long enough to finally awaken when an excavation disturbs its slumber and it’s found out by a young boy that goes exploring. CinemaSins would likely have a heyday with this one and admittedly, as much as I liked the movie it would be deserved. But taking that in stride there is still enough of a story here that the movie does deserve another look and perhaps even a remake, or reboot, following the work laid down by Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey.

The story is pretty simple, as I just mentioned the bull dragon, the single male that exists as far as the audience knows, awakens when an excavation disturbs its resting spot. In response it destroys the site, and as the story moves forward it’s revealed that dragons have suddenly been seen to emerge across the world. Their shocking appearance and ferocity overwhelm the humans within a short time, and as the human race is nearly wiped out a few things are discovered about the dragons. They can be killed, but they are inordinately tough and their breath is like pure napalm, meaning that whatever is standing in their path once they spew their fiery breath is soon immolated and rendered to dust or melted scrap. One might think that tactical nukes would be used eventually but at the same time it’s also enough to believe that the sudden extermination of the human race would make it impossible to rally a defense that would be suitable in the face of such an unknown enemy. The fact that they can also survive on ash is yet another strength they possess since it means that they can survive on live prey as well as matter that’s been charred beyond recognition. On top of this they have only one real weakness throughout the movie that’s exploited later on, the ‘magic hour’ that Van Zan, played by McConaughey, talks about, that short span that’s known as twilight, when the dragons’ vision is visibly impaired.

This movie hinges on a lot of belief that either needs to be suspended or set aside entirely for enjoyment, but the plot itself needs a lot of help despite having a solid premise. Dragons are a problem that humans have not had to deal with for so long that they’ve become myth, but suddenly they’re real, they’re vicious, and they’re obviously out to survive. The sudden onslaught is too much for the humans to take, and despite being able to kill the dragons they’re still nearly wiped out. Enter Quinn, the man who, as a boy, was confronted by the bull dragon, the only male left in the bunch, and the key to defeating the dragons since the rest are apparently female. He and Van Zan, the American who along with his own people figured out that there’s only one male among the fire-spitting beasts, have to come up with a plan to take the bull out since without him, the eggs of the females can’t be fertilized and the race will slowly die out. It’s a fine story, and one that has a lot of action and a great deal of human feeling to it, but there are a few ragged holes that need to be filled and could possibly be given a better representation if someone with the nerve and the desire to make an impressive and very effective dragon movie were to come along. Reign of Fire did recoup its budget but didn’t do much more than this and was left to kind of languish in the box office for a little while before being relegated to the DVD pile, where it’s been for a while now.

But given the chance, this movie could be a great TV show that HBO might make something out of, or it could even be a possible remake that would wow the audience once again.

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