Reign Of Fire (2002)

(In theaters, July 2002) One shouldn’t judge a film by its poster, and that certainly stands double for Reign Of Fire, given that the Apache-helicopter-versus-dragons fight depicted on the one-sheet is an unfilmed part of the back-story. What we’re stuck with is not an exciting techno-thriller against dragons, but yet another post-apocalyptic hunt-the-top-monster film. Once it dawns on the viewer which kind of film this is going to be, Reign Of Fire becomes an unsurprising exercise in filling in the numbers. Numerous plot holes dog the film’s credibility, even accounting for the fact that this is a story about dragons. Interestingly enough, though, the real star of Reign Of Fire isn’t Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupco or any of the dragons, but Matthew McConaughey! His “Zander van Zam” is a cigar-chomping quasi-parody of a gruff military man, and -boy oh boy- does he kick some butt in a role completely different from what he’s done before. Anyone who had dismissed McConaughey based on his innocuous turns in films like Ed TV or The Wedding Planner might be deeply surprised by his screen presence here; he’s one of the few things saving this film from B-movie oblivion. Other standout sequences include a few nice dragon shots and a boffo skydiving sequence. Don’t expect much in terms of cinematography, though: The somber visual tones of the film even manage to turn fire to monochrome (!) and after a while, your eye will thirst for some green. Actually, you mind will thirst for the film you were promised by the poster, but -hey- it did get you in the theater, didn’t it?

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