The year is 2020 and Earth is nothing more than a charred space rock thanks to the destruction of civilization by a breed of fire breathing dragons, that have replaced humans at the top of the food chain. The exact remaining population is unknown, but the strongest resistance is located in England where a band of American rogue marines meet up with the British rebels.
For the most part, Reign of Fire is an entertaining post-apocalyptic thriller with so much potential. Matthew McConaughey puts in his best efforts as an actor playing the role of Van the 'Dragon Slayer.' Leading the American troops, Van crosses into the territory of Quinn, (Christian Bale) who is in charge of the British soldiers and the orphanage that is home to dozens of children that have been abandoned by their fleeing parents. Also alongside the Americans is a female pilot, Alex (Izabella Scorupco) who flies the helicopter and is the 'eye in the sky' for the rest of the soldiers.
Quinn's story goes a little deeper. At the beginning, we see him as a child working for his mother at some type of mill or factory. A tunnel below London is somehow broken and at that point, the dragons become disrupted and awoken from their long hibernation. It's feeding time.
From the beginning, we learn that the dragons have existed since the beginning of time and were responsible for wiping out the existence of the dinosaurs. They have lived in darkness and finally disrupted about 20 years before the movie takes place.
This movie had so much potential; it bothers me to know this one won't last long or make a good impression in the movie world. The dragons are awesome looking and as realistic as CGI is going to get you. Unfortunately, we don't see them in action that often. The goal of Van and Quinn is to find and kill the only male in order to prevent the population from multiplying any further. Beautiful scenery and well detailed set designs add to the momentum of Reign of Fire, and breathe life into an original story made perfect for summer.
There are some really cool action sequences in the begging including an attempt the take out one of the females by the American team, who skydive out of the helicopter and attempt to tangle the dragon up in their net before parachuting to the ground.
The overall story is too weak. It's too hard to believe that dragons can wipe out Earth's existence in such a short time span. If they are that powerful, there wouldn't be a movie. This is the same type of deal we got with Battlefield Earth, but even thinking about comparing Reign of Fire to Battlefield Earth would be a tremendous insult to Rob Bowman.
The premise that there is only one male can't be justified because the dragon population multiplies too quickly; more males had to have been born. The dragons are compared to fish as it is easy to fertilize hundreds of eggs already growing in the females.
There wasn't enough interaction with the dragons. That's understandable because Reign of Fire was barely an hour and a half long. Too much of the movie centered around the main compound, unimportant characters and the plan to take out the dragons.
Don't go looking for a classical man vs. beast all out war because there isn't one. Most of the marines and fighters die off quickly and never get the chance to fight the dragons. In the end, only a few survive long enough to have the chance to destroy the one male and stop the rapidly growing dragon race.
Reign of Fire perfectly portraits what we imagine fire breathing dragons to look like, but the more you are impressed by the visually stunning creatures, the more you become disappointed with the rest of the movie. For a summer flick, Reign of Fire holds it's own, but expect it to be slowly swallowed up by the remaining July lineup.