Reign of Fire Feb 23, 2013 23:23:32 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Feb 23, 2013 23:23:32 GMT -5
Christian Bale vs. a giant, fire-breathing behemoth in Reign of Fire.
Rob Bowman's Reign of Fire is an assault on several of the humans senses, but one of its most offensive qualities is it's often tedious and frequently boring for an action movie. Even action movies I'm not a fan of, "boring" is not the word I'd use to describe them. With this film, it's a strange scenario; I guess I have a low tolerance for films that feature gigantic, fire-breathing dragons and loud, listless characters shouting in thick, often incomprehensible British accents.
The story begins with a young boy named Quinn, who is on-location, admiring the constructing of the London Underground where his mother works. During the construction, the workers awake a gigantic dragon from its hibernation and pay the lethal price of getting incinerated. Quinn and his mother try to escape via loading elevator, but the dragon kills the mother when he flies out of the building, leaving poor Quinn alone. Now it's ten years later, in 2020, and Quinn (Christian Bale) is leading a group of people, who have been forced to leave everything and barricade themselves inside a large castle in Northumberland. London, and possibly the rest of the world, has become taken over and destroyed by large dragons. Quinn has his survivalist group under control, until Americans Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) and Alex Jensen (Izabella Scorupco) arrive to fight back the beasts, leaving him at a quandary. All of his men and women want the same goal, but they want to achieve it through ways of power, leadership, and integrity.
This little detail alone certainly could've posed a great power struggle between the men, but the film is so repetitive, bleak, tonally obnoxious, and uninteresting that one doesn't even seem to mind the lame direction the film takes. This is what you define as lazy disaster filmmaking; mix two separate time periods, throw in robotic characters, neglect all parts of humanity and depth, and market it to those who want to see dragons and nothing more.
Not to mention, isn't it odd how Hollywood can find the most ridiculous things to exploit but there has been a stunning absence of dragon films in the last few decades? Reign of Fire gets points for having a few unique and somewhat interesting instances like where the fire-breathing behemoth leader (?) of them all swoops down and breathes a fire big enough to burn an entire city. Scenes like that have the tendency to leave a viewer with optimism for the remainder of the film, until they realize that it has nothing much else to offer other than repetitive action sequences, a large amount of incomprehensible shouting, and redundant character quibbles on top of convenient melodrama.
If there's one saving grace to this film, other than having one solid scene every thirty minutes, it's the music, done by Edward Shearmur, who prior to this scored the wonderful Kevin Spacey drama K-PAX, beautifully and subtly. Sure, these are two different films, but Shearmur puts in a surprising amount of tension and craft behind the music in this film. When what's on screen fails me, I then employ secondary senses to pick up what ordinary viewers might not even think twice about.
Reign of Fire features two early performances of Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey, both men who started out their careers a tad rocky, yet went on to find different little performances they could work extremely well in. Living in the present, it's sad that it was just around eleven years ago they were giving ho-hum performances in a forgettable actioneer when they would both become recognized for their achievements in difficult, but rewarding roles. The circle of Hollywood life works in odd ways.
Starring: Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco, and Gerard Butler. Directed by: Rob Bowman.