ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  rob bowman

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  fantasy

LENGTH  -  113 minutes

RELEASED  -  12 july 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  touchstone pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  reign of fire

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $95,000,000
reign of fire - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from reign of fire at

buy the dvd from reign of fire at

a brood of fire-breathing dragons emerges from the earth and begins setting fire to everything.

this film takes place in north england, but was filmed in ireland.


picture from reign of fire

picture from reign of fire

picture from reign of fire


three out of four possible stars

A fast ride from the first frame to the last, Reign of Fire promises an exciting action movie filled with huge fire breathing dragons and doesn't disappoint. While the gray world of post-apocalyptic England is not the most beautiful landscape, the dragons are some of the most realistic villains to fly around in any recent movie. The script has a sense of humor about it that keeps the audience from taking any of the scientific impossibilities seriously. The film is a textbook example of how to make an action movie with no conspicuous missing elements or bald spots. Although the script can't be compared to any recent Oscar winning screenplays, it is still something which shouldn't trouble the audience, given that they will be much more interested in the dragons flying around onscreen, than anything else.

And those dragons are quite impressive. Like the realistic dinosaurs of Jurassic Park 3, the special effects in this movie appear just enough throughout the film to impress the audience, but don't overwhelm viewers either. It's not a non-stop CGI fest, so some of the focus rests on the actors as well as those dragons. Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale pull off the dueling heroes roles very well and add just enough bite into their performances to keep the dragon-less sequences interesting. And the supporting characters, with performances from Izabella Scorupco and Gerard Butler, round out the cast well. They're just three dimensional enough to keep the audience interested in their destinies.

Perhaps one of the only drawback to this action festival is the improbability of the plot. While the concept itself is quite interesting, the exact plot contains some elements so unbelievable, that then they are placed in a film, seem to hover in the background of one's mind. As can be seen in the trailer, one of the characters asks "how did they go from one to a million in less than a year?" The explanation given is fantastical to say the least, and it takes a strong sense of disbelief to ignore it. Two things allow the audience, in most instances, to forget this strangeness. The first is that the film never slows down enough to allow any thoughts of plot holes to germinate. And second, the film contains dragons. So believing in the movie means one has to leave any doubts about the existence of giant fire-breathing beasts at the door.

A small element of this film, which seems to work quite nicely, is the ending. Although the heroes metaphorically "walk off into the sunset," the picture doesn't end right after the finale. But neither does it carry on too long. There is just enough of an ending to button up the movie, without it being too involved with lame action movie endings like having the characters give one another high-fives or thumbs up. And given that the film is about fifteen minutes under two hours (not including the credits), the film doesn't drag on to some protracted ending. The action sequences throughout the film always end before the fighting becomes monotonous.

The recent film, The Scorpion King, took action sequences to new lengths with its twenty-five minute climax sequence and that film suffered from too much time being spent in one specific action scene. Reign of Fire is an action sequence from beginning to end, but it never stalls by making the audience stare at the same scene for a fourth of the film. This film is a quick journey to each plot point and is even more impressive in that it introduces the characters sufficiently so that the audience knows enough about them to care about what happens. But there isn't a lot of downtime either. What it all amounts to is a good balance between character development and fire breathing action fun.

The script for this movie, more specifically the dialogue, will never turn heads, but its more entertaining than the vast majority of summer blockbusters. It's not so incredible that it's noticeable, but neither is it noticeable because its horrid. Like the other elements in this film, Reign of Fire strikes an even balance between the good and the bad. This film is what action fans should expect when the file into the theater to see fighting, mayhem, and explosions. There is just the right amount of special effects, giving the film a proper length for an action oriented film, and enough entertaining performances to fill the calm moments. The true definition of a summer popcorn flick, Reign of Fire is an entertaining experience on the big screen.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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