A London tunnelling project unearths a fire breathing creature that burns the land and feeds on the ash. Quinn (Christian Bale) and Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) discover must put their differences aside and work together if they are to defeat the dragons to save the world.
Not quite the large-scale epic it promised to be, Reign of Fire
is still an enjoyable entry in the post-catastrophe genre. It opens in present-day London with a boy witnessing the rebirth of the race of dragons, who are supposed to have wiped out the dinosaurs and now devastate the world again. Skipping the collapse of society with a montage of magazine articles about the world in flames, we jump into the future where the remnants of humanity cower in enclaves and fire-breathing raggedy-winged bat-lizards prowl the land. Christian Bale commands a castle in Northumberland, trying to preserve humanity, while Matthew McConaughey is an iron man warrior intent on tracking down and destroying the dragon king, making for a hero-against-hero clash of values which, for a change, finds the British preserver of life, rather than the Yankee animal-killer, getting the girl and the glory.
The film consists mostly of scrabbling about in the ruins, and it rather skimps on the big dragon battles the script seems to demand. There's little here that hasn't been done before in The Day of the Triffids on television or that slew of Italian Mad Max imitations of the early 1980s. But director Rob Bowman (The X-Files) and a good cast handle themselves well, and the few times that the dragons do show up they deliver an acceptable burst of fiery horror. --Kim Newman