The Good

Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale provide two very interesting performances. Interesting and informative extra features.

The Bad

Too much of this film felt like a TV movie. The dragons don't look real.

When workers in a London tunneling project accidentally awake a beastly dragon from many years of slumber, the stage is set for an epic confrontation between man and beast. Young Quinn (Christian Bale) witnesses his mother killed by these beasts and is thus adversely effected for the rest of his life. Years later, now working as a "fire chief", Quinn has got to protect a group of refugees from these dragons who now "dominate" the air. He is joined in his fight by Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey), the leader of a small American militia. What unfolds is the final chapter in which only one group can prevail.

Reign of Fire is one of those movies you either get into or you don't. It's nice mix of macho energy and intense action sequences either works for you or it doesn't. As people playing these characters, I think Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale acquit themselves very well. Sadly, I think this film's biggest asset is also it's greatest liability. The FX just don't look that good. Furthermore, the dragons never really scared me unless they were only on screen for a split second. Whether watching this movie on the PSP or in the theater, I don't think I would have been swept up on this film no matter how I screened it.

Features

Breathing Life Into the Terror and Conversations with Rob Bowman

It could be because of the smallness of the PSP, but these two supplemental features seem like they should have been cut together as one. In Breathing Life Into the Terror we are taken into the world of how Reign of Fire was made. We are shown the special FX of the film and how in order to make things truly scary the creators tried to base things in reality. There is also a rather in-depth look at how the monsters in the film were created.

Lastly, Conversations with Rob Bowman is an intimate discussion in which he talks about his influences as a filmmaker (and for this film), what it was like working on The X-Files, making the movie and how that has informed his other work. Some of this supplemental footage just has bars on the left and right side (probably to maximize it's quality due to how it was shot), while other footage has bars all around it. Overall, these are decent extras that give a bit more information about Reign of Fire and the people who made it.

Video

2.35:1 - Widescreen. There are black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. This movie is much too dark for this format. It seems like the compression used hasn't helped this matter either. The images on the screen are just way too dark and as such I spent a lot of this movie squinting trying to process what I was seeing. Also, the FX look too much like something you would see on television. One would think that this film would have enough money behind it to have better FX than are on display here. Also, whenever they show the monster for any length of time it just never grabbed me in any way. When they established it in those quick jolting moments that elicited some genuine shock, but I cannot honestly say that I was ever really scared while watching this film.

Audio

Stereo. The sound design for this UMD is where all the terror really lies. If anything is going to scare viewers it will certainly be the sound, mainly because the images on screen don't have the effect that I am sure they are supposed to have. For the most part, unless there are scares (or until the Van Zan character shows up) things are pretty quiet. Once the battles begin, the audio becomes big, but by this point I was so numbed by the way this movie looked that all the sound served to do was make for an unpleasant experience.

Package

Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale both sport facial hair on this epic looking cover. Below them, a dragon breathes fire as chaos looms all around. This movie, despite some of it's shortcomings, has a certain attitude and swagger that cannot help but endear itself to movie watchers. The back of this cover features a description of the film, "Bonus Features" and some technical specs. This movie and this cover both have an "otherworldly" look about them, and that is what ultimately, in my opinion, saves this film from being a complete waste of time.

Final Word

What a coup getting Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale in the same movie, huh? I'll bet that would be hard to pull off now? What with Matthew McConaughey's rising star and Bale's recent turn as Batman. Still, there is a chemistry between these two actors that I would like to see them do more stuff together. It doesn't even have to be action oriented, although I am sure that there is something execs could find for them in that genre. Personally, I would like to see them in a buddy movie along the lines of Tin Men.

Reign of Fire didn't blow me away but I think this is the kind of movie that is worth watching at least once.

Reign Of Fire was released July 12, 2002.