Reign of Fire (2002)

“Only one thing worse than a dragon… Americans.”

I love this movie.

This is without question the most insanely whacked out post-Apocalyptic future ever imagined.  I mean, the whole world devastated by the return of an ancient, long-forgotten, now legendary species:

Dragons.

Yes, dragons.  The idea is brilliant.  In some totally mad and wildly entertaining popcorn movie sort of way, that is, with some of the best cinematic dragons you are ever going to see, and a lot absolutely incredible action.

And then there’s the cast:  a young Christian Bale is paired with a manic and wild-eyed Matthew McConaughey, supported by an unrecognizable Gerard Butler and a brief appearance by Alice Krige, fresh off her role as the Borg Queen.

Bale is Quinn, the leader of a tiny community which has somehow managed to survive in the midst of all the destruction and death, while McConaughey is Van Zan, the shaven-headed commander of a group of soldiers who arrive at their door one day on a dragon hunt that may be far more than they’re telling their reluctant hosts.   

But the real stars are the dragons, which radiate a sinister presence, all mindless hunger and deadly fury:  they move with an astounding fluidity and, however doubtful the physics may be, they way they fly looks very real.  It is as if we are watching some monstrous bat creature.  The detail and design is amazing, with one of the best touches the small holes in the bull dragon’s wings.  While it may not seem as awe-inspiring in the air, the shots of it on the castle walls, or on the ground, confronted by the human stars are stunning.

I particularly like the notion that the dragons caused the extinction of the dinosaurs then went into hibernation, although by far the best part of the film comes when Bale and Gerard Butler re-enact a certain famous movie scene!

There are even a few serious questions being thrown around, as befits any good post-Apocalyptic film.  And, what’s more, they are questions with no easy answers.

Which is the way it should be.

However, there is one question about the film which does worry me: is it just coincidence that the new series of Legendary Godzilla films have adopted a very similar prehistory for their “Titans?”

After all, they, too,  once ruled the Earth, but have been sleeping.

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