Reign of Fire

Reign of Fire (2002) movie poster

(2002) dir. Rob Bowman
viewed: 12/11/02

This movie looked ridiculous, almost to an amusing degree. I can enjoy bad films as much as the next guy. Maybe I enjoy them ironically, but I can enjoy them.

Directed by Rob Bowman, whose previous directing work included lots of television science fiction and The X-Files (1998) movie, Reign of Fire seems to take its hilariously outrageous pretense very seriously and tries to depict its fire-breathing dragons invading Earth story as realistically as possible. In digging a subway tunnel in contemporary London, excavators unearth (and unleash) a long-hidden ancient dragon. In less than a generation, the creatures drive humanity back to Dark Age lifestyles. The protagonists hole up in an ancient castle in Northumberland. It’s an post-apacolyptic vision with a D & D fantasy twist.

The fantasy aspect to this vision of mass destruction seems to in fact be far more pure “fantasy” than one imbued with significant meaning. I struggle a bit to ascertain some semblance of the subtext at play here. Just what are the dragons meant to represent? Are they some environmental revenge or perhaps merely a metaphorical trigger that unleashes civilization’s weaponry to an ultimate mass destruction? Neither of these ideas holds up under much analysis.

It is unsurprising that much of the discourse of the film seems rather muddled. A good deal of the plot points of the film are equally silly and utterly full of holes.

Despite the film’s inherent silliness and its utter inability to acknowledge that fact, I found this movie moderately entertaining. I might have been my incredibly low expectations that allowed for that, but I have seen far worse (see Brotherhood of the Wolf for example). In many ways, this is a shallow, “by-the-numbers” Hollywood action flick with all the latest digitally animated fantasies dominating the screen. Perhaps this film’s greatest merit is its ludicrous plot.

I also found the weird homage to The Empire Strikes Back extremely corny and hilarious.

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