Reign of Fire
starring Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey and Isabella Scorurco
written by Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka and Matt Breenberg
directed by Rob Bowman
Christian Bale was the young boy in Steven Speilberg’s Empire of the Sun. More recently, he starred in the movie version of Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. Currently, Bale has two movies on video and in the shops: Reign of Fire, and another futuristic film, Revolution.
Reign of Fire is an apocalyptic vision of Earth’s future, set in the year 2020, that features dragons. Basically, it is discovered that the mythical fire-breathing creatures of the past are not/were not mythical fancies of our pre-industrial/pre-literate/pre-technological forebears at all. They really existed. They were the true cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the ash from the fires they caused with their napalm breath was the true cause of the Earth’s ice ages. But once the animals had destroyed their entire potential food source, they went into long hibernation and are accidentally discovered and revived in modern times by a London underground construction crew. (The movie was filmed in Ireland.)
Humankind’s best technology cannot stop the swarm of dragons. They reproduce and multiply faster than can be explained. They burn everything and then feed off the ashes. Humans finally resort to our ultimate weapons - nukes - which only aggravates the problem rather than extinguishing it. We are reduced to prehistoric living conditions. Once again, the dragons’ food source is destroyed and they themselves are starving and once more on the brink of returning to long hibernation. Discovering this, an intrepid group of human survivalists (led by an American, naturally) in northern England is preparing for a final assault on the original London nest. It seems that destroying the dragons’ sole alpha male will spell the end of their reign of terror - pardon me, I mean fire.
Matthew McConaughey, whom you might recall from his co-starring role opposite Jodie Foster in Contact, inexplicably appears in northern England in a big tank, calling himself Van Zan of the Kentucky Irregulars. Seeing a large tank approaching their fortified habitat, the British at first fear marauders. But when they recognize Van Zan’s American accent one of them utters my favorite line from the movie, “Only one thing worse than a dragon: Americans.” I thought, “Right on!”
Fire seems to be the single biggest element of the story. Everything is either burning or burned. People, hair, clothes, are all scorched black. Watching the film I expected that I should be experiencing an accompanying odor of soot, because that is how it looked. I thought, this is either an American nightmare, or else it is life as usual in Britain.