ROB BOWMAN’S REIGN OF FIRE — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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I’m picky when it comes to fantasy movies. Very picky. I’m not a fan of LOTR or any of its seemingly endless derivatives. But while not perfect, I’ve always had a HUGE soft spot for Rob Bowman’s Reign of Fire, which sports a genre-popping screenplay by Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka, and Matthew Greenberg that had some fun with a wild premise. Extremely enjoyable on a blunt-force level, I still wish it had been rated-R, and it definitely needed more tanks, helicopters, and few more scenes with multiple dragons tearing shit up, as those AMAZING one-sheets had promised. However, what was delivered was still a total blast of fabulous looking B-movie fun, and the numerous, high-grade action scenes have an in-camera integrity and an honest sense of weight to them. The CGI dragons were definitely some of the best that I’ve seen in any movie – why do older special effects look so much better than a lot of the stuff that we’ve seen on screen in the last couple of years?

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There’s tons of yelling, grunting, and sweating with macho behavior galore from an almost impossibly beefy cast. You got Christian Bale pre-Batman, Matthew McConaughey before his McConaissance, ex-Bond girl Izabella Scorupco looking way hot, and Gerard Butler rather effectively playing third fiddle. The production value on this movie was just massive, and I loved the desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland production design by Wolf Kroeger (Casualties of War, The 13th Warrior) and the bleached and scorched cinematography by the great Adrian Biddle, who shot Thelma & Louise and 1492: Conquest of Paradise for Ridley Scott, among many other fabulous credits. Bowman, a veteran of television’s The X-Files and helmer of the theatrical spin-off The X-Files: Fight the Future, really used the widescreen space with authority in this movie; there’s an aesthetic muscularity to the entire film that I’ve always noticed on many repeat viewings. This is a very solid, unpretentious B-movie made with a slick visual panache that might’ve been better had it gone even more berserk with the larger battle scenes. But back in 2002, this movie must’ve cost a mint.

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