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Movie Review

In the year 2020, only a remnant of humanity remains. Enormous, flame-spewing dragons have all but conquered earth. But their post-apocalyptic Reign of Fire is about to end.

For many years, Quinn (Bale) has served as noble patriarch to a colony of survivors holed up in a crumbling English castle. Food is scarce. The countryside has been turned to ash and rubble. Ill-equipped to battle the beasts, his people simply hope to outlast them. Then a cocky, cigar-chomping American dragon slayer with a Capt. Ahab complex and lots of heavy artillery rolls into the compound. Van Zan (McConaughey) needs recruits to help his high-tech team hunt down the lone bull male, thus assuring the species’ extinction.

Directed by X-Files vet Rob Bowman, Reign of Fire begins promisingly. There’s even a cute scene in which Quinn and a pal playact the climax of The Empire Strikes Back for a group of children. However, its inventiveness evaporates into a series of steely glares between alpha males, and absurd offensives against a winged foe that has no business losing to these guys.

At a time when PG-13 films have become notorious for pressing against the rating ceiling, this one is conspicuously responsible. The profanity is disappointing, but not excessive (most cases are mild except for one s-word, an a--hole, a few uses of b--ch and five abuses of God’s name). There’s no sexuality. And even the violence leaves a lot to the imagination. Sure, people get toasted and gobbled up by fire-breathing dragons, but what’s shocking is how much the filmmakers chose not to show. That restraint may frustrate viewers hungry for gory details, but families can take heart in knowing that not everyone in Hollywood is out to beat the system.

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Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey


Rob Bowman ( )




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Bob Smithouser

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