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REIGN OF FIRE

Somewhere in the near-future, the world lies in post-apocalyptic ruins. Dragons — that’s right, giant flying lizards that breathe fire — have scorched the planet. Our voiceover history lesson tells us that they’ve been lying dormant since wiping out the dinosaurs and have now awaked to gorge on humans. Holed up in a castle in Northumberland, a group of ragtag survivors led by Christian Bale (American Psycho) is joined by an American military detail commanded by Matthew McConaughey in an attempt to do what the fully armed superpowers of the world were unable to accomplish: take back the planet.

As a big, cheesy spectacle, Reign of Fire belongs in the pitiful pantheon of ludicrous futurescapes that boasts Battlefield Earth and Waterworld. The FX fail to awe, and the narrative structure is egregiously lifted from Mad Max. Director Rob Bowman (The X Files) does his part to no effect, leaving the door wide open for McConaughey’s cartoonish commando to steal the circus. Bald, buff, and barking in atavistic grunts, McConaughey is more pro-wrestling caricature than world savior. In short, this bombastic future hell is hell to get through. (100 minutes)

BY TOM MEEK

Issue Date: July 18 - 25, 2002
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