Dragon movies are pretty rare. Good dragon movies are like finding a needle in a haystack that's already been set on fire by one of the mythical lizards. Dragonheart? Not even Sean Connery could save that film from craptitude. Dungeons and Dragons? Did anybody see this one? It had a Wayans brother in it and that was enough to keep my friends and I away. So that means that the last great movie about dragons was Dragonslayer back in 1981! We were way overdue for another cool one.
Reign of Fire is almost everything a big dragon movie needs to be cut-ass rugged. It's got tough men and women who fight the beasts. It's got some cool and original ways in which to slay the behemoths too. But most importantly it's got some of the meanest mother fucking monsters filmdom has ever seen! The dragons themselves are basically ferocious wild animals. They're not magical in the least. They do shoot fire out of their mouths (a natural napalm made up of two separate chemicals from some glands in their throats) though, and that ability chars a few supporting actors into Cajun food on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, RoF is not perfect. It's on par with Dragonslayer, but it doesn't topple it as "Ultimate Dragon Movie of All Time". It all begins in present day London when some little pasty bloke finds the uber-alpha male dragon and wakes him from his eras old slumber. Then hell gets unleashed on Earth. Humanity can't stop the millions of pissed off and violent dragons that swarm the planet virtually overnight. Nukes only turn our cities to ash faster. The dragons that mankind does take down are replaced in no time at all and burn the world to a cinder. A sort of nuclear winter envelopes the planet as all the dragon-fires block out the sun. Pretty sweet start to a movie, huh?
But then things get emotional. One of the last bastions of man in Europe is in Northern England. The kid that woke up the first dragon (now the adult Christian Bale) is the head of a small group of men and women and lots of children who hole up in an old castle and basically try to outlive the scaly smokestacks that rule the skies. There is nothing left on Earth but ruins, and the humans are hoping that the dragons will starve off first. There is a lot of "But what about the hungry children?!" speeches given that don't exactly bring tears to anybody's eyes. Too forced.
Soon though, Van Zan (Matthew McConnooghea.. sp?) and his tough as nails (and psychotic as my crazy Uncle Owen after he gave himself that partial lobotomy) U.S. Marines show up with tanks and helicopter (and unlimited fuel) and start to cause trouble. They want to kill the uber-alpha male that rules over the rest of its kin, and to do that they need to go to London where they think it still roosts. A bunch of infighting and lizard fighting ensues. More dragons and people die.
All of that is really cool and all, but the whole movie just felt like it was missing something. Yeah, the special effects were the most realistic I've seen in years (totally believed that the dragons were in the same scenes as the people), but I'm talking about the feel of the film. Not the look. Reign was just begging to be "epic". It should have had thousands of soldiers attacking hundreds of the hell beasts with thousands of guns and hundreds of tanks and planes. Think the Normandy invasion of Saving Private Ryan, but with dragons instead of gay Nazis. That would have been one of the most ferocious monster movies ever made. Instead we get dragon fights that consist of one dragon at a time versus 1-4 people at a time. Heart-pounding and tense, yes, but not as kickin' as I wanted. Maybe they're just saving that for the sequel.
I do have to admit though, that despite Reign not being the be-all end-all winged lizard movie that it could have been, there is one scene in particular that made it into my Top Five All Time Greatest Movie Scenes Collection. It goes a little something like this: Since there is no more television, no more movies or books in the burnt up world of the future, the grown-ups act out their favorite movies and such to the children. Christian Bale and his best friend are seen in one quick scene acting out the whole lightsaber battle between Luke and Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Awesome.
Thank Christ that the future world that I come from doesn't have a history of these flying flaming freaks! Most people in my time have a gigantic fear of reptiles that defies all logic.
I myself am partially immune to this lunacy, but then again none of my relatives were devoured by the invading Ik-Thiak Army of Genetrosis IV ten years back. They were all scaly and ugly and all, but to hold a phobia for this long is just silly (and most of their captors were eaten in privacy too, so it's not as if they even witnessed their loved ones turning into dinner).
Oh shit. Don't tell the Rossman this, but I think I fucked up big time. After watching Reign of Fire with him he made me promise that I would not try to genetically create any of those winged beasts that so inspired me from the movie... But I just couldn't help myself. My yen for destructive monsters beat out my sensibility yet again.
It all started out fine. I merged a komodo dragon with a bat and a flame thrower and got the most terrifying hell-beast to ever walk the planet as an end result. At first it only did things that were a benefit to mankind: Such as burning down Jimmy Jammer's home and eating his spleen. But then it turned a bit crazy and started burning random people's spleens and eating lots of homes. After half of the town was in ruins I came up with an idea on how to stop the genetic freak. I dressed up like a girl dragon (complete with fishnets and heels) and lured my misunderstood and evil beast into a brilliant and meticulously built trap I had made. A trap that was so brilliant it was simple. And illegal. It basically consisted of a big bomb. But it was a bomb that I built after stealing some plutonium from some Libyans after they asked me to build them a similar device...
In related news, through my time displacement machine I have learned that I will be killed by some angry terrorists in the parking lot of the local mall after they discover that the "bomb" that I did give them was in essence made up of pinball machine parts and some dog droppings. But because of the whole "exploding dragon" thing that occurred over the Rossman's residence last week, he now refuses to help me build my DeLorean and evade my future by traveling to the past... or is that the present?.... Anyway, it would probably just cause another temporal loop that would stop the universe and all the multi-verses in their tracks again, so it's probably for the best. Wish me luck though. I plan to dress up as a female Libyan to get out of this potential comical situation.