Plot: What’s it about?
There aren’t a lot of movies about dragons out there. In more recent times, pardon the pun, there are only a handful that come to mind. Sure, we all think of Puff, but that’s a cartoon (then again, seeing as how dragons aren’t real, could a cartoon be just as accurate as the "real" thing)? Dennis Quaid’s movie Dragonheart (featuring the voice of Sean Connery as the "last" dragon) was a flop as was the recent (and the name most associated with the word dragon) Dungeons & Dragons, based on the popular role-playing game of the 80’s. So now director Rob Bowman, of X-Files fame, has taken his look a the world of dragons from a somewhat different perspective, in that what if they were still alive in modern times and were discovered? The future looks bleak, according to the film, but with "tough guy" actors Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale headlining the film, would this help the story at all or not?
I don’t know. I have to admit that when I saw the trailers for this film, I wasn’t too excited, come to think of it, movies (both good and bad) come to DVD so fast, I hardly have time to make it out to the theater anymore. But there is a plot to the film and it’s not quite as bad as you might think. We meet Quinn (Christian Bale) as he is just a youngster. Living in London, they are in the midst of a tunneling project only to unearth a dragon that has been living there for who knows how long. The trick is that the dragon feeds on ash, and as dragons breathe fire, essentially everything they encounter ends up in this form. Quinn witnesses the death of his mother, a worker in the tunneling project and as we leap forward in time, he has now become a "Fire Chief". The dragons have taken over the Earth, flying about and feeding on the ashes everywhere. This can’t be however, as there would be no point to the movie. It’s then that we meet Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) with his pack of soldiers. Van Zan, aside from having a cool-sounding name that rhymes, drives a tank and will stop at no cost to see that the humans take back the Earth as they know it. Knowing all of this, what do you think happens?
Reign of Fire wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought, I’m certainly not a fan of the genre by any means, but this is good for a rainy day (the fire on screen will counter act any feelings of gloom that you might be encountering). The leads live up to their namesake and if any females are in the audience, there’s a lot of male flesh to be seen. But the film is obviously geared to a younger, male-oriented crowd that want to see two tough guys kick some dragon ass! This is almost a polar opposite of the X-Files movie and I’ve got to admit that I’ve never seen a full episode of the television show, so I have no basis for comparison here. Reign of Fire, while a tad bit predictable, is very entertaining. It bucked the system when so many of us are watching Spider-Man or awaiting more X-Men to fulfill our urges for a fantasy/action-adventure movie, this fit the ticket real nicely. Fans of the genre will undoubtedly be impressed with what’s going on screen. As for me, I’ll probably watch it again sometime, if only to see some cool fire-breathing dragons.
Video: How does it look?
As expected, the 2.35:1 anamorphic image is very good. The movie is new to DVD and the sparkling transfer gives this movie something to be proud of on the home video front. I was surprised that most of the movie had a lot of blue tones to it (much like one-third of the movie Traffic), perhaps trying to show the somewhat desolate future that the men lived in. I would have thought that there were a lot of red tones to it, but reds and picture quality don’t always go hand in hand. For the most part there is little or no edge enhancement and no signs of artifacting. Some shots seem to suffer a bit, but this is another fine effort by Disney.
Audio: How does it sound?
As Disney has been doing of late, this comes equipped with dual DTS and Dolby Digital tracks that, quite simply, both rock. I listened to several key sequences in the movie and the DTS does have a bit more bass and depth, as it usually does. However, if Dolby Digital is what you have, then you won’t be disappointed with the way this track sounds either. Both feature amazing surround effects and the LFE channel is humming almost from opening credits to closing credits. One thing about dragon movies, the fire coming out of their mouths sounds amazing, especially on DVD. A rockin’ soundtrack might have the neighbors complaining, so turn it up!
Supplements: What are the extras?
You would think that a somewhat so-so movie at the Summer box office would garner a few more supplements when t hit the home video arena. No dice here as there are only three featurettes and a DVD-ROM feature wanting you to register your disc. The featutrettes are good, though, that focus on how the dragons were made for the film ("Breathing Life into the Terror"); and a very informative featurette on the pyrotechnics of the film ("If you can’t stand the heat"). Lastly, there is a conversation with the Director, Rob Bowman. Bowman tells of his motivations to make the movie, how it fared,etc. A good featurette that shows how much he cared about the project. All in all, it’s a good movie with just enough supplements to whet the appetite. But in the end, you can turn it off and be thankful that dragons aren’t real!