First up, if you don't get the pun in the title Reign of Fire then you shouldn't watch this film. You're either too smart, too stupid, or too uptight.
For all us other people sitting in the middle, who see a title like that and go "hehe, that's clever, I get it", we are the target audience.
To us I say "Let us take our pants off and enjoy the stupidity!"
For in the future, Rob Bowman tells us that dragons will once again rule the air, just like they did back in 1976. Look it up. It's true.
Deep underground, the English are digging yet another bloody tunnel, when they unexpectedly uncover a sleeping dragon which wakes and goes totally batshit... no, make that dragonshit.
So, jump forward a bunch of years to 2020, and we discover the dragons have burnt everything to a crisp, having multiplied to over a million and pretty much doing as they please, what with the human race not having figured out how to build the world's biggest fire-extinguisher yet.
To this crispy new world we meet Quinn, who witnessed the first dragon make his escape and kill his mother years before. All grown up, he now lords it up over a bunch of Cockney survivors with bad accents holed up in an old castle, quietly trying to survive without food and decent parking space.
Then along comes crazy bald-headed, cigar-chomping American actor Matthew MacConaheylookatme! with his roving troupe of gungo-ho militia types. He's a dragonslayer looking for the big daddy dragon and a disposable razor that cuts closer on the second pass. He and Quinn clash over the need to survive or the need to fight, and eventually they decide that a movie about how to grow a vegetable garden wouldnít be as exciting as blowing up dragons with machine guns and crossbows.
Youíve probably already decided if this kind of silliness is your bag. I decided that it is, and looked forward to the prospect of dragon and humans going manoĖa-mano for the fate of mankind. But, like many it seems, the reality of this just couldnít live up to the hype.
It's still a bit of good fun nonsense, but it's just not quite as good as it could have been. It looks like it suffered from a limiting budget, so that we never really get a sense of a million dragons overtaking the world and setting cities on fire, with major landmarks burning and huge aerial warfare etc etc, we're just asked to take it for granted that it all happened.
The scenes of devastation we see are limited to a few quick shots of London on one set. Personally, I wanted to see large scale destruction, something achieved much better with Independence Day, but all we get are flashback newspaper headlines and a quick voice-over.
That doesn't mean I didn't like it, quite the opposite. it's just that it's not quite the apocalyptic spectacle that I had hoped for, and that leaves a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. Still, getting in the right frame of mind, you'd be hard pressed to say that this doesn't makes for a fun 100 minutes in a "Hey, dragons, cool!" kind of way. Any film with man killing dragons has got to have something going for it, so I say we give it the benefit of the doubt.
This DVD is graced with a 448kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 and a 768 kbps DTS 5.1 mix. Straight up, let me just say that the DTS edges out the DD by a slight margin. Itís more expansive in the creation of the soundstage, a bit clearer and with a bit more thump to enhance the action scenes. That said, the Dolby mix isnít bad, and would stand up just fine by itself, but comparatively it comes off a little more anaemic. Another problem, well perhaps itís more a let down than a problem, is that because the film doesnít have as much action as you might think, the audio can often fold back down into the front channels quite often. So, because of this the surrounds donít rate as highly as expected, even though they do get to kick in a few times. Most notable is the nice use of a dragon panning through the channels as it circles the mob out to kill it. Nice effect, just not enough of it.