[MOVIE REVIEW]And it burns, burns, burns, that reign of fire

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[MOVIE REVIEW]And it burns, burns, burns, that reign of fire

Long ago, in savage prehistoric times, dragons reigned. They burned all the dinosaurs to death. The ashes from the inferno set off the Ice Age. Then the dragons began to die, and ancient man made them into myths.

This is the premise of "Reign of Fire," setting the movie up for awesome visuals. And it's visually grand, at times. "Reign of Fire," after all, is a monster movie, and no monster movie is complete without scenes of huge beasts fighting against puny mankind. When the dragons do appear, they are elegant and thrilling. But they don't have enough screen time.

The movie, while better than Courtney Solomon's "Dungeons and Dragons" (2000), doesn't make the most of its ferocious, fire-breathing reptiles. Instead, the movie focuses on humans.

The actors are a surprise. Matthew McConaughey, who usually depicts Southern charmers, plays the tough guy American commando Van Zan, the Dragon Slayer. McConaughey is an action hero who seems to be having fun with his role. He gets to say cocky lines like, "Have your little soiree. Personally, you disgust me."

The bulked-up McConaughey overshadows Christian Bale, who turned in a critically acclaimed performance in Mary Harron's "American Psycho" (2000). Bale plays Quin, the leader of one of the last remnants of mankind.

"Reign of Fire" opens in modern-day London. A young Quin accidentally awakens a dragon who has been slumbering in the bowels of the earth. The dragon fertilizes thousands of eggs, and the dragon reign begins anew.

Decades later, dragons once again rule. The world has burned and few humans are left. Quin has gathered a community in the ruins of a Northumberland castle. Every night, instead of "The Lord's Prayer," the children prepare for a possible attack by reciting, "Dig hard, dig deep. Run for shelter and never look back."

After years of living without contact with other humans, the community is about to revolt. And then the Americans step in with their tanks and military might.

Van Zan believes that the dragon race has one male. Kill the male and you destroy the species. But you have to wonder, the race that controls the entire world has one male? No wonder the female dragons are so angry.

Despite being unabashedly superficial, "Reign of Fire" is, at times, entertaining. At other times, it's full of logical loopholes.

It's a post-apocalyptic era, and the isolated community subsists on tomatoes harvested once a year, yet there is electricity? How do the Americans cross the ocean with one helicopter and several tanks? How do they fuel their vehicles?

Don't expect character or script development, or your emotions to be plumbed. And don't expect tremendous creativity.

Instead, there's plenty of testosterone, a love interest, if somewhat lame, and some amazing special effects.

by Joe Yong-hee

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