Making the Grades
The future looks grim in the year 2020. Two decades earlier, a tunneling crew working beneath the busy streets of London accidentally awakened a fire-breathing dragon. Now, civilization as we know it, is nearly obliterated as a growing horde of the flying creatures scour the earth in search of human flesh to eat.
Quinn Abercromby (Christian Bale) is the head of a small group of English survivors holed up in the charred remains of a stone building. His tenuous task is to keep the beasts at bay while the starving inhabitants try to harvest a meager crop from their ash-covered fields. In the evening he and his friend Creedy (Gerard Butler), gather the group's children to rehearse their safety rules in a prayer-like ritual before sending them off to bed.
His role as the man-in-charge is endangered however, when a group of American ground troops and their helicopter-flying scout (Izabella Scorupco) show up. Commanded by the swaggering, cigar-chewing Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey), the dragon slayers need a place to retreat long enough to regroup for their next attack on the plundering giants.
But Quinn is soon cursing the day he opened the gates after Van Zan begins recruiting the Englishmen (by means of a reinstated draft system) and then inadvertently draws the winged monsters back to the heart of the European's complex. Given his precarious position as leader Quinn has to face more than one kind of enemy head-on in an attempt to preserve his people and end the dragons' reign of terror.
Other than a fistfight involving the two leaders (including repeated punches to the face and some blood), most of the action violence happens between the airborne flamethrowers and the humans (who are occasionally eaten whole).
Set against a bleak gray backdrop, Reign of Fire has visual effects that range from average to amazing. Teenaged sci-fi fans especially, may enjoy the blending of modern weaponry and Star Wars lore with the historic crossbow and war steed. On the other hand, youngsters may get burnt by this dragon tale that, at best, may only be suitable for older family members.