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Reign of Fire
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Length:1 Hour 42 Minutes
Cast:Rob Bowman, Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco

Yet another sci-fi movie presenting a bleak vision of post-apocalyptic civilization, Reign of Fire breaks from tradition by introducing a menace more suitable to sword-and-sorcery fantasies than futuristic thrillers. The film is set in 2020, some years after a horde of fire-breathing dragons have emerged from the earth's bowels. Having all but obliterated mankind, these flying foes have established their dominance over the world -- but they're about to get their first serious challenge from English survivor Quinn (Christian Bale) and rugged American soldier Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey). Thanks to the expertise of computer-graphics experts, Reign's dragons are the most hideously realistic that have ever graced the screen, and director Rob Bowman (The X Files) shows commendable restraint in keeping them off screen whenever possible, which maximizes the effect of scenes in which they do appear. Bale's character is not your typical sci-fi hero: He doesn't have all the answers, he can be downright surly, and he's only effective when being goaded into action by McConaughey's character. Izabella Scorupco registers solidly as one of Van Zan's warriors, and unlike most genre heroines, her contribution to the film is more than decorative. Ingenious art direction sustains the illusion of mass destruction and desolate landscapes, and the fine cinematography combined with clever lighting effects helps establish mood. Extremely well paced and studded with truly spectacular action sequences, Reign of Fire is one of 2002's best genre films. Ed Hulse

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