Reign of Fire (2002)
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Breathing Life Into The Terror
Featurette-Below The Line: If You Can't Take The Heat
Featurette-Conversations With Rick Bowman
Trailer-Reign Of Fire Video Game
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (65:45)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Rob Bowman|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Star Wars!|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The premise of Reign Of Fire is simple - dragons have been uncovered after millions of years lying dormant (seems it was the dragons that finished off the dinosaurs), and despite the best efforts of the world's military they have burned the majority of the globe to ash. Which is good for them, as ash is their one and only food. In a castle in Northumberland, England, a small enclave of humanity lead by Quinn (a less psycho, although no less buff, Christian Bale) has managed to survive, eking out an existence with hidden crops for food, and a great big wall to protect them. Unfortunately, over the last few years more and more of the crops are being destroyed as the dragons become more desperate - they have bred themselves to such a level that there is no food left. Into this crisis drives the worst thing they can imagine - Americans. More precisely they are a group of soldiers bent on destroying the dragons once and for all, lead by the quite possibly slightly loopy Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey in uber-badass mode). After taking on a dragon that attacks the castle, the soldiers (and some new recruits) head off to London in an attempt to finish the war.
As director Rob Bowman states during his interview, he wanted to get the best actors he could, and he did a rather good job at that. In casting Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, and Gerard Butler, this film boasts not only a very fine line up of proven thespians, but a cast list that should enable most young men to convince their girlfriends to see the movie with them (although I have been reliably informed that this movie has done an excellent job of converting three of the most desired men in films into the undesirable). All this acting ability is largely wasted as the lines are extremely corny and the characters are (with the exception of Quinn) one-dimensional. There's the friend, the crazy bad/good guy, and the smart, pretty woman (Izabella Scorupco) - all straight out of the "how to make an action movie" handbook. The plot is also not the most logical one ever created. There are many niggling holes (where is the water tower mentioned in the first few minutes?), and a few gaping ones (they never seem to have a problem with fuel - even for the helicopter), although a gentle self reminder every now and again that this is a dragon movie makes them far easier to handle.
What does work, and work incredibly well for Reign Of Fire is the effects. You will believe that dragons exist and are ravaging the world. Some of the effects are jaw-dropping, and this is largely due to the way Bowman, using his years of experience on The X-Files, knows to the second and millimetre the exact time and the exact amount to show of his monsters. They are not used too much, but at the same time, they are not hidden right up until the big reveal at the end (which of course usually results in disappointment). Another reason why this is an interesting movie is that it is Bowman's first feature since moving away from The X-Files (for which he directed the movie, and countless episodes), and if this is anything to go by, an extremely capable action director has been found.
Reign Of Fire was never going to be anything but a B-movie, a genre-film, a monster movie, and in that regard it succeeds well. With a few more tweaks, and a little less bravado, it could have been a near-perfect action movie, but as is, it is still a very worthy watch for fans of the genre.
Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is generally sharp, providing a good amount of fine detail. The grain doesn't really effect the sharpness, although at times it does become heavy enough to be easily noticeable (such as from 35:22 to 35:30). For the most part, the grainy nature of the film actually adds to the atmosphere. Shadow detail is extremely good, and with the number of dark scenes in this movie that is very important. There is no low level noise present.
Colours are used in an interesting fashion in this movie, because as noted above, virtually the entire world is in shades of grey. All colours are muted, and this would again seem to be an intentional choice, one that lets the orange of the fire stand out even more.
There are no compression artefacts in this film, and only a very few film artefacts, although some of those (such as the black mark at 35:44) are quite noticeable. Aliasing is reasonably rare, and with only a few very noticeable instances (such as the cables from 35:10 to 35:14), and small number of subtle instances, it never really becomes a distraction.
The subtitles are extremely accurate, well paced, and easy to read. They are also rendered in an attractive font.
This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change taking place at 65:45 during Chapter 7. It was quickly navigated, however it is placed right in the middle of a very tense sequence so it can be a little distracting, and would have been far better placed just a few minutes earlier.
There are two audio tracks present on this disc, both being the original English dialogue, in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps) and DTS 5.1 (at half bit-rate).
Dialogue is clear at all times, although it is often not easy to decipher thanks to the thick accents and slurring of the main characters. Audio sync is mostly spot-on, although there is a small section around 34:37 where it does seem to be slightly out.
The score is credited to Edward Shearmur, and is a good effort, matching the mood of the images well, although never straying from a fairly standard approach. It also helps provide a lot of the suspense in the dragon-chase sequences.
The surround channels are used very aggressively during almost any scene involving dragons, and also spring into life at other moments during the film (really, what is it about sound designers and helicopters?). When there is little action to get involved with, the soundstage does tend to collapse to the front, although the surrounds do still carry enough of the score to help blend in their use during action scenes.
The subwoofer is extensively used to drive the deep bass of the dragon. Whether it be the footsteps or the beat of the wings, your chair will rumble and the windows will rattle with every move of the dragon. It is also used to back up the score, and most other sound effects where deep bass would normally be expected.
The DTS and Dolby Digital tracks are, as with Bad Company that I looked at the other day, virtually impossible to tell apart.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is very good, and while it can become quite grainy at times, that may well have been an artistic choice.
The audio quality is also very good, with the only let-down being some rather poor use of the surrounds for ambient noise.
The extras, while a little on the short side, are mostly very interesting.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||All matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)|