The year was… something like 2000, and I was 15. Christian Bale was not yet Batman, and Darker and Gritty Reboots weren’t a thing yet. Ah, simpler times. I watched a LOT of movies that, being raised by a super-strict mother, I wasn’t allowed to watch at all that year. Alien, Terminator, Predator, Die Hard, Bond, The Matrix, and every special-effects-driven action flick I could get my grubby teenage hands on from the local video store (remember those?). I watched Anime and listened to Rock ‘n’ Roll. I was introduced to the drug trip that was Baz Lurman’s Romeo & Juliet while playing Final Fantasy 8 (those two go together SO WELL). I was reading fantasy books with swords and spells in them.
VHS was on its way out, DVD was on its way in, and I could walk out of Video Ezy with an armload of movies for $10. Which I would pretty much blow through in three days. I had a LOT of catching up to do.
Reign of Fire is one of those post-apocalyptic action movies that was the awesomest thing you’ve ever seen when you’re 15 and haven’t watched a single M-rated movie in your life.
So, how does it hold up, 15 years later?
Truth be told… impressively.
Remember, if you can, a time when action movies had actual *explosions* in them. I’m talking fire, not crappy CGI flames that look more oily than burning. I’m talking the kind of thing that made Mad Max Fury Road awesome, because that shit’s right there, it’s dangerous, it’s real, it’s able to kill people.
And here you have an apocalypse scenario where sleeping dragons woke up from their caves and took to the skies en masse, and the world BURNED.
Yes, it’s a classic Knights vs Dragons scenario, but the knights have .50 calibre machine guns and blackhawk helicopters to fight them with. Which is good because there’s a fucktonne of them to deal with, and all they’re doing is surviving.
The tactics they use, the preservation of knowledge, are the only things that humanity have to use against such a force.
And the scenery, while largely bleak-looking, *looks* like it’s been burnt to a crisp. Crops burn, cities burn, iconic monuments get a heavy dose of fireball.
Glorious. Because it’s real fucking fire.
The dragons? Classic-looking, really, the CGI holds up amazingly well considering when this was made and how bloody hard it was to get it looking that good in 2000. This and The Matrix were benchmarks for CGI, and the trainwreck of CGI flops since just goes to prove that the damn thing was overused because of course it was. Every studio executive sees an amazing action movie and thinks of the money and how it’ll buy their fourth yacht. Except most CGI between then and now looks like shit, most Marvel movies notwithstanding.
That’s why I love action movies with balls. Practical effects, CG where it’s absolutely necessary and only as a last resort, characters who aren’t SWOLL AF, or at least have some fucking battle scars… I miss those days.
Those were good times. The last couple years, apart from most of the Marvel movies, I don’t get nearly enough enjoyment out of the experience (or have nearly enough disposable money) to go to the movies like I used to, so I save my money for movies that rock. I’m not wasting $20 on utter shit. But now I have this one, and I can say, what was awesome when I was 15, is still awesome at 31, at least in this case.