Matthew McConaughey has a world of memorable movies to his credit. Starting with the 1993 stoner comedy Dazed and Confused, McConaughey has titillated audiences with his many shirtless roles, his fun romantic comedies, and sometimes with a very thought-provoking performance. One of his more underrated movies, Reign of Fire, is now available for free on YouTube.
Reign of Fire starts off in present-day London where a young Quinn Abercromby (Christian Bale) is visiting his mother Karen (Alice Krige) who works on the construction of the London Underground. When he goes down to give her some bad news about losing his scholarship, another worker tells Karen that they have hit a cave. Quinn takes a flashlight and explores the cave, unbeknownst to his mother. Inside the cave, Quinn comes in contact with a hibernating dragon. Quinn barely escapes the cave, and he and his mother jump into the elevator to get to the top. But the dragon also escapes the cave, incinerating those below. As the dragon climbs out from the underground, he smashes the elevator, killing Quinn’s mother.
The movie jumps twenty years into the future, and we have yet to meet Matthew McConaughey, but he’s coming. At this point, the world has been decimated by dragons. Apparently, dragons were the cause of the dinosaurs going extinct and have been in hibernation after they destroyed almost every living creature, waiting for the world to repopulate. Quinn has survived and is now grown. He is the leader of a small group of survivors who call Bamburgh Castle their home. But they are starving. Against Quinn’s orders, a group steals a truck with the intent of going to pick tomatoes though it is still too early for them to be harvested. The group is attacked by dragons, killing one of the men.
Another group called the Kentucky Irregulars arrive. This group is led by Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey). He tells Quinn that he has a system for hunting dragons and also informs Quinn the dragon’s weakness is poor vision during twilight. With Van Zan and his team’s help, they hunt and kill the dragon.
Van Zan is ready to hunt them all down. He tells Quinn that all the dragons they have killed have been female and believes that there is only one male. If they find it and kill it, the dragons can no longer reproduce. Quinn knows about the male dragon, it was the one who killed his mother, but he refuses to help. After a disagreement between Quinn and Van Zan leads to a physical altercation, Van Zan takes the strongest men from Quinn’s group to hunt down the male dragon. Quinn tries to warn them just how deadly the male dragon is but Van Zan doesn’t listen.
Van Zan finds out quickly that Quinn was right. The male dragon attacks Van Zan’s group, killing many. It then attacks the castle, killing most inhabitants. When Van Zan returns, Quinn finally agrees to help Van Zan hunt down the male dragon. Who survives the climactic battle is a question answered by rolling over to YouTube and checking it out for yourself?
Reign of Fire was directed by Rob Bowman from a script by scribes Matt Greenberg, Gregg Chabot, and Kevin Peterka. There were high hopes for the movie as it not only starred Matthew McConaughey and Bale but also Gerard Butler and Izabella Scorupco. Alice Krige also has a brief role as Quinn’s mother Karen. Bowman gave life to the dragons with a $60 million budget with the thought that they had box office gold. Given when the film was produced, 2002, the special effects were quite decent, another reason the team making the movie felt they had a hit on their hands. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
The movie only received lukewarm praise from critics and didn’t fare well at the box office, despite having Matthew McConaughey’s presence. It came in behind Tom Hank’s Road to Perdition and Men in Black II on its way to a $15 million opening weekend. In total, the movie brought in a little over $82 million worldwide, a big disappointment for a movie that really isn’t all that bad.
For Matthew McConaughey, Reign of Fire is sandwiched in between another vastly underrated McConaughey movie Frailty and the rom-com How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. At the time, McConaughey seemed to be alternating serious movie to action-adventure to romantic comedy, a recipe that was very successful. Of course, he would go on to become a major sex symbol at the box office with Magic Mike. He also brought home his only Academy Award for Best Actor in the movie Dallas Buyers Club where he played Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient who contracted the disease in the mid-’80s when treatment was just starting. He is also known for his “thought-provoking” Lincoln car commercials.
If you like your dragons with a side of Matthew McConaughey, you can catch Reign of Fire here.