HTF UMD REVIEW: Reign of Fire

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, May 24, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    [c]Reign of Fire (UMD)
    Region 1 • PG-13 • Subtitles: English • Available Now

    [​IMG][/c]

    Reign of Fire was a pretty overlooked movie back in 2002...but does the UMD make the movie worth checking out? Only if you’re a fan of the film…

    Thoughts on the Movie

    Reign of Fire starts off in London as we follow a young boy to an underground mine, as he goes down the shaft where his mother works. They talk about his private school money situation, how his day was, etc., which is interrupted by some workers discovering a “void” in the mine. Turns out it’s full of dragons which escape and proceed to take over the world.

    Yeah.

    What fascinates me is what the hell this movie was trying to do in the first place. Had the movie followed the dragon’s destruction of the entire Earth…that would have been pretty interesting, and a fun action movie.

    Instead we skip to the aftermath of the wars, with survivors hiding underground until dragons come to eat them, at which they go even further underground. Then some American fighting forces come to the base, asking for assistance, and from there we see lots of dragon fights in the quest to go to London and destroy the male dragon, after which I guess all the female dragons will die. Or something.

    Once the dragon entered the picture, I got into “relax mode” and tried to enjoy this movie as a big dumb adventure film. But I just couldn’t get into the absurdity of it all. The movie is over so quickly (106 minutes) that I was left staring at the PSP screen, wondering…is that all it was? Just a bunch of war torn survivors defending themselves against dragons? And the purpose was…what?

    Had something interesting come out of the movie, I might have enjoyed it. Nothing interesting happens here. Well, except for one scene that I found pretty funny: a group of kids huddle in a room where two men are acting out a play. Turns out the play is a reenactment of the confrontation between Luke and Vader in Empire Strikes Back, with the play’s ending line, “I am your father!” The kids gasp, and then applaud.

    Well, I thought it was pretty funny. And that’s about the only thing I got out of this movie, though I’m sure it has its fans out there, few they may be. I won’t be revisiting this movie anytime soon, if ever.


    Video Quality

    Well...how interesting.

    Reign of Fire has been preserved in its original 2:35 ratio…which means black bars on the PSP screen. Excellent…except I wonder what’s Buena Vista’s method of choosing which movies keep their aspect ratio (Kill Bill and now this movie) and which movies get formatted and cropped (National Treasure, Pirates of the Caribbean). Who knows.

    I’m happy to say that this transfer looks great. Very sharp and crisp, and the black levels have improved quite a bit from Kill Bill, although there is still some lightness in the blacks. While improved, it’s still got a ways to go to perfection….so let’s get those blacks looking black!

    4/5
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    Audio Quality

    Very nice work done on the audio for Reign of Fire…we get some good bass when the dragons breathe fire, and some great directional and positional audio when they fly around the sky. The sharpness is a tad low, however…I would have liked more punch in the highs, like the mids and lows get. Still, a great audio experience that won’t leave you disappointed.

    4.5/5
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    Extras

    We get two forced trailers in the beginning that can be skipped…one for Dark Water and one for the DVD boxset of Alias. Talk about random.

    The menus for Reign of Fire are done pretty well. I like the fluidity of the option selections, and how it feels exactly like a videogame menu, which is a very good thing. The scene selection menu is clever, and Buena Vista seems to already have the hang of making great UMD menus. Nice work.

    We get two extras on this UMD. First up is a featurette called “Breathing Life Into Terror” which is actually pretty short. It gives a quick description of how the dragons had to be made in CGI and such. Next is a twelve minute interview with the director, Rob Bowman. It’s pretty interesting as how he describes his movie as a “B movie made into an A movie” (not quite) as well as his first time directing a monster horror movie.

    For the record, this is not a monster horror movie, unlike what the director says. Monsters from the classic horror pictures had personality…a kind of trait that would make them interesting and, in effect, making them more real and scary. The dragons in this movie have no personality whatsoever. They’re just monsters. Brainless, hungry monsters. I think the director overstepped on that comment…but aside from that, this was a pretty interesting feature.

    The DVD had these two features as well as a third on the pyrotechnics of the film, which unfortunately did not make it onto this UMD. Sounded interesting, but ah well. All in all, a nice assortment of extras and menu design, way more than this movie deserved.

    4/5
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    Overall…

    So…a sub par movie gets a really high quality UMD. Not the first time it’s happen, won’t be the last time. For fans of the movie wanting to know if the UMD is good…it absolutely is, and you shouldn’t hesitate to pick it up.

    For those who haven’t seen it, you’re not missing out on much at all. There were times that I felt like ejecting the UMD and playing some Hot Shots Golf, but I stuck it out to the end. Sigh…

    But, this isn’t a movie review…this is a UMD review, and in that regards this UMD is great. Good extras, good sound, good video, good menus, and you even get an insert in the case. How nice.

    4/5
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  2. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    I enjoyed it for what it's worth and it might be worth checking out for Bale prior to his Batman Stint. It's Funny I just Converted this to the memory Stick the other day and It might be worth renting to compare the two. I'm wondering something thou and perhaps you can comment. I notice on my encodes, especially in Dark scenes I get some Color Smearing or tearing on the screen, this might also be connected to motion blur on the screen, do you notice it on the UMD's?
     
  3. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Its interesting...but the memory stick suffers from severe motion blur and color smears. Many have speculated that Sony did this on purpose to try to control DVD ripping.

    But the UMD fares much, much better. I saw a lot of memory stick movies, and compared to UMD...well, there is no comparison. [​IMG]

    Yeah, if you like the movie, you wont be disappointed in the UMD. Very good picture/sound quality.
     
  4. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

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