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Fans of Jurassic Park Should Watch This Forgotten Christian Bale Movie – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Fans of Jurassic Park Should Watch This Forgotten Christian Bale Movie



Dinosaurs have always been at the top of the list when it comes to large, scary animals. This was proven in the 1993 smash hit Jurassic Park, which left an indelible mark on the industry with its fascinating special effects and realistic beasts. However, another movie attempted to cash in on the giant, scary lizard film years later. That movie was 2002’s epic dragon film, Reign of Fire.

When Jurassic Park hit theaters, it wasn’t just a hit, it was a mega-crazy, ultra-industry-melting hit. Its use of ILM’s creative teams and new types of technical know-how made for one of the most visually realistic monster movies of all time. Gone were the days of Ray Harryhausen and his stop-motion creations. In one instant, nearly the entire special effects industry was thrown into disarray. Not just that, but the storytelling was something people wanted to see. The film was based on the book by Michael Crichton. This is important because the rights to the novel were purchased well before it was even published. Steven Spielberg was so excited that he was able to get Universal Studios (known for their monsters) to back him and buy the rights for $1.5 million, with Crichton hired to adapt his novel for an additional $500,000. It was a wise investment, as the movie went on to make over $1 billion worldwide.

Reign of Fire, on the other hand, was a film that asked the question, “what if dragons were real and what would happen if they came back?” Starring Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, and Gerard Butler, it had all the hallmarks of a great action/monster movie in a year when films like Attack of the Clones, Minority Report, and 8 Mile were ruling the box office. Despite bringing in only $82 million on a $60 million budget, it was still one of the most testosterone-infused films of the year.

Unlike Jurassic Park, Reign of Fire is not a film with creatures that need to be saved and protected. Rather, these are vicious killing machines that have wiped out most of humanity. Quinn desperately wants to stay put and keep his people safe even as they run out of food, while Van Zan wants nothing more than to destroy. This entire film shows the power struggle between the fight-or-flight response.

Reign of Fire reminds audiences that what they loved about Jurassic Park was the dinosaurs and the danger. No one is making the argument for saving these creatures. It’s them or us, and we don’t plan on losing. If you enjoyed Jurassic Park but felt it wasn’t quite high-octane enough, Reign of Fire is the ass-kicking, growling man movie you want. It rips the screen apart in grays and bright orange. McConaughey, in particular, is chewing scenery as much as he is his cigars.

In conclusion, while Jurassic Park and Reign of Fire are both films about large, scary animals, they are vastly different in their storytelling and themes. Jurassic Park is about saving and protecting the creatures, while Reign of Fire is about the power struggle between humans and dragons. Both films have left their mark on the industry and continue to be enjoyed by audiences worldwide.

In the world of large scary animals, dinosaurs are very much at the top of the list. This was proven in the 1993 smash hit Jurassic Park. The film left an indelible mark on the industry with fascinating special effects and realistic beasts.



But another movie showed up years later, attempting to cash in on the giant scary lizard film. That film was 2002’s epic dragon film, Reign of Fire.



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The Legacy of Jurassic Park

A man distracting a dinosaur with a flare
Universal Pictures

When Jurassic Park hit theaters, it wasn’t a hit. It was a mega-crazy, ultra-industry-melting hit. Its use of ILM’s creative teams and new types of technical know-how made for one of the most visually realistic monster movies of all time. Gone were the days of Ray Harryhausen and his stop-motion creations. In one instant, nearly the entire special effects industry was thrown into disarray.

Not just that, but the storytelling was something people wanted to see. The film was based on the book by Michael Crichton. This is important because the rights to the novel were purchased well before it was even published. Steven Spielberg was so excited that he was able to get Universal Studios (known for their monsters) to back him and buy the rights for $1.5 million, with Crichton hired to adapt his novel for an additional $500,000. It was a wise investment, as the movie went on to make over $1 billion worldwide.

Related: Jurassic Park Was a Masterpiece, But It Never Should’ve Been a Franchise

The film follows a group of scientists, researchers, and two plucky kids who are invited to a remote island where an eccentric billionaire has created a nature preserve/park featuring real, genetically-engineered dinosaurs. Then the power goes out, and all hell breaks loose. It’s a thrill ride that spawned video games, toys, and a number of sequels. It also created a world where people expected a level of special effects that, at the time, only certain studios could provide.

What Is Reign of Fire?

The Reign of Fire (2002)
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

In 2002, there was an idea. That idea was simple: What if dragons were real, and what would happen if they came back? This was the premise for Touchstone Pictures’ Reign of Firea film starring Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, and Gerard Butler. It had all the hallmarks of a great action/monster movie in a year when films like Attack of the Clones, Minority Reportand 8 Mile were ruling the box office. It was a bit of a disappointment, bringing in only $82 million on a $60 million budget.

The film wasn’t a huge hit with critics or audiences, but it was one of the most testosterone-infused films of the year. The film follows Quinn Abercromby (Bale), who, as a young boy, witnesses the reemergence of a long-dormant dragon in the center of London. Years later, in a castle surrounded by land decimated by dragons, he attempts to keep a large group of people safe.

Into this mix literally flies Denton Van Zan (McConaughey), a bald, greasy, sweaty American in a military helicopter with a group of mercenaries. The group has one mission: to take down dragons. They aim to find the one male that has created this new race of destructive creatures. It turns out Quinn knows where it is because he watched it emerge years before.

The two men form a difficult team up to journey into the heart of London, a place no one has entered because it is the center of dragon activity. They seek out the male in order to destroy the monsters once and for all.

Why Is Reign of Fire a Must-Watch?

Reign of Fire takes the “what happens if monsters came back” question and adds literal fuel to the fire. No longer will we watch people observing dangerous, giant creatures. Now, we will watch crazy paramilitary soldiers leap out of a helicopter to land on the backs of flying dragons to take them down by hand.

They make a big point of talking about the fact that these Archangels (the ones who jump) are told they have a lifespan of only 17 seconds. It is the amount of time it takes from leaping to figuring out if you’ve landed on the dragon or if the dragon has killed you.

Related: Christian Bale’s Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes Score

This entire film shows the power struggle between the fight-or-flight response. Quinn desperately wants to stay put and keep his people safe even as they run out of food, while Van Zan wants nothing more than to destroy. Unlike Jurassic Park, these are not creatures that need to be saved and protected. These are vicious killing machines that have wiped out most of humanity.

If you enjoyed Jurassic Park but felt it wasn’t quite high-octane enough, Reign of Fire is the ass-kicking, growling man movie you want. It rips the screen apart in grays and bright orange. McConaughey, in particular, is chewing scenery as much as he is his cigars. The film is not meant to be a cerebral journey into the mind of science gone wrong. It is a film with the knowledge that Jurassic Park started something it wants to finish.

Reign of Fire reminds audiences that what they loved about Jurassic Park was the dinosaurs and the danger. No one is making the argument for saving these creatures. It’s them or us, and we don’t plan on losing.

Reign of Fire is available for streaming on Prime Video.

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