Directed by Rob Bowman, starring Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey and Izabella Scorupco.

Earth 2020 and mankind is in hiding. Awoken from a millennium-plus slumber, dragons have done flame jobs on every major city, leaving just pockets of survivors. Among them is Quinn (Bale), a born leader who has created an underground community in the North of England. His own history with the beasts stretching back to childhood, Quinn knows the war is lost and now wants to convince the group that all they have left is each other. That is until a bunch of soldiers roll across the mountains, led by the unhinged Van Zan (McConaughey) and backed up by gunship pilot Alex (Scorupco). Quinn is urged to fight back and buy into Van Zan's theory that there is one all-powerful dragon that represents the secret to wiping them all out. But when Van Zan begins to assume a greater role in the camp, Quinn has to figure out just who is the real enemy.

Shot on location in Ireland but looking every bit the post-apocalyptic popcorn muncher, 'Reign of Fire' is another worthy addition to what's turning into a real bumper year for fantasy fans. Bowman previously directed the 'X-Files' movie and countless episodes, but 'Reign of Fire' finds him in gung-ho, scream-first-ask-questions-later territory.

Inevitably the plot is secondary to the dragons, but Bowman does a fine job with the tension, building up the back story and then plunging you straight into the clash of egos between Bale's Quinn and McConaughey's Van Zan. Before this movie, neither actor would be the first name you'd think of for an action hero, but both do well: Bale as the thoughtful charismatic leader and the Texan as a Colonel Kurtz style nutter who looks like he's one tattoo away from auditioning for Slayer.

The letdown here is not the sets or CGI but the length, as Bowman needed to come up with an extra half-hour to really turn up the heat. You can forgive the plot holes (like how did Van Zan & Co make it across the Atlantic and where do they get their fuel from?), but it's harder to accept the anti-climax ending. It feels rushed and predictable and both Bale and McConaughey deserved the scope to really let the sparks fly.

Still if well-miffed dragons, London (actually Ringsend) in cinders, medium rare sky-diving soldiers and well-done extras can't get you into the cinema then you're probably one of those people who were never fascinated by matches as a child.

Harry Guerin