Friday, November 14, 2008

A movie with literary themes

Today, a review, not of a book, but a movie. A good guy movie with strong themes.

Reign of Fire from Spyglass Entertainment
The makers of this film present the plot thusly: “In the year 2024, highly evolved dragons are the dominant species left on the planet. Only a few human beings exist. A brave Englishman, Quinn, and his followers battle for survival against the creatures, taking refuge in an abandoned castle. They unexpectedly encounter American dragon-slayer Van Zan and his rag-tag squad, who are planning a dangerous crusade to post-apocalyptic London to fight the dragons.”
It is a fair description of the movie but, like most of the advertising for the film, sets aside the strengths of the film in favor of concentrating on special effects. That is not to say that the movie does not have a pleasant level of violence and explosions, it does. The dragons are truly frightening and the sets are impressive. What was lost in the hype is that the movie is not primarily about dragon fighting and destruction.
The real theme of the movie is about leadership, strong male leadership. Both men, Quinn and Van Zan, are noble men and responsible leaders, driven by honor and duty. When their two styles of addressing the same problem collide, then the real conflict of the movie comes to the fore. The dragons are the vehicle, not the purpose. The movie is very well written, extremely well acted, and skillfully produced. The special effects are clean and more than sufficiently dramatic.
If you want to see the movie for the big lizards and widespread destruction, you will not be disappointed but if you are looking for a film with real depth and strong masculine themes, then you will find in Reign of Fire a rare treasure.

(This review original written and published in Kilimanjaro magazine, reprinted with permission.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day, 2008

How do you say "thank you" for something you can barely even understand? Oh, we think we know, that we understand what it's like to go to war but those who haven't can't, not completely. It's not just the old line of "being willing to die for your country"; it's about being willing to kill for it as well. It's about being scared and cold and hungry and bored and confused...always confused. The fighting is better than the waiting in a lot of ways. Short of quoting Kipling's Snarleyow, what can really be said?


Thank you.

Thank you to every man that takes up arms to protect our nation. To those who volunteer, to those who join in peacetime and find themselves suddenly at war, to those who were pulled unwillingly by a draft--we don't care why you went. It is enough that you did. Thank you. For those who never fired a shot, whose entire time was spent in "peace", for nevertheless making the sacrifice and facing the risks full on. Thank you. To every husband, wife, child, mother, father, sibling--to everyone who keeps the homefront while the others are away. To every medic, contractor, USO worker, and the million-and-one "civilians" who serve as well. To the children who will never know their grandfathers and fathers who gave sons. To those who keep their experiences secret and refuse to speak of those dark times and to those who speak freely and with pride. To all and every veteran, past, present, and unflinchingly future.

Thank you.