Thursday, June 13, 2013

I'm a Doer! Reign of Fire's Denton Van Zan

"It's my territory.  It's your territory.  They're just renting it."

(Gravelly announcer voice) It is the year 2020, the Earth has been ravaged by dragons; the soaring, fire breathing menace of lore.  Mankind has nearly gone extinct, survivors live quietly among ruins and ash.  One man seeks to preserve life while another seeks to eradicate a species.  It is, the Reign of Fire.

"There's nothing magical about them, they're made up of a collection of organs; a mind, a heart, a liver, you take out one of these, you bring down the beast!"

I remember seeing this flick upon release on my birthday in 2002 and thinking what a ridiculous bad ass Matthew McConaughey was as the bald headed, yoked out, tatted up dragon slayer Denton Van Zan.  Christian Bale is also fine in his role as the peaceful, logical leader of a group of survivors, Quinn, but McCon took the flashier role and ran with it.  He's brash, physical and driven, like To Live and Die In LA's Richard Chance, Van Zan was one who lived by the sword and would die by the sword (or in this case, a dragon and an axe).  It was a nice departure from McConaughey who previously played nice opposite Jennifer Lopez in the rom-com, The Wedding Planner.

"Dig your own holes, die in them."

What's fun about these characters is that you know they're not going to be the reasonable voice of the picture or even make it to the end but they will invigorate those around them and force them to act.  In Reign of Fire, Van Zan's sudden appearance, dragon theories and man power demands force semi-pacifist Quinn to confront his fear of the beasts and attempt to obliterate them once and for all.  His notion that there is only one male in the species leads to an ill fated trek to London to hunt down the big daddy.  After his forces are wiped out, Van Zan realizes his full throttle, fight hard, die fast style of warfare will not advance the human race (it is good at getting the blood pumping though).  With the help of Bale's calm and collected Quinn, they sneak into London undetected and feed papa Dragon an explosive Popsicle but not before he eats Van Zan like a bug.

To prepare for the role, McConaughey says he spent two months at his ranch getting in shape by pushing a truck, wrestling with cows, lifting weights, running and boxing.  Allegedly, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was in talks to appear in the film so it's ironically appropriate that McConaughey took a page from The Oak and played the role with physical gusto.

"Come on, big boy!"

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