You wouldn’t think you could destroy the world by digging a subway tunnel, but that’s what happens to the London crew that inadvertently awakens a race of long-hibernating dragons in Reign of Fire (pictured). A small band of survivors eventually figures out how to defeat the flying, fire-breathing lizards, but they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they’d just watched Peter Jackson’s movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. In Middle-earth, the relentless pursuit of progress, wealth, and power often summons or awakens ancient, fiery monsters. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the dragon Smaug is attracted by the mineral wealth dug up by the dwarves. (What follows is apparent from the title of the upcoming installment, The Desolation of Smaug.)
In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, dwarf miners unwittingly rouse an ancient flame-demon, the Balrog, and they bring down on their own heads an army of goblins and trolls. The wizard Saruman despoils the forest to build his army, but the forest gets its revenge. And Sauron, he of the flaming eye, has a ring that could give him power over the world, but only at the cost of making the rest of the world a smoking ash-heap just like Mordor.
The ring is like a nuclear arsenal, a weapon no one can use without ending the world. The modern-day dragon-fighters of Reign of Fire may have contemporary technology (radios, helicopters), but the old-school threat of human corruption remains as great a peril as ever.
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