Saturday, February 28, 2015

Movie Review: Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Bruce Payne, Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Robert Miano, Tomas Havrlik, Thora Birch, Edward Jewesbury, Zoe McLellan, Lee Arenberg, Kristen Wilson, Martin Astles, Matthew O'Toole, David O'Kelly, Richard O'Brien, Kia Jam, Nicolas Rochette, David Mandis, Robert Henny, Stanislav Ondricek, Roman Hemala, Tom Baker, Andrew Blau, Marta Urbanová, Jirí Machácek
Director: Courtney Solomon 
New Line Cinema, Behaviour Worldwide, MDP Worldwide, Silver Pictures, Station X Studios, Stillking Films, Sweetpea Entertainment, USA, Czech Republic, 2000.
Dungeons & Dragons title
First I must make a confession: I never played the original D&D pen & paper games. However I have played many of the computer game versions and read many D&D fantasy novels so I should know at least the basics of the D&D mechanics, monsters and universe. 
Jeremy Irons
Bad mage Profion
Bruce Payne
In the empire of Izmer an evil mage Profion (Jeremy Irons) and other mages oppress the common people. Empress Savina (Thora Birch) wants everyone to be equal. Profion has other plans so he tries to create a sceptre that controls the golden dragons but fails. Two thieves Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans) plan to rob the Magic School. Profion urges the Mages Council to dethrone the Empress unless she gives her own dragon sceptre to Profion.
Justin Whalin and Marlon Wayans
Ridley and Snails
Thora Birch and Edward Jewesbury
Empress Savina and Vildan
Zoe McLellan
Apprentice mage Marina
The Empress has a trusted mage friend Vildan (Edward Jewesbury) who suggests searching for the rod of Savrille that can control red dragons. Profion sends blue-lipped Damodar (Bruce Payne) to get the map. Meanwhile apprentice mage Marina (Zoe McLellan) catches the thieves but has to run away with them when Damodar attacks the magical library and murders Vildan. Along comes also a dwarf named Elwood (Lee Arenberg). At some point Marina loses her glasses and opens her hair. This gains her more charisma points in the eyes of Ridley, but Marina seems to forget all her spells also. Later the heroes encounter also an elf law enforcer Norda (Kristen Wilson).
Lee Arenberg
Zoe McLellan
Marina loses her glasses and also her magical skills
Kristen Wilson
Ridley must get the Eye of the Dragon from thieves guild maze. Only the Eye opens a door to the tomb where the rod of Savrille is. Wily Thieves Guild leader Xilus (Richard O'Brien) says that no one has surived the maze alive. The maze is full of deadly traps, this part of the film actually is the first time that looks somehow related to D&D. The second time comes later as there is a short scene with Beholder, that flying one-eyed blob with eye stalks. The Beholder acts like a hired guard instead of being a cavern dwelling powerful magic-using monster. Killing those blobs in "Eye of the Beholder" games was always a dangerous task, so luckily the inexperienced characters of the film do not have to battle those.
Richard O'Brien
Xilus seems trustworthy guy. Not.
Maze is full of traps
Beholder unnaturally co-operating with humans
Later in the film there are some not bad sword fights, more dungeon crawling, mage fights and dragon fights, so the last half hour is a bit better than the first hour. Also Marina gets some of her spellcasting skills back. This is stupid script writing, in the beginning Marina casts a cool magic lasso spell and stuns half dozen enemies with a powerful spell, but then forgets her spellcasting abilities for the most part of the movie. The logic of the movie is long lost and the movie is almost spoofing itself, proper name would be "Role Playing Game Movie". 
Heroes stop to read the map
Dragon battles look cool
The movie throws the D&D-mythology out the window. In one bar the customers are human, some weird races and orcs. Orcs are common enemies in D&D games, so what are they doing in a human bar? Later there is a three-eyed purple guy (David O'Kelly), what is he? I think he was called hyphen in the movie, but quickly searching D&D races from the web gives no clue. The point is that it would be nice if the movie based on game with a rich lore could use some recognisable and iconic monsters and find them better use than just as semi-parodic backdrops. 
What is this purple guy?
The dragon effects look nice. The movie actually has some nice scenes (the maze, treasure lair and partially the end battle) but the negative sides win easily. Snails is annoyingly stupid character, who makes even Jar Jar Binks look like a genius. At one scene he steals a stuffed cat, what the heck is going on? I think Marlon Wayans has always been playing similar idiot characters. As far as I can recollect the only movie that I liked his performance was in "Requiem for a Dream." Also other actors have probably been given orders to overact as much as possible. Just look at Jeremy Irons:
Jeremy Irons
Bwahaha! I'm Bad!
The movie tag line "This is no game" should be taken as a warning: this is not the Dungeons & Dragons the gamers love. 

Rating: Bad


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