There is trouble in Izmer. With the emperor dead from an assassin's poison, the 16-year-old princess Savina (Thora Birch) inherits not just the throne but also the royal scepter, which has the power to command gold drago... more »ns. With a youthful idealism, she decides all people should be equal, from lowly commoners to the ruling-class, magic-wielding mages. This doesn't sit well with the mages, so Archmage Profion (Jeremy Irons) leads a revolt in the Council against Savina's rule, forcing her to relinquish the royal scepter. In order to maintain her power, she decides she needs the rod of Savrille, which can control red dragons. To retrieve it, she hires two bumbling thieves, Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans), and an apprentice mage (Zoe McLellan). The true trouble in Izmer is the fact that it's a poorly imagined world that cribs more from Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark than it does from the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game that shares its title. Director Courtney Solomon optioned the rights to the game in 1991, when he was 21, and should have spent the years since then drafting a coherent script. Mediocre special effects take precedence over story, and the actors try to make up for that by hamming it up. Irons, in particular, covers his embarrassment by chewing the scenery and spitting it out. Often unintentionally funny, Dungeons & Dragons is that fun kind of bad movie, whose cult status would be all but guaranteed if it weren't for a slow second act mired in the boring bumbling of the awkward thieves. Still, there are plenty of laughs to be had. --Andy Spletzer« less
"Well, folks, here it is- the movie we've all been waiting for. The only problem is, it's NOT the movie we've been waiting for. There must be some sort of mistake.All right, we're all big D&D fans, aren't we? That is, anyone that sits through this whole thing had better be one, or you'll probably need a 'remove paralysis' spell cast on you at the end of it. Anyone familiar with the franchise will know that the true power of D&D lies in the imagination, the development of characters, and plot- in that order of importance. Well, I suppose there is some sort of a plot mixed away in the screenplay, but it looks like someone cast 'blur' on that element of the film. Characterization? I suppose there was a hint of a romance between the hero and heroine (kissing and such, but nothing naughty), and yeah- there was the comic relief guy- who happened to be impaled and tossed off a wall much to the greater amusement of the audience. Other than that, your villains were obviously villains and your good guys were obviously good guys. Very black and white, plain, and childishly simple. Imagination? Naah.So we have a lot of dragons, I suppose, especially at the end. Boy was the firebreath flying in that part. Oddly enough, the city is still quite a city when they're done with their fireball frenzy. We should look up those architects for terror-proof buildings. The world is a completely new one, and no, that isn't a good thing. I have heard or read about a million suggestions that they redeem the D&D license on the silver screen by making a movie adaptation of Icewind Dale. I heartily agree. Not only did this new world lack the development of Faerun, but everything you did see in it seemed no different. Onward to the D&D aspects of it. If they had changed the title to something else, say- 'Attack of the Killer Fire-breathers,' you probably wouldn't be able to tell it was D&D. Okay, so the guy tells the girl that she's just a 'low level mage.' Cute, but that's where the game ends and the follies begin. There's some magic here and there that's recognizable- the mages chucking their fireballs at the end, and the dimension door that 'low level mage' is somehow able to cast even though it's a 4th level spell, which requires... okay, enough of that. Poor Snails just gets buried, no 'raise dead' or 'resurrection' for him. Then again, who wanted him back? I found myself actually cheering for the bad guys, which was unfortunate because they were all idiots. At least they were less stupid than the heroes, though. You get the feeling they're evil, but only when they feel like it. Obviously, they aren't aware of the experience penalty a change of alignment incurs on their character. As for the confrontations between the good and evil, they are so cliche it is painful. The hero just has to give up the thing-that-ends-the-world for the life of his girlfriend, but then *gasp* the evildoer double-crosses him! He lied! Son of a- ! My, my, it looks like we're going to need a sword duel to settle this. So, here is the debut of Dungeons & Dragons, that pinnacle of role playing games, now in movie format. If you haven't played the game before- or a computerized version of it- please do NOT think it's like the movie! No, it's really much better than that, because even the dumbest dungeon master in history could think up a more enjoyable adventure! For those of you that start shoveling popcorn the moment a special effect plays, maybe you'll get plenty of reconstituted butter sauce down on this one. Little kids, feel free to check it out, but unless your parents (heaven forbid) let you watch a PG-13 movie, you're probably going to have to wait until you come of age, and then you probably won't enjoy the movie anymore on account of your newfound measure of maturity. For those above age five, view at your own risk. It's a good thing I made my saving throw, or this thing would have polymorphed me into a poached egg."
Disappointment Reigns in Izmer!
Scott Bright | Grayslake, IL USA | 05/30/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Movie Summary: Two bumbling thieves stumble into the middle of a plot to overthrow the empress of Izmer. They decide to help a pretty student mage search for the rod of Savrille which will help the empress by letting her control the red dragons and thus defeat Archmage Profion who is leading the revolt against her.My Opinion: I was disappointed by D&D. I had even heard the bad reviews before seeing it, so I was prepared. When are they going to learn that special effects do not make up for a good story, characters, and plot. I am a huge fantasy and science fiction fan. I wanted so badly for this to be good, but the story just wasn't there. The plot was convoluted and hazy and the characters undeveloped. The humor was misused and poorly timed. The Saturday morning cartoon by the same name was far superior because it had good stories and characters (If you haven't seen any episodes of this one, watch for it. It's on from time to time). Basically the movie is just really disappointing to a fan. By using the name Dungeons and Dragons, they got our hopes up. What they delivered was eye candy.Ease Your Disappointment with Some of These Fantasy Movies: The Sword and the Sorcerer - The Never Ending Story - Return to OZ - The Beastmaster - Conan the Barbarian - Conan the Destroyer - Arabian Nights - Army of Darkness - Excalibur - The Princess Bride - Princess Mononoke - Time Bandits - Labyrinth - Krull - The Clash of the Titans - Goonies DVD Quality: Widescreen anamorphic, packed with all sorts of extras including trailers and deleted scenes. All DVD releases should be this great.What You Should Do: Rent it, then check out some of the other fantasy movies I mention."
Dung and a drag.
The Curmudgeon | Latveria | 03/29/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"OK, first things first true believers - The Curmudgeon is NOT a D&D fan. I've nothing against it or anything (I don't think it's nerdy or whatever), it's just never been my bag. But I was VERY excited when I saw this movie was being released. Why?
Simple - the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, which was by far the coolest cartoon of the 1980's. It smoked He-Man, Thundercats and any other contender and became one of THE best experiences of childhood. So while a movie based on the board game would have been cool, I was secretly hoping for a movie based on the cartoon. Come on - Hank and his flaming bow and arrow? Sarcastic Eric and his shield (you'd think the Dungeon Master would have thrown a SWORD in there too?), Bobby the Barbarian.. and let's not forget the uber bad-ass - Vengar himself. Let's face it folks - done right, it would have been AWESOME.
But we didn't get that - we got, well.. who knows? The plot is so incoherent and amateurish it could have been based on a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippo's. And whilst great acting is never the prime goal in these sorts of movies, special mention MUST go to the utter lack of any conviction the actors here have in their performances, coming across as just stepping out of a Snow White pantomime.
And then there's Jeremy Irons. Bit of a superb actor is our Jeremy, and I'm sure he thought at first he had signed up to a classy fantasy movie, thinking perhaps of Sir Alec Guiness in Star Wars. Then he read the script and saw the talentless monkeys he was working with and went full out into giving the worst performance of his entire career, not so much saying his lines as yelling them and spitting at the camera in an attempt to hide his embarrassment. Easily the best thing of the movie.
The producers obviously thought it was going to do well judging by its laughably hopeful ambiguous ending. Not a chance in hell, guys. You had your chance and you blew it with this dragon turd of a film.
Stick with the boxset of the cartoon, and see how fantasy really SHOULD be presented.
I haven't laughed this hard in ages.
Shadowfire | College Park, MD | 01/23/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"After a dark and ominous opening narration, we see a great mage's chamber, almost completely taken up by the standard Giant Twirling Machine (a la "Dark Crystal"). Cut to a wild-eyed Profion (Irons), who paces toward the camera and STARES. But wait! he's just staring at the machinery behind us. Lightning sparks, and the wheels spins faster: a wand is being charged. Profion extatically darts to the machine, plucks the scepter, and proclaims: "Yes! At last!""Release him!" Profion commands. A henchman gasps; he's never to be seen again. Henchmen spin flywheels. A grate is raised, revealing an irate dragon. The beast spits fire, causing henchmen to scatter. Cut to one tripping and falling. Cut to another catching fire. Profion points his wand and rasps: "You are mine now! Come to me!" His blue-lipped right-hand man looks on admiringly. Then the spell is broken and the dragon gets mad. Profion crushes the beast with a portcullis and covers his face in frustration. There's always another day.Thus begins a movie that does a disservice to the already-marred name of fantasy cinema, a genre with a "Conan" for every "Willow." "Dungeons & Dragons" is a relentlessly idiotic action-comedy that is best compared to Power Rangers: there's a lot of special effects and colorful scenery, but it's little more than computer-game grapics and some plastic armor on the orcs. To add insult, the movie has nothing to do with the game.Alright, I take that back: there are a few things. There's a tiny, meaningless cameo of a beholder; and a hold spell is mentioned (though it's performed with rope); even the kingdom of Izmer looks like something an amateur DM threw together.But all the nostalgia in the world won't prepare you for the "heroes": a young queen (Birch) who ambles about spouting populist nonsense ("I do declare that you now all equal!"); a pair of young enterprising thieves, Ripley (Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans), whose lingo and body language mark them as refugees from "Scary Movie"; an oddly mangy and gangly dwarf, whose function is to a) run around waving an axe and b) to furrow his brows disapprovingly; Marina (McClellan), who knows about three spells and, I guess, is supposed to be the love interest for one of the thieves (not Wayans); and, lastly, Norda the elfin seeker, who appears to have been shoe-horned into the movie. This sorry bunch has to travel to a distant ruin to recover the Wand of Red Dragon Control for reasons unknown to the viewer (the charaters teleport INTO a scroll, and reappear with their mission explained to them).Two questions inevitably arise: who lights the torches in the Antius Maze if no one's ever gotten through? and, more interestingly, how did Profion sneak that first dragon into the castle?In addition, the movie is infinitely quotable: "I've never seen a scroll so hard to decode! It's very ancient!" (just like a sage to say that) "You've gotta believe it, they're framing us." (a bit too modern, no?) and, perhaps the best, "Do not let them escape or you will suffer a fate far worse than that which has been inflicted upon me!" (try yelling that in one breath!).One scene is especially memorable: Ripley is surrounded by Damodar's troops, and decides to hold the scroll hostage by setting it on fire: "Clear the way and I'll put it out." The scroll catches fire - but doesn't burn.Oh, alright, one last one: as Ripley and Co. leave the elfin lands, two masked natives speak in gibberish in the movie's one scene with subtitles. "Does he know of his untapped potential?" one blurbles. "He soon will," replies another."
Another RPG'er adding his voice to the chorus
David Michael Cohen | California | 05/12/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Like many fans of the D&D game, I looked forward to the D&D movie with eager anticipation. Would it be based on Forgotten Realms? Dragonlance? Spelljammer maybe? But no, the movie was set in an original world, apparently unrelated to the published settings the gamers are most familar with. "That's not so bad" I thought, "A lot of original campaigns are very imaginative and compelling." Unfortunately, this movie was neither. The low points of this movie have been repeated again and again by other reviewers, but I echo them as valid. The characterization was abominable. Birch's empress was screechy and pouty, hardly giving the impression of a strong ruler with revolutionary ideas. Irons' villian was embarrassingly hammy. The dwarf is so poorly characterized he doesn't even seem to have a name, he is simply known as "the dwarf." The worst perfomance, however, was handed in by Wayans. His cowardly, incompetent "comic relef" harkened back to the African-American stereotypes featured in movies from the 30's and 40's. All he needed to say was "yassa" or "feets don't fail me now." to complete the picture. The worst thing about this movie, however, was how the writers gave a token nod to the game without capturing any of its depth or details. Fans of the game are supposed to recognize the beholder in one scene which is employed as a watchdog (and an incompetent one at that). An audience member who would recognize a beholder, however, would also realize how ridiculous it is for one to occupy that role! Likewise the dragons are basically an effect on the screen. We are given no hint that dragons posses personalities, intelligence or any sense of granduer. The movie basically treats them as flying war machines.I could go on and on about the movies' difficiencies, including the sloppy editing and the plot which perfectly fails to draw the viewers in, but that would be belaboring the point. Suffice it to say that this movie is best forgotten, except by those who are convinced that D&D is a tool of Satan. I advise them to show their flocks this movie, as it gives the venerable hobby a very bad name."