STARRING: Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Thora
Birch, Zoe McLellan, Kristen Wilson, Lee Arenberg, Bruce Payne, Richard
2000, 105 Minutes, Directed by: Courtney Solomon
Description: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
dragons. 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).
Proof that sometimes dedication can be a scary thing.
Dungeons & Dragons director Courtney Solomon liked the role-playing
game so much that he bought the movie rights to it when he was 19 years old. The
next ten years he spent looking for suckers, er I mean, backers for the
I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons (is this game still popular or
has it been superseded by the likes of Magic – the Gathering?), but
there is nothing in this 2000 screen adaptation to make me change my mind.
Instead it seems to prove that not only does computer games make for bad
movies, but so does any other type of game.
Chances are fans of the game would also be embarrassed by
this movie. Maybe because it seems to be more inspired by the likes of
Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark
than any fantasy-based game. But like I’ve said, I’ve never played the
game: the movie’s problem could also be that it is too true to its source
material. I don’t know.
Dungeons & Dragons is funny in a so-bad-it’s-good
First, the acting is over-the-top, particularly Jeremy Irons whose
over-the-top acting makes Lance Henriksen’s turn in
Knights (which I’ve recently seen) look
like the very model of restraint in comparison. Irons is so over the top
that I often found myself merrily chuckling in mirth. Okay, the dialogue
consists of terrible clunkers so Irons probably decided to have some fun.
In retrospect he is the best thing in the entire movie. As Jessica Rabbit
said of Roger Rabbit: he makes me laugh.
Second, the special effects (and make no mistake this film
is driven by them) are particularly bad with CGI effects that are so
obviously fake that it looks like some cheap computer game from the
previous century. Particularly the climax with dragons battling it out
with wizards (called mages in this pic) is let down by cheesy CGI
reminiscent of the type we saw in Spawn.
Third, it isn’t particularly original, but at least the
production designs are better than expected and Dungeons & Dragons
doesn’t drag on for too long (the second half does get a bit long-winded
though). Nor does it spend too much time on endless board meetings and a
wooden unbelievable love affair. There, I’ve said it: I still like it
better than Attack of the Clones . . .