Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Dungeons And Dragons (2000)

I'm surprised I heard way more bad things about this.

Ah 2000, when fantasy was still considered box office bombs, CG quality was here and there, and Dungeons And Dragons was still underground. Apparently the director got the rights from TSR to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie but it took a decade to garner the necessary funds with mixed success. Considering this is based on a role playing game where anything can happen and there isn't necessarily a plot aside from campaign stories that could probably be adapted with ease, it gives a tremendous freedom of storytelling because you can make up any story, characters, and progression you want. Now though they sprinkle references of the game into the movie, the film does feel very fantasy standard which is a bit of a tricky double edged sword. How do you make a fantasy movie feel authentically D&D? Cause the whole basis and inspiration for it was classic fantasy literature like Tolkien and fairy tales, so it easily falls into this trap. But I did not hate the movie! I actually wonder how it got such a negative reputation because in all truth and honesty it's not bad. It has some elaborate and big sets with some neat period costuming and props with a good amount of practical effects. The acting can be a bit broad but mostly commited and decent even with Jeremy Irons being the best part of the movie period just chewing the scenery and milking the lines. The story is a bit cookie cutter where two thieves get embroiled in a political power struggle between an empress and a court mage, and they eventually meet a young lady sorcerer named Marina, a dwarf named Elwood, an elf named Norda, and have to contend with baddies on their trail as they search for a mystic relic which can help end the conflict. Now one thing I simply cannot forgive and what kind of makes this a bad D&D in one respect is, our party comes across several situations whether it be a deadly maze for a treasure, sneaking into an enemy castle, or trekking into a dungeon to complete the quest but the part that irks me so severely is only our main character Ridley does really any of it. And that's just so not Dungeons & Dragons, even to a hardcore newcomer like me, the point is to get a bunch of characters in a scenario and see what they do in a story sense, but in a real world sense the game has a tremendous community feeling where you and a group of friends combine your skills and knowledge to overcome problems in fun and interesting ways. It's just so...dull watching a thief maneuver a trap maze or dungeon crawl when the rest of the party sits it out! Have the sorcerer use spells to progress through the maze while the elf does a bunch of evasion parkour shit to avoid traps, have the dwarf slay monsters while the thief makes it to the treasure room for the relic, this isn't complicated stuff! I suppose it's a decent fantasy movie but a sub par D&D movie, and maybe that's why people hate this movie so. It's not a complete mess, there's just off things about it. Marlon Wayans is a weird ass casting decision for this movie as the comic relief Snails, but he's enjoying himself and not completely grating. Friggin' Jeremy Irons and Bruce Payne are the villains and that is a sight that must be seen, cause the movie gets real interesting when they are on screen. The dragons and bits of scenery are not great in the CGI department, but it ain't no Mortal Kombat Annihilation either, and it's just a means of telling the story so it's fine. Our heroes you could entirely argue the only ones worth a damn are Ridley and Marina and you would be right! I'm very split on this movie, cause it ain't bad but nor is it very good. Sooooo....average. 2.5 stars, 5.5/10. It's been 20 years, so let's see if the movie idea has aged like wine or milk next time.

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