DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
Have you, like me, been more than well aware of the phenomenon known as Dungeons & Dragons for eons, but have yet to dip your toe into that pool of wonder and imagination? Well, take it from me, the 2000 feature length film adaption is for sure not the ideal gateway…in fact it’s probably the worst gateway imaginable. Am I saying you should avoid it at all costs? Oh no, I still recommend giving this one a watch, because wow…just wow…it’s sure something else.
After the most bare-bones narrated introduction that does nothing to get you sucked in or fired up, we are introduced to the star of the show, Jeremy Irons as Lord Prothean, who is beautifully over the top. The way he speaks is almost as random and disjointed as the likes of Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum, not to mention he constantly looks to be on the brisk of orgasm with his facial expressions, and abruptly switches back and forth between these bizarre raspy whispers and mental top-of-his-lungs yells. I think it’s safe to say that Irons single-handedly killed the art of subtlety in this performance.
Bruce Payne as Damodar is equally silly but for different reasons, as he talks dead slowly in this borderline sexual deep voice, to the point where you can’t help but giggle. He’s so entertaining for the wrong reasons, but seriously why is he wearing blue lipstick? Why, just why?
Thora Birch, bless her, I’ve liked her in many a film, such as American Beauty, Ghost World and especially Hocus Pocus, but she’s quite stodgy here unfortunately. She’s supposed to be an empress, and we’re supposed to be on her side, but she has no sense of authority whatsoever. How am I meant to take her seriously as someone large and in charge? I can’t.
Ridley is a bland protagonist doesn’t offer much, and as for Marlon Wayans as Snails, aside from being the epitome of miscast, is annoyingly unbearable to the point of being unlikeable and unsympathetic.
Marina is also particularly bland with virtually no character development apart from a throwaway line about wanting more, the dwarf comes out of freaking nowhere and is roped in no particular reason, and the elf, while cool looking, doesn’t offer much else, although Richard O’Brien makes a brief appearance as Xilus, leader of the thieves, and is a saving grace as he’s jolly good fun in his short but sweet outing.
The visual effects look ripped right from a TV movie, and that’s being generous. There are these multiple sweeping shots of castles, but the obvious fakery ruins whatever they are going for, and the dragons are downright adorable. You’d think with all that budget in their back pocket, you’d think they could create something passable.
Even on a practical level, it’s subpar. Aside from a couple of nice looking places, a lot of the sets are dull, lifeless and cheap looking, as well as quite cramped, with not much scale to them. The average cinematography doesn’t help in that matter, resulting in a poor show for what’s supposed to be this big fantasy epic.
The writing is ludicrous and defies logic when it’s not being simply uninteresting, and the plot tends goes back forth and all about, creating a total flip-flopped mess dotted with pointless, badly executed commentary about social class and the like.
The action is disappointing; being clumsily shot and choreographed; the pacing is inconsistent, the music is okay but mostly uninspired, and there’s not much in the way of originality; the whole maze sequence is a flat out rip off of Indiana Jones. There are not even shy about hiding it, it’s so blatant.
The amount of crazy moments is off the chart too. Every two minutes, I’m asking myself what I’m watching, and that’s not even taking the more nutty acting performances into account, and the climax is a phenomenally deranged drug trip and a half.
Overall, this is a medieval trainwreck that barely resembles the source material that it’s based on, and it’s such an amateur production that wastes money which could have went into a more worthwhile project, but that’s also the beauty of it. It’s one of the ultimate so bad it’s good flicks, where you can’t help but just love and laugh at the sheer stupidity of it all, and it’s like that from start to finish, from the ridiculous acting, to the laughable effects, to the brain-numbing logic.
The Dungeons and Dragons movie is advertised as more than just a game, and they’re right, it’s a gloriously puerile experience that brings us heaps of misguided delight.