DUNGEONS & DRAGONS – The On-Screen Mental Breakdown Of Jeremy Irons

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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.

THE PRINCE OF EGYPT – Delivering Us An Unsung Masterpiece

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THE PRINCE OF EGYPT


I’m sure most of us have a certain film or films that we consider disgustingly underrated and wish more people would check out and talk about. I have a few myself, with my list including Ed Wood, Living In Oblivion, and today’s subject – The Prince Of Egypt – released by Dreamworks in 1998, which I without hesitation think highly of as one of the best animated films of the past quarter century.

It tells the story of Moses from the book of Exodus, a tale most will be at the very least aware of, told to us through a really engaging plot that’s pretty straightforward, so audiences both old and especially young; the latter being the demographic it’s targeted at; should find it easy to follow, but that’s not to say it’s basic and simplistic. On the contrary, this movie is packed with heaps of depth and detail.

Val Kilmer takes the helm of Moses, who is solid at first but quickly improves and becomes a brilliant character who goes through an arc of various stages, and Kilmer reflects each of these stages nicely; a rambunctious young man, a lost soul, a content shepherd, a leader of the people; his development is fascinating, and I’m with him all the way.

Ralph Fiennes as Ramses is very complex. Determined not to be the weak link, he shows a vast range of emotions in his internal struggle; stubbornness, ignorance, hunger for power, over confidence, disgust, vengeance; he just runs the gamut, and all of these elements really come across in both the drawings and Ralph Fiennes’ outstanding performance. It’s one of my favourite of his, and one doesn’t get enough credit for, another damn fine notch in his storied career.

There’s such a strong conflict running through Moses and Ramses. Because they grew up as brothers, they share a fierce bond and that gets in the way of both men’s actions when they meet face to face, as they evidently both wish for the past, nostalgia running wild as they reminisce the old days. All this adds an extra layer to the situation, with regretful emotional attachment playing a big factor.

The supporting cast wonderful is too, including Michelle Pfieffer, Patrick Stewart, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldbum, Steve Martin and Martin Short. It’s a loaded ensemble, who all feel like meaningful choices with nobody seeming out of place.

One thing I like is that the film never feels too in your face preachy or shoved down your throat at all in regards to the religious content. It’s perfectly balanced, so no matter if you are a person of faith or not, it doesn’t overshadow anything. With or without religious context, the story is still good and that’s most important.

As for the animation? Good lord, this film is gorgeous. There’s such a vivid scale, where the team really take advantage of both 2D hand-drawn and 3D computer designs, blending them together to produce stunning set pieces featuring rich lighting, sharp shadows and intense colour contrast.

It’s just unbelievable, fitting for something of an epic calibre, and aside from a couple of moments where it can noticeably look a touch shabby, the character and camera movements are for the most part so slick and fluent.

The music is glorious too. The score composed by the one and only Han Zimmer is fittingly large, and the selection of songs are real good too, from the palpable Deliver Us to the utterly catchy Heaven’s Eyes.

The film contains so many sublime scenes that are pretty memorable, and quite a few especially stand out to me. For example, there’s the dream sequence, done in a traditional Egyptian artistic fashion, it’s very unique and looks spectacular, and they don’t do it simply to be stylish, it actually serves a purpose in showing Moses the truth about his past.

The burning bush moment is so magnetic and flooding with atmosphere that it makes the desired impact, selling it effectively through Moses’ reactions, and the accompanying music track is beautifully lush; in fact, one of my favourite instrumental pieces from a film ever.

The plagues scene is so grand and epic, but holy moly, the first born sequence is hands down one of the most fiercely spine chilling, goosebump-inducing things that I’ve ever witnessed in a film. It’s the moment that really sealed the deal for me and elevated this from really good to extraordinary, and it transitions seamlessly into When We Believe, an absolutely sweet number, and between these two moments, it’s 10-15 minutes of pure perfection.

Wow, so it’s obvious that I had a lot to say, and for good reason. Prince Of Egypt is a powerful experience, and if it’s something you’ve not watched as of yet, then you’re doing yourself a major injustice.

By a country mile, it’s best Dreamworks animated movie ever, In fact, to be brutally honest and perhaps controversial, I find it better than at least half or maybe even two thirds of all Disney animated features, and to further stoke fuel to that fire, I genuinely believe this stamps a more provoking impression than The Ten Commandments epic starring Charlton Heston.

I have very little issue with Prince Of Egypt, and it’s a real shame it doesn’t get more recognition, because in my mind it is an underestimated masterpiece, One of the best of its kind to have emerge in the last few decades, and its impact will undoubtedly stay with me for decades to come.