Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Bad Script & Terrible Special Effects

I saw the new D&D movie, Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God, on the Scifi Channel over the weekend. It suffered from a very low Charisma score that could not keep me entertained. As a fan of D&D and other role-playing games (see http://www.roleplay.org/ if you don’t know what a role-playing game is), I was actually looking forward to this film. Unfortunately, the dream was better than the reality.

The Good:

Kudos for the references to D&D rule mechanics (the barbarian with the rage problem, the teleportation limitation, spell slots, and having a D&D style cleric). Even more Kudos for the clever introduction of the barbarian and the terrible, but yet slightly humorous, fate of the wizard’s familiar. Triple Kudos for the excellent acting skills of Mark Dymond as Berek and Clemency Burton-Hill as Melora who both somehow managed to pull off some terrible dialog, and somehow added depth to otherwise depthless characters. Ditto for Bruce Payne as Damodar. Damodar wasn’t written as badly as Profion from the first movie, but Damodar was nowhere near as cool as he was in the first film (although that wasn’t apparently the same character…now I’m confused).

The Bad:

The script for this sequel is poor. I actually liked the first film, in a sort of that’s campy but worth watching on DVD "kind of way." I would probably give the first film a C.

But this second film was less campy, but more booorriiinnnggg. I’ll take campy any day over a 2.5 hour television movie that moves at a snail's pace. Ok, I’m going to sound like a cliché, but where was the bad guy’s “motivation.” Damodar comes back to life and the first thing he wants to do is destroy everything and rule over its ashes? OK. And that darn Lich. A – it was cool that they added a major creature from D&D (plus they also had a Magmin), but B – I don’t understand why he did anything he did. The “I’m evil” excuse just really isn’t good enough.

I’m also confused by the script. It almost appears that the film was originally going to be tied directly into the first film, but then it got hacked to pieces. For example, Damodar (who has the same name and is played by the same actor as the character in the first film) apparently isn’t the Damodar from the first film. At first Damodar says he was turned into an undead due to a curse by his master which activated when Damodar died. That doesn’t conflict with the first film, but then we find out that this Damodar died by accidentally teleporting into a wall. So…apparently not Damodar from the first film. Not to mention, this Damodar fought like a wussy Halfling, so he is definitely not the same kick ass Damodar from the first film.

I also thought, at first, that the two main characters (Berek and Melora) were the two main characters from the first film years later. Not so, but they sure seem similar… Perhaps that had been the original plan.

It may be just me, but this whole film seemed like a game session converted into a script. It even had a random encounter...those pesky bandits. Although having a game session turned into a movie is cool in a fanboy sort of way, it doesn't really make for a very good movie.

The setting for this film is generic (why not use Krynn, Faerûn, or Eberron), the characters have no depth (unlike characters from many of the Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, or Ravenloft books), and the story is also generic. Why reinvent the wheel, when there are already so many great D&D stories and settings to draw from?

The Ugly:

The special effects weren’t very special. I’ve actually seen TV series with better special effects, so I’m not surprised that this film didn’t make it to the big screen. Plus the make up was so-so. The goblin looked terrible. The Lich wasn’t as bad, but it didn’t look anything like how a Lich usually is depicted in art from the books. They also did some funky graphics in the beginning that just didn’t come out quite right.

I give this film a D+. Fitting for a film named D&D I suppose. Sorry, D&D fans, but a D&D film should be, dare I say deserves to be, better than this.

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