Dungeons & Dragons

Once upon a time, a role playing game called Dungeon & Dragons reigned supreme, scaring parents everywhere and selling thousands of ten-sided die across the world. In the meantime, more complicated role-playing games like Vampire: The Masquerade and Magic: The Gathering have appeared letting nerds everywhere enjoy something else. Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Magic, bought TSR, the makers of Dungeons & Dragons, and almost nobody noticed. Those who did didn't really care. Meanwhile, Courtney Solomon slaved away for nearly a decade trying to bring his dream of a D&D movie to life. The results are finally here, and it seems that a decade was not long enough.

The first time audiences saw this movie it was titled Star Wars. Dungeons & Dragons takes everything that was original about Star Wars and makes it boring and mundane. Everything from plot developments and character sketches to storyboarding shots and battle scenes (hey, are those lightsabers) hearkens back to George Lucas. Lucas deserves story credit here beside Carroll Cartwright and Topper Lilien (the writers of Where the Money Is). If anything, the look of the movie is right. Director Solomon created the beautiful fantasy world of Izmer that is a good realization of the role playing game. He favors repeated grand, sweeping shots of the towers and spires on the computer generated castles, which gets annoying after a while. There are some thrilling sequences also, including a jaunt through a maze and the end battle. The special effects are above average, although sometimes it looks like watching CGI dragons instead of 'real' ones.

Unfortunately, every time an actor speaks, it feels and sounds like aural vomit. The dialogue is horrible, and the acting complements it well. In typical D&D fashion, a group of people is trying to locate an artifact that will save the kingdom. The basic premise shows promise, but quickly degenerates into drivel. Empress Savina (Thora Birch, American Beauty, Anywhere But Here) rules over a society divided by class into the mages and the commoners. She is trying to create equality amongst the two groups. The mages are trying to usurp her power, and it is up to Ridley (Justin Whalin, Jimmy Zip, Prep), a young thief, and his hastily assembled team to save the day. Fellow thief Snails (Marlon Wayans, Scary Movie, Requiem for a Dream), mage Marina (Zoe McLellan, Stonebrook, Stranger in My House), a dwarf and an elf round out the party. They are looking for the Rod of Savrille, a mythical object that can control red dragons. Damodar (Bruce Payne, Ripper, Highlander: Endgame), a mage, is also looking for the object.

Jeremy Irons (Faeries, The Man in the Iron Mask) is also in this movie, although he looks embarrassed most of the time. Birch sounds like she is reading her lines for the first time. It is sad when the best acting is by Wayans, but this is the case here, although his feeble attempts at schtick does not gel with the rest of the movie. Whalin (yes, Jimmy Olsen from Lois & Clark) simply cannot express anger or sadness without eliciting laughs from the viewers. McLellan is okay, but she does not really do anything. The only noticeable thing about her is her ability to keep her lipstick red after all her adventures. Solomon and crew do a good job of making Dungeons & Dragons accessible to non-gamers, but after about half an hour, the story makes no sense, so all of it went to waste. For appearance, Dungeons & Dragons get +10 points. For charisma, constitution, and every other character aspect, they really need to reroll.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 48 minutes, Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence.

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