Dungeons & Dragons Reviews
"Dungeons & Dragons" is a perfect example of a film that's so catastrophically awful it becomes hilarious. There isn't a single element present that is good. In the fantastical empire of Izmir, ruled by a knock-off of the child-like Empress from the "NeverEnding Story" (Thora Birch as Empress Savina), there is trouble brewing. The evil mage Profion (Jeremy Irons, acting so insanely he gives Nicholas Cage in "Wicker Man" a run for his money) and his blue-lipstick-wearing crony, Damodar (Bruce Payne) decide to steal the mystical red rod of power, which will allow them to summon the red dragons and take power by force. The protagonists of the film are Ridley (justin Whalin) and Snail (Marlon Wayans, who is so embarrassing as a sidekick he falls just short of wearing Jordans and rapping) who break into the Magic School (that's what it's really called) and get roped up with a young mage/love interest named Marina (Zoe McLellan). They meet up with a dwarf and an elf, included in the film only to make it more fantasy-like, and go on a quest to defeat the bad guys do. Expect Ridley to explore what passes as dungeons and for our heroes to battle some deadly, badly animated dragons.
It's laugh-out-loud hilarious and never gets old because the picture keeps throwing new stuff at you. The acting is terrible, but in a nice variety of ways for instance. Profion is way over-the-top, waving his arms around like a madman, chanting incomprehensible spells that sound like they're being made up on the spot and twisting his face in sneers and grins. The Empress on the other hand, is so wooden you get better performances out of the animated skeleton encountered towards the last third of the film, and that guy has no face! As for the main players, several of them are incredibly bland and feel totally irrelevant to the plot. You could have easily thrown out the elf and the dwarf character because they contribute nothing at all.
The story is terrible and feels like a generic fantasy film with a couple of Dungeons and Dragons elements thrown in. We've got a random monster who shows up for a single scene and then disappears, just so we can have D&D players go "I get that reference!" but otherwise the film is filled with weird-looking humanoids that would be more at home in an episode of Star Trek than in an epic fantasy film. The sets here are so incredibly cheap it is astounding. Some scenes are clearly shot against a bad green screen and you can almost see an aura surrounding characters as they talk in front of these big, elaborate castles. Other shots are clearly inside a large library or inside a cathedral that was not built for the film. It's pretty hilarious to see the camera pan around, showing elaborate paintings that in no way fit, as if the editor mistook them for some of the special effect guys' best work and said "The rest of this movie looks awful, but people have got to see this!" Mostly, "Dungeons and Dragons" is set in unconvincing dungeons, markets or forests that were probably borrowed from a TV show that had just finished wrapping up, with a bunch of random bones or skulls thrown in to look more menacing.
The most memorable and laughable elements of the film have to be the special effects. I understand that this film had a somewhat limited budget, about $40 million dollars. That's not a ton of money so I don't expect the creatures here to look as good as the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park", but this is a whole new level of bad. Someone working on this film was incredibly proud of the CG castle they built and they show it off constantly, but no matter how much you pan up and down, it still looks terrible. Even worse are the dragons. I realize that the film is called DungeonS and DragonS, but if you can barely create one CG dragon, don't include a battle where hundreds of them are flying unconvincingly, spitting fireballs at each other. One of the first scenes features a dragon being killed and the movie tells you right away it is going to be cheap, unconvincing and laughable because the dragon bleeds CG blood. Do you know how easy it is to shoot blood pooling and dripping over stone steps? You just need some corn syrup and food colouring, or at the very least some red paint! They couldn't even get that right, what hope do any of the other creatures here have?
The worst offender in terms of bad costumes (most of the armour looks like spray-painted plastic) them all is the elf Norda (Kristen Wilson, looking like a Vulcan from "Star Trek"). Ever see one of those paintings, perhaps on the side of a van where a tough-looking barbarian chick has her arms in the air, swinging twin swords? Half the time she's wearing a breast plate that looks like it was painted onto her skin? This elf has exactly that. Literally, she's wearing a breast plate; complete with individual cups and a belly button for extra sexiness. It's impossible to miss because the camera constantly shows her from the neck down. Had we not received many shots of Damodar's epic codpiece, I'd call her boob-plate the most awesome piece of armour in the whole picture.
Once in a while, you see a movie that's so bad it earns itself a place in the hall of fame. This is easily the worst fantasy film I've seen. It's a series of colossal mistakes immortalized on Dvd and it's glorious. Forget your standard comedies with your Eddie Murphys, your Jim Carreys and your Adam Sandlers. You want to laugh long and hard? Check out "Dungeons & Dragons". I love it! (On Dvd, January 24, 2014)
An insult to fans of the series, Dungeons & Dragons is a laughably bad fantasy knock off.
I guess at the time the effects were a little more impressive than today's standards of course plus there wasn't the huge amount of fantasy films that there are these days so this was quite a special little event. Looking back now it really is a terrible film, the acting from everyone is just abysmal and full O' cheese. Irons goes beyond taking the piss really with his rather queer hissing, cackling and facial expressions whilst his second in command played by Bruce Payne is just the campiest guy I've seen for ages...oh and he has blue lipstick on too.
The film revolves around the cliched to max partnership of Wayans (doing his best Eddie Murphy impression) and Whalin trying to be heroic and cool. The pair are just awful together and completely lacking any sense of comedic timing, there is of course a lot of attempted humour throughout but it all falls flat on its face hard.
There really is nothing to recommend here other than to laugh at, the effects are the worse CGI you will have seen for a major release (even though its an old film yes I know), tonnes of obvious bluescreen and even the costumes, makeup jobs and props all look cheap and tacky.
I still can't understand why Irons would agree to this, ditto Richard O' Brien ('The Rocky Horror Picture Show' and quite the cult name here in the UK). I suppose its because his scenes were a homage to the classic 'Crystal Maze' he once hosted, almost a homage to him really, the guy is legend but this brings him down.
The film was indeed mauled upon release but at the time (twas much younger back then) I gave it some leeway, it kinda reminded me of the 'Mortal Kombat' film and how, even though it was weak, it still had a glimmer of quality. But now I simply cannot allow that leeway anymore, the film may be enjoyed by younger kids but basically its crap.