Dungeons and Dragons

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Dungeons & Dragons is a 2000 American fantasy adventure film directed by Courtney Solomon and written by Carroll Cartwright and Topper Lilien. It is based on the role-playing game of the same name. The film follows an empress who wishes to get hold of a mythical rod that will help her fight an evil warlock, and enlists two thieves for help.

Dungeons and Dragons
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"Are you kidding? I'd just bought a castle, I had to pay for it somehow!" Jeremy Irons on why he signed on.
Genre: Fantasy

Adventure

Directed By: Courtney Solomon
Produced By: Thomas M. Hammel

Kia Jam

Courtney Solomon

Written By: Carroll Cartwright

Topper Lilien

Based On: Dungeons and Dragons by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson
Starring: Justin Whalin

Marlon Wayans

Thora Birch

Zoe McLellan

Kristen Wilson

Lee Arenberg

Bruce Payne

Jeremy Irons

Cinematography: Douglas Milsome
Distributed By: New Line Cinema
Release Date: December 8, 2000
Runtime: 108 Minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $45 Million
Box Office: $33.8 Million
Franchise: Dungeons and Dragons


Plot

An evil wizard named Profion takes control of a mythical rod that controls an army of dragons and seeks to take over the kingdom of Izmir. It's up to two thieves, Ridley and Snails, to save Izmir.

Why It Should Be Thrown Into the Dungeon

  1. Absolutely horrendous special effects, costumes, makeup, and CGI. Examples include:
    • On one scene, Marina's face has dirt on it, but in another shot, you can clearly see the dirt on different parts on her face. You can see the amount of dirt used as well.
    • Norda's armor changing it's shape and size in between scenes.
    • The CGI used for the dragons look like they were used in videogames. Not helping is that this movie came out a year before Shrek, which the animation there is far better.
    • Not only that, the shots they used to show a castle or kingdom looks like a PS1 cutscene.
  2. Unlikeable characters, not helped by the laughable acting.
    • Ridley is just a generic lovable thief, similar to Aladdin.
    • Marina is a generic love interest.
    • Elwood the dwarf does not do anything for the plot that you could write him out of the movie and it wouldn't be different.
    • Profion's evil plan is "I'm going to destroy the world because I'm evil!"
    • Snails is a very annoying comedic relief character. His acting is by far the worst of the movie, with him trying WAY too hard to be funny. His death is also way too hammy to be taken seriously. In fact, some reports have stated that audiences cheered at his death according to Cynical Reviews. Nostalgia Critic also celebrated his death as well.
  3. Aside from the laughable acting, the dialogue is also terrible.
    • A skeleton named Savrille saying "Anyone who wields the power of the Rod shall suffer a horrible fate."
    • Ridley's "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" after Snails is killed.
    • The Empress's "I now declare you all equal." after Profion is defeated.
  4. One scene has Damodar, Profion's right-hand man, preventing Marina from taking back the map to the rod by stepping on it. However, you can clearly see that he didn't step on it and only placed his foot beside the map.
  5. The film doesn't have much to do with the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. Yes, there are dragons, but not many dungeons. There's only one dungeon that Ridley explores in the movie, with even a Beholder in one scene. This film ends up feeling like a typical fantasy adventure movie.
  6. The production behind this movie was a nightmare. According to Cynical Reviews, director Courtney Solomon didn't want to direct this movie and never had any directing experience. However, production of the movie had to start according to Wizards of the Coast, the company that owns Dungeons and Dragons.
  7. The Empress is portrayed as extremely weak. She has an army of gold dragons to defeat Profion but only one dies forcing her to retreat with the other dragons. This wouldn't be so bad if Profion only has a handful of wizards and some scorpions for his army.
  8. The maze scene feels like an exact carbon copy of the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a much better film than this.
  9. Overall, this movie ruined so many careers aside from Jeremy Irons. Courtney Solomon would direct two other movies, An American Haunting and Getaway, but both movies would be panned by critics.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. It does have a so-bad it's good vibe thanks to the terrible acting and dialogue.
  2. Jeremy Irons performance as Profion is impressive.

Reception

Critical reaction to the film was largely negative. The film has a score of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 91 reviews, the consensus stating: "Critics say this movie has a cheap look and is badly directed. Despite the presence of talented actors, the performances are really bad, and additionally, some people are offended at Marlon Wayans' character, calling it a racist throwback to black stereotypes." The film has a score of 14 on Metacritic based on 25 reviews. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "C+" on scale of A to F.

Geoff Pevere of the Toronto Star called the film "A wheezy quest story steeped in hobbity gibberish and second-hand Star Wars costumery, featuring a cast so uniformly uncharismatic you may pine for the methody depths of Kerwin Mathews (apart, of course, from the reversely charismatic Irons), the movie has the cheap software look of something found on the Space channel at 4 a.m.". Steve Biodrowski of mania.com comments: "Let's just say that if it weren't for Lost Souls (also a New Line release, coincidentally), this would be a strong contender for the Worst Film of the Year." In February 2010, the readers of Empire voted Dungeons & Dragons the 39th worst film of all time.

A. O. Scott panned the fight choreography, computer-generated effects, Birch's acting, and compared the dialogue and pacing to that of the Pokemon films.

Solomon blamed the quality of the film on its investors and license-holders' interference, as well as his own inexperience in filmmaking. He states that he had only intended to produce the film, but was forced to direct by his investors after nearly a decade of complications dealing with TSR and Wizards of the Coast. He also claims that he was forced to use an older script despite having written an updated version that fit the Dungeons and Dragons license better.

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Gallery

Trivia

  • Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron were considered to direct this movie, but were replaced with Courtney Solomon instead.
  • A reboot of this movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is coming on March 3, 2023, this time being distributed by Paramount Pictures.
  • Oddly enough, New Line Cinema, the distributor of this movie, also distributed the Lord of Rings film series, a far better fantasy film then this.

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