Yay! The new Dragonlance animated movie showed up at my local video store, and I was lucky enough to grab the last rentable copy on the shelf today.
I was prepared to be disappointed, based on my past experience with the last D&D movie. As it is, I was pleasantly surprised. Having Weis and Hickman on board as consultants was a good move; this movie was remarkably faithful to the novel. At least, as faithful as a 90-minute movie can be to a 400+ page book, meaning that the only major deviations (if you can call them that) were mostly a matter of needing to leave things out. But it still managed to capture all the important points, and the story still made perfect sense.
Some things I liked:
(I’ll use spoiler boxes, but I’m not spoiling the plot — many of you will have already read the book — mainly technical stuff that some may prefer to be surprised by.)
[spoiler]The movie uses a technique I’ve not seen before - it’s a clever blending of traditional (hand-drawn) animation and CGI. Basically, all of the humanoid/monstrous humanoid characters are rendered via traditional animation, while CGI is used for the dragons and other non-humanoids.
The artwork really felt like D&D. Toward the end, Laurana shows up wearing what looks like the “elven chain” armor right out of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
I really appreciated the voice acting. The main characters actually sounded “human”. I was worried that we were going to get overdone, cartoony, caricatured voices. I was especially worried about Raistlin’s voice in that regard — I half expected him to end up sounding raspy and “evil” like … Skeletor or something. But Keifer Sutherland did a good job with him. In fact, all of the voice actors did a commendable job.
The characters were all portrayed fairly accurately as well, I thought
A couple things I didn’t like so much, though these are minor:
While it’s mentioned that Caramon and Raistlin are brothers, it’s not explicitly made clear that they’re twins. I suppose that at this point in the story, they decided it would use up too much story time to go into why a pair of twins are so different. Also, while Kitiara is mentioned several times, it’s never mentioned that she is Caramon’s and Raistlin’s sister.
Early in the story, Tasslehoff ends up sitting with a group of children at the inn in Solace to listen to Fizban tell stories, and Fizban calls him “little boy”. Afterward, it’s never made clear that he’s actually an adult of his race. I can see somebody who is unfamiliar with the the books or Dragonlance in general might end up thinking he’s one of those corny “kid sidekicks” so common in this kind of animated show.
The interesting relationship between Tas and Flint wasn’t fleshed out to my satisfaction.
Fizban never once lost his hat.
The end of the movie reveals Fizban’s true nature, which if I recall correctly, wasn’t revealed until the third book of the trilogy. This is probably a concession to the possibility that future installments might not get made. The reveal was also done in kind of a Gandalf vs. the balrog kind of way, which I didn’t like because they already made him look a bit too Galdalf-y, IMO.
ETA: Though it’s a “cartoon”, it’s probably not suitable for small children. They didn’t shy away from depicting things like large groups of people being incinerated by dragonfire, bloodshed, and frank explanation of why Tanis is a half-elf.