Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight animated movie

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. :wink:

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.

I didn’t like the 2D/3D animation blend at all. It felt like they originally wanted to do it all 3D, realized that they couldn’t, but didn’t want to get rid of some of the work they had already done. I’m sure they’ll retcon some reason as to why the dragons and draconians are 3D, but I won’t buy it. It seemed amateurish.

Also, I’ll disagree with you about the voice acting. It seemed like most of the voice actors didn’t bother to do more than one take. To me, it totally gave off a vibe of, “I got all the words right, I don’t need to do it again, because it’s a fucking D&D cartoon.” I thought Kiefer Sutherland was the worst offender, which was disappointing, because I was most stoked about his role. But even a veteran voice actor like Phil Lamarr, who does a great job on Futurama and Family Guy, really just mailed it in for Riverwind. I thought Tanis was terrible – the guy sounded 20, not like a seasoned 90-something half-elf. Lucy Lawless was utterly forgettable, if not bad. The chick from Buffy was OK, but she didn’t have much. Flint was a little better than decent, Sturm even a little better than that. I think Tas’s actor was the best. He seemed genuinely excited to be doing his lines (perhaps not a tall order for someone voicing a kender).

All in all, I stick by my conclusion from the first paragraph – it seemed amateurish. Unpolished. Maybe even unfinished. Not genuinely bad, but kinda disappointing, and I went in with very mediocre expectations.

I was going to start this thread myself earlier, but I couldn’t think of enough to say about it to justify doing so. I’ve never read any of the Dragonlance books, but I found the movie entertaining enough to wonder if they have any plans to adapt the rest of the trilogy.