Last night (10/29/03) was Billy Night. Billy Night means we all got together and watched really, really bad movies. The first was Phantasm. The Second was Dungeons and Dragons.
Dungeons and Dragons
It was so bad.
Bernardinelli, as usual, sums it up nicely:
They totally wasted whatever talent the actors had. Some of them look like it might had promise, but the script and directing were… atrocious. I can’t imagine any of the actors (most of whom were totally wasted and had no real time or space to work anyway). Damodar was vaguely entertaining now and then, but h looked too funny to really be menacing. Iron’s character, Profion, was so over the top I actually did enjoy it whenever he came onscreen. The Empress was, without a doubt, the worst actor I’ve ever seen. She wasn’t even acting; she just read her lines in a deadpan voice.
The CG was underbudgeted (the whole film was underbudgeted), but it actually was the best part. Whoever made that really knew how to bring out the sheer scale of the magically powerful society, set in a strange but compelling DnD world. The most effective shots of the film were the pans of Ismere and a shot of a strange set of cities set atop giant rock columns. That was cool, and lent an instant character to the place. The dragon CG was kind of ugly, but it worked well enough. Had the directors seen fit ot include a few longer set pieces with shots of dueling dragons rather than slapping a few vague battle sequences, it would have been better.
I won’t bother with the plot. A few parts are reasonably entertaining, but the movie completely fails to link them together into a working whole. The worst part of the movie is that the plot really was taken from a DnD campaign. I’ve bloody well played those characters up on the screen. And played them better, too.
One plot point of note: the whole point of the movie was that the noble, good-hearted Empress wanted to make all her subjects equal, yada yada yada. But the problem was that Profion was right. She’s totally trying to become supreme herself; she just wants to get rid of the council. She’s the one who strikes first, to attack the Council, her silly little proclamation is nothing more than idle talk. The whole movie points towards her being every bit as bad as Profion, except she’s not smart enough to actually rule well.
Strangely, after seeing this flick, I want to re-make it. Given a decent budget and some talent, I think you could make this film into a real fantasy classic. This si how I would change it:
The Queen is a scheming, haughty jerk, who wants to control things herself and dispose of the council.
Profion is the old guard, who may be a bastard, but he’s an understandable bastard. He’s a scheming, somewhat ruthless wizard, but he’s not a stupid or malevolent one.
Hire better actors.
Get a decent costume designer. The Set designer was competent, though.
The Wizardess is ordered by the Queen to find the Red Dragon Rod of Savril, and purchases the services of a pair of underworld-knowledgeable ffigures. One of them should be a older, perhaps like Mel Gibson, who can effectively play a strong character while bringing some maturity to the role (Payback). The other should be younger, closer to her age. No more than one other character.
The point of the movie is the Wizardess’s self-conflict over and eventual decision not to give the Rod to the Empress, who would then have sufficient power to destory the Council and control Ismere. Along the way, it shinted that she and the younger theif sort of enjoy each other’s company, but nothing too detailed should be shown. Let the audience put their own imagination to fill in the details.
In the end, they take down the Empress by stealing her Rod of Dragon Control, and destroying them both. They make a deal with Profion, who of course has been trying to kill them all along because he’s terrified of what will happen if the Queen gets both Rods. Profion takes the Throne (Last line of the movie: “Emperor Profion the 1st! Glory to the Empire! Glory to the Emperor” shouted by hundreds of soldiers) The main charaters become considered wanted criminals, but Profion arranges for them to leave the Empire safely.
The Empress, having been deposed once the “evil, cowardly thieves and cut-throats” destroyed her Rod and exposed her to unhealthy amounts of magic, is locked in a high tower “for her own fragile health”.