Dungeons & Dragons 2-Movie Collection
Directed by Courtney Solomon/Gerry Lively
Starring Jeremy Irons, Marlon Wayans, Thora Birch, Mark Dymond
Warner Home Video
Release date: February 15, 2011
I guess I am the resident Dungeons & Dragons expert here at Geeks of Doom, so when the new 2-disc Blu-ray combo pack of Dungeons & Dragons and D&D: Wrath of the Dragon God came across our desk, I was the first one offered to check them out. I’ve never seen these movies before, but I know of them by reputation, and I was curious to see if they lived up to those reputations. All I really wanted out of them was a decent adventure movie that at least gave a tip of its hat to the popular roleplaying game. What I got was one decent adventure movie, and one really bad but really goofy adventure movie.
The first Dungeons & Dragons movie, which was originally released in 2000, stars Jeremy Irons, Marlon Wayans, and Thora Birch and follows a couple of thieves (Wayans and Justin Waylin), a mage (Zoe MClellan), a dwarf (Lee Arenberg), and an Elf (Kristen Wilson) as they search for a magical item that will control dragons and save their kingdom. There are some D&D elements thrown in, notably the dragons, a few dungeons, and some Beholders, but they didn’t use a lot of the more specific items I would have liked to find in a D&D movie. They don’t use any specific worlds from the game and it really feels like more of a generic fantasy world than anything specifically tied to the D&D game.
I don’t know what Jeremy Irons was thinking when he took this role, but apparently he decided if he was going to do it, he was going to have fun with it. Irons is about as subtle as a clown fight here, constantly yelling every line he has. The end result is that he is gloriously goofy and when combined with the really bad special effects, you get a movie that is bad enough to see at least once. The rest of the cast is pretty bad, and Marlon Wayans is horribly miscast in this and is so annoying that he almost makes the movie unwatchable. But Irons is enough to make the movie somewhat fun.
The second movie, Wrath of the Dragon God, came out in 2005 and is not a direct sequel to the first film, although one character inexplicably makes a return appearance. The CG is just as bad, if not a bit worse than the first movie, but that is mostly explained by the direct-to-DVD nature of the movie and the presumably smaller budget. The second film follows another group of adventurers as they look to stop a dastardly villain from destroying the world. Wrath of the Dragon God has more of a D&D feel. You can tell that the creators and actors took more of an effort to incorporate the game into the movie. The end result is that you get a movie that is more enjoyable for D&D fans, but doesn’t have the goofy pleasure of watching a really bad movie. It somehow manages to be a better and a worse movie than the first one. The actors play it straight, and while none of them are great actors, they all do a better job of putting the world on display. The creators have gone out of their way to make the group in the movie feel like a group you could play around the table with your friends. It’s the small details in this one that a hardcore D&D fan will really appreciate.
The extras on the discs are a little light. Each one has something about the game and how they have tried to translate it to the screen, and then there are some features about the CG dragons, but those are pretty laughable. Even the transfer quality is not the greatest on these two; they don’t look much better than your standard DVD transfer. I wish there was a better selection of features to choose from. I really wish there had been some kind of in-depth documentary on the history of D&D as a game, but there’s really nothing.
Twenty bucks for two movies is not a bad deal, and you can probably find it for even cheaper — Amazon has it for $14.99 — so if you’re looking for a couple of cheap movies to have some fun with, than yes, this is a decent set. If you’re a fan of the game, Wrath of the Dragon God is at least worth checking out. These aren’t great movies by any stretch of the imagination, but they are definitely something for the SyFy movie fan. Bad acting, cheesy effects, horrible dialog, it’s all here. If you like these kinds of cheesy movies, I’d say it’s worth giving a look at. As a set, I’m giving it a 2 out of 5. Now, let’s go hunt for treasure.