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Movie Review: Dungeons & Dragons

Filed under the:  department.
Posted by:Ryan on Tuesday, 12 Dec, 2000 @ 2:54 AM
Film / Movie

In the first part of a continuning series, BeGroovy’s resident movie reviewer, Ruprect, has a review of what could possibly the geekiest movie of the year, if not the decade. Dungeons & Dragons. Read on for the review, as well as an introduction to the BeGroovy Film category.

Since planning for 2.0 began, Movie Reviews have been a part of it. Our first 2.0 icon was the film icon. While we planned on adding a column to our magazine, we sought out a reviewer. Ruprect fit the bill perfectly.

While BeGroovy was down, Ruprect wrote several reviews for us, which we could unfortunatley not run (due to lack of site). The original plan was to add a regular movie column to our magazine. Now that we are back without magazine (the mag IS coming back, but not yet) we have decided to go ahead and start running the occasional review.

Why does this belong on BeGroovy?

Well, I like movies. Ruprect likes movies. I am willing to bet that you like movies too. If not, don’t worry. When we take our user customization system live, you purists will be able to filter out categories like this one, while the rest of you enjoy the review.

In the meantime, Here’s Ruprect….

********  (8/20)

Stamina +3, Courage +2, Sincerity -10

Director/Writer Courtney Solomon saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace one too many times. 

Besides laser blasters and spaceships, there are quite a few similarities

between it and his debut movie Dungeons & Dragons.  For those born yesterday,

D&D is probably the most popular role

playing game ever.  It also has survived a spat of social outcry regarding

its addictiveness.  Solomon’s film is here to set the record straight.

Unfortunately, producing the ultimate tribute to his beloved game was more of

a story itself than D&D actually is.  As it turns out, Solomon

by shear determination spent over ten years making his voice heard in and out of

Hollywood until some suit finally listened.  You’d think that much time

would reap better results.

For starters, the plot centers around some muddy politics.  Empress

Savina (Thora Birch) is intent on bringing a rather twentieth century brand of anachronistic democracy to a decidedly

Dark Ages caste

system of feudal lords, mages, dwarfs, trolls, and thieves.  She believes

that everyone should have a voice in government and that war benefits no

one.  Yet one wonders how she got to her throne in the first place.

This particularly soft take on the fantasy really surprised me.  With

such a varied background of people groups and political intrigue, I was a little

disappointed that Solomon chose to dumb down the subject matter for his modern audience. 

On one hand he’s done an admirable job with props, costumes, and set design to recreate an Olde English fantasy universe worthy of a D&D fanatic. 

But give us some credit, Solomon. We get enough political correctness in the


Leading the commoners’ revolt is Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon

Wayans).  Whalin is at times insufferably smarmy, but a solid hero.  Wayans

though is just painful to watch.  He plays the dutiful role of slapstick sidekick, ala Jar Jar

Binks, but given nothing to do but provide comic relief. 

It’s embarrassing to see him pay this kind of racial pittance.  It’s a good thing

the Wayans brothers (how many are there anyway?) have no shame.

Then we have

Empress Savina who is certainly no Queen Amadala.  Something struck me while watching

Birch: her voice inflections change but her face never breaks that stubborn stoicism. 

It makes me wonder if her role in American Beauty was a fluke or, at the very least, being in the right place at the right time.

Quite her opposite, the magnetic Zoe McLellan plays the mage Marina, an

apprentice to a powerful wizard.  As Profion (Jeremy Irons paying the

bills) grapples for power from the empress, Marina comes to the aid of Ridley

and Snails.  Joining their little band is a dwarf named Elwood and an elf named Norda (Kristen Wilson) who looks every bit like Commander Tuvok’s twin Vulcan sister. 

One of the more magnetic characters is Profion’s lead henchmen Damodar (Bruce

Payne).  He’s not exactly a limber Darth Maul, but he’s just as menacing

and British.

Central to their fight against power-hungry Profion is an understanding of

magic and dragons.  For whatever reason dragons are a nexus for

magic.  Not a D&D player, I don’t have a whole lot of context

here.  Still, I was hoping a movie like this would bridge that gap for the

non-initiated.  For all I know, dragons just look cool and breath

fire.  Or maybe that’s the point.  It’s just a game, right?

With so many characters to develop in two hours, more than a few get left by

the wayside with not much to do but resemble action figures in an elaborate

life-sized game.  By the final act, D&D is merely a solo hero movie with his trusty sidekicks either dropping dead or being captured. 

To beat the game, Ridley has to win the girl, slay the dragons, and kill the

evil boss pretty much on his own.  At least Solomon spares us a Gungan disco

celebration in the end.  Now that’s worth celebrating.

34 Responses to “Movie Review: Dungeons & Dragons”

  1. Rurpect Says:

    In Response To Nutcase @ 12/12/2000 11:58:46 AM

    LOTR, oh sweet merciful crap

    Poor Peter Jackson has a mountain of pressure on him, he’s just gotta.

    I think that LOTR teaser trailer spoiled my viewing of D&D. That’s the kind of fantasy I want to see. Not a bumbling buddy adventure.

  2. Rurpect Says:

    LOTR & the Sci-FI Dune series

    Speaking of 6 hour series, did anybody see the Dune miniseries? I’ve taped it and only made it to the first 2 hour section.

    Quite good, actually. Although, I’m a big fan of Lynch’s version too. Maybe that’s because I haven’t read the books. All the purists hate Lynch’s version.

  3. sadistic_mystic Says:

    Whee.. first post

    Um.. I wasted 21 bucks to take some friends to this movie. The CGI was great, the dragons were pretty.. and a good deal of the actual game made it into the film.. including a “beholder.” (Creature that floats covered with eyes)

    But, besides that.. the plot was cheesy as you could possibly get, they weren’t in any REAL D&D gameworld such as Ravenloft, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Spelljammer… It was VERY generic and teenagerish.

    I want my money back

  4. Nutcase Says:

    I liked it

    When i saw it, i found it pretty fun. I mean, it was dumb as anything, and it was definately a Star Wars rip off, but because I played D&D back in the day, none of that mattered.

    Just seeing beholders flying around made the movie for me. :)

  5. Chris Herborth Says:


    Nobody was expecting this _not_ to suck, right?

    At least there’s still hope for Lord of the Rings being a serious non-sucky fantasy movie.

    - chrish

  6. El-Al Says:

    In Response To Chris Herborth @ 12/12/2000 10:17:14 AM

    Re: Really…

    I can’t wait to see LOTR!

  7. Cedric Neve Says:

    In Response To El-Al @ 12/12/2000 11:42:07 AM

    Re: Really…

    Yeah… The poll on the BeNews site mentioned Matrix 2 but not LOTR. Matrix was great but LOTR… well, if it is just as good as a tenth of the quality of the books… it will blow away our standard notions of film quality. (I always thought the star systems had the greatest movies get five stars… in fact, it might be a decimal system, that never made it over five before LOTR).

    However, I suspect it will be very difficult to adapt LOTR to the screen. It’s all about very interesting characters, an ambiance,… and a FANTASTIC world. How would all that fit in a 2 hours movie ?

    I hope they will adopt the Star Wars strategy and only present a part of the story in each film.

  8. Nutcase Says:

    In Response To Cedric Neve @ 12/12/2000 11:51:16 AM

    Re: Really…

    LOTR is a six hour movie. 2 hours per book in the trilogy. So i think they may do a good job. :)

    If you remember the dudes on the horses hunting em down? (cant remember their names…. ringwraith? iriki?) Anyway, They looked perfect.

    If they can keep that up, this is gonna RULE.

  9. David Bruce Says:

    In Response To Nutcase @ 12/12/2000 11:58:46 AM

    Re: Really…

    They were called either “ringwraiths”, or in the language of Mordor, the Nazgul.

  10. David Bruce Says:

    In Response To Nutcase @ 12/12/2000 11:58:46 AM

    One other thing

    Even at six hours, it’s going to take some pretty aggressive editing to shorten the epic enough to fit. Years ago (1978 or 1979) there was an animated film called “The Lord of The Rings” even though it should have been called “The Fellowship of The Ring” because it only covered the first book. I recall reading that the producer said it would have taken ten or twelve feature length films to do LOTR without cutting scenes out.

    The film was a box-office failure, and the planned second and third installments never were made.

  11. technospider Says:

    In Response To Rurpect @ 12/12/2000 12:14:59 AM

    Re: LOTR & the Sci-FI Dune series

    You taped it?? My boss was supposed to tape it for me but it got screwed up and the SciFi channel is all fuzzy at my house. :-( Care to send me a copy? :-)
    And yes, only one book per movie.

    Fellowship, Christmas 2001 - Still a damn year away… I’m gonna die waiting.

    Towers, Christmas 2002

    Return, Christmas 2003

    If good things come to those who wait then these movies will RULE!!

    One good movie to bring them all, and in the darkness (of the theater) bind them. ;)

  12. mr_skreet Says:


    Having resisted for years I’ve recently started getting into a D&D game (Icewind Dale) and oh how I wish there was a decent D&D game for the BeOS.

  13. Korson Says:

    In Response To David Bruce @ 12/12/2000 4:26:02 PM

    Re: One other thing

    The film was by Ralph Bache(sp?), he also did a fantastic lil’ movie called Wizards, which should be checked out if you get the time.

    One of the big problems with the that old version of LOTR was his style, it’s kind of jarring sometimes, and also when you take any much beloved book and turn it into a movie, you must be careful, everyone ‘knows’ what the character’s sound like, but no one can agree on it.

    random thoughts.


  14. Rurpect Says:

    In Response To Chris Herborth @ 12/12/2000 10:17:14 AM

    David the Bruce…

    (Sorry for making this public, there’s no mailto or registered user name)

    David, you wouldn’t happen to be a web reviewer yourself would you? There’s a David Bruce that writes for hollywoodjesus.com

    Just curious.

  15. Ruthrauff Says:

    In Response To mr_skreet @ 12/12/2000 4:51:40 PM

    Re: D&D

    Just keep praying for Neverwinter Nights.

  16. NorseLord Says:


    Nice job on this review. Your writing is excellent.

  17. Scar Says:

    In Response To Korson @ 12/12/2000 4:52:52 PM

    Re: One other thing

    Its actually 3 separate movies being released Christmas 2001, 2002, 2003.


  18. LeftTurn Says:

    Good honest review!

    Good job Ruprect. Good, to the point review.
    I wasn’t planning on seeing it anyway. The dragons look cool on the trailer, but I knew it would be a s*cky movie. Maybe on video when there’s nothing else to watch…

  19. Besala Rhei Va Says:

    In Response To Cedric Neve @ 12/12/2000 11:51:16 AM

    The film adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings”

    will be 3 films running approximately 2hrs/30minutes each. That’s 7.5 hours of film to tell a story visually that won’t have to be NEARLY as descriptive as the written word. Creative liberties will be taken by PJ (who is a lifelong fan of the books) to bring his interpretation of the story to the big screen.

    Will it live up to the hype? Hopefully.

    Will it be COMPLETELY faithful to the books? No.

    Will it be a compelling, involving and gripping story that could possibly become a visual classic?

    We can only hope.

  20. mlk Says:

    In Response To Nutcase @ 12/12/2000 11:58:46 AM

    Re: Really…

    I’m quite looking forward to LOTR, as I gave up on the books (dyslix, took me six hours to read the prolog!)

    I played the computer game on my C64 thou. But could not get anywhere, some guys killed me just after leaving the house. I’ll watch the film, then try again I think :) Hmm… LOTR was my first tape game on the C64, followed by GunShip :)


  21. Aeris the wired Says:

    I laughed, I snickered, it was HORRIBLE!

    I feel sorry for everyone involved with the creation of this flick. It was so obviously B-esque from the previews it was shameful.

    In conversation with a friend of mine over Wendy’s hot chocolate and a baked potato — the theater was freezing and the windchill here is -50, shame on me for wearing a thin shirt — we haggled over what were the best parts.

    It’s true that I spent most of the movie with my eyes on the ceiling, laughing in uncontrolled silence at how preposerous the storyline was, or wondering when the next spinning-flyby-CG-building-sequence was to grace the screen. However, I felt D&D reached it’s peak enjoyablity at two points (since it was obvious going in this wasn’t goinging to have any serious components):

    1. The 15/20 minutes before Snails fought alone against Profion.
    2. The end battle scene CG, trust me, the rest of the movie is worth it to see a dragon impailed on a building spire!

    My friend denies my #1, although I refuse to give it up. However, I think D&D was the most enjoyable bad-movie I’ve seen since “Starship Troopers” (too bad I didn’t catch “Battlefield Earth” ;-)

    -Aeris the wired

  22. Aeris the wired Says:

    In Response To Rurpect @ 12/12/2000 12:14:59 AM

    Shameless plug

    Since you mentioned 6 hour miniseries, I feel apt to plug one of my favorites. If you’re open-minded, and can stand movies which try almost everyone’s patience at first (eg “2001″) Then might I suggest “Serial Experiments Lain”.

    “Lain” is a thirteen part series of japanese animation distributed by Pioneer Animation (http://www.pioneeeranimation.com). Sadly, it’s almost impossible to find it on rental — and the tapes are $25 each. Most places won’t sell it to anyone under the age of 16, and it’s not because of drugs, swearing, or sex — there’s little of that through the entire series, even the violence is far less then the average US primetime special.

    Compelled yet? Then how about this: “Lain makes movies like The Matrix look like a childish attempt at best.”

  23. DrB Says:

    In Response To Aeris the wired @ 12/13/2000 09:37:43 AM

    Re: I laughed, I snickered, it was HORRIBLE!

    I thought the plots in both Starship troopers and Battlefield Earth were better.

    My friend and I are both D&D players from way back and we contend that there has not been a ‘Truly Great’ film in the fantasy genre. The closest we could agree to were Willow, The Dark Crystal, and Legend.

    I am hoping that the genre continues and that LOTR kicks ass.

  24. Ruprect Says:

    In Response To NorseLord @ 12/12/2000 7:35:50 PM

    Re: Well-written!

    My, thank you for the encouraging words!

    I’m glad this has been well recieved. I hope to write for BeGroovy for as long as it will have me…

  25. Cedric Says:

    In Response To Aeris the wired @ 12/13/2000 09:37:43 AM

    Re: I laughed, I snickered, it was HORRIBLE!

    I haven’t seen D&D (and after reading the review, I probably won’t) but I loved Starship troopers. I mean, it wasn’t the film of the decade or anything but I enjoyed the expected plot, the aliens and the funny/unprofessional special effects. I’m not sure the film was made to make me laugh but I laught all the long… and so did all my folks at home…

    I won’t see it twice but I certainly enjoyed watching it once.

  26. Ruprect Says:

    In Response To Aeris the wired @ 12/13/2000 09:53:38 AM


    I’ve heard of the series. My roommate is big into anime. He’s tried to find Lain forever now.

    Personally, I have a real hard time with the whole genre, but there are a few that I’ve liked. He forced me to watch Ghost in the Shell. That was pretty cool. I draw the line at Dragon Ball Z though. Sheesh.

    Speaking of anime, did you see the trailer for Final Fantasy before D&D? That was absolutely spectacular. I hope it rocks. Very Matrix-like (or perhaps, that’s the other way around?).

  27. Ruprect Says:

    In Response To Cedric @ 12/13/2000 6:04:46 PM

    Re: I laughed, I snickered, it was HORRIBLE!


    I loved Starship troopers as well. I kinda liked its hamminess and quirky 1940’s fascist news bulletins (”Do you want to know more?!”). Actually, I thought the FX were quite professional. Those creatures were spectacular, unless it’s been to long for me to remember.

    And besides, it had Denise Richards in it (hubba).

  28. Ruprect Says:

    In Response To DrB @ 12/13/2000 10:50:56 AM

    Re: I laughed, I snickered, it was HORRIBLE!

    I loved Willow and Legend too. The only thing wrong with Legend was it’s extremely bad 80s soundtrack. I’ve heard that Ridley Scott is planning on a Star Wars style re-release to DVD with a whole new orchestral soundtrack. That would rock. The satan figure was totally cool too!

  29. David Bruce Says:

    In Response To Rurpect @ 12/12/2000 5:18:27 PM

    Re: David the Bruce…

    No, that’s not me. I’m not the winemaker David Bruce either. If you must know, I’m actually a transplant surgeon who writes bug-filled C in my spare time. (check out http://www.lifelinkfound.org/bruce.html)

  30. sadistic_mystic Says:

    In Response To Ruprect @ 12/13/2000 8:54:14 PM

    Re: I laughed, I snickered, it was HORRIBLE!

    Hey, I LIKED that music..

    I have it on CD!

  31. Aeris the wired Says:

    In Response To Ruprect @ 12/13/2000 8:09:52 PM

    Re: anime

    I don’t blame you for Drangonball Z. I used to refuse to watch it myself, but the storyline and setup is so deliciously B-rate it’s good for a cheap laugh.

    I don’t think I’ve seen the FF movie trailer in the theater yet, I’m sure I’d remember clearly if I did. I have been keeping close track on it though.

    That reminds me, you may want to check out “Avalon” — do a query for it on www.aint-it-cool-news.com, you won’t regret it.

    -Aeris the wired

  32. Aeris the wired Says:

    In Response To Aeris the wired @ 12/13/2000 09:37:43 AM

    Re: I laughed, I snickered, it was HORRIBLE!

    I would have to agree with all of you that there really hasn’t been a truly great fantasy genre film, and I think for several reasons (although I’m no expert)

    A truly great fantasy film would be some 8 or more hours long.

    The longer the film, the more expensive the production.

    The more expensive the production, the more cynical the producers get.

    Both fantasy and Science Fiction genre movies have been on the decline the last few years. Fewer movies in this genre have come out, and those that have were barly palatable (I still shudder at the thought of the ending sequence from “Mission to Mars”).

    Perhaps the nature of the fantasy genre is even incablable of being put to film properly. The story has to be small enough to pull off, bu fantastic enough to do the genre justice. It would require especially creative directing, writing, and production to do this properly.

    -Aeris the wired

    BTW, The Dark Crystal was very well done in my opinion, although it has the Jim Henson stigma attached to it — I couldn’t convince my roomates to watch it with me. :-(

    BTW2, I also thought the FX in Starship Troopers was especially well done. It was the main reason I went to see it! If you don’t agree, try watching some more low budget scifi…

  33. Rurpect Says:

    In Response To Aeris the wired @ 12/14/2000 09:24:52 AM

    Re: anime

    You can download the FF extended trailer here:


    Although, I’m sure the guys at AICN have it posted too. Fantastic trailer.

    Thanks for the heads up on Avalon. I’ll have to check it out when fewer “eyes” are watching me (IYKWIM).

  34. Derrick Johnson Says:

    Remember the cartoon series of Dungeons and Dragrons back in the 80s. Why don’t you guys turn it in a live action movie on the big screen. take care bye

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