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Dungeons and Dragons (DVD)

Starring: Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin, Zoe McLellan and Richard O'Brien.

Rated: 12.

Story: In a generic fantasy empire, a small band of adventurers drawn together by fate must embark on a quest to recover a powerful magical artifact, save the empress and defeat an evil sorcerer.

And, yes, it does all involve a drunken dwarf, a haughty elf, a sneering henchman, some wandering around in a forest and Jeremy Irons waving his arms about while cackling...

Comments: In many ways this is a bit of a disaster. For starters, there's very little content to tie it directly with the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. From the use of magic to the types of monsters, nothing is entirely right. All that really distinguishes it from other swords and sorcery movies is the name. Starting out with a scene that literally has a dragon in a dungeon doesn't make it D&D.

Most of the cast are out acted by their own hair and Irons seems desperate to be somewhere else (as can be seen by the face he pulls at the end of some especially drawn-out arm waving in one of the deleted scenes). On top of that, the film has been rather poorly edited and it's entirely obvious where scenes have been pulled. This has usually been done to remove particularly clunky dialogue but it still plays havoc with the film's flow and continuity.

Nonetheless, Dungeons & Dragons is quite fun to watch if you've ever done any roleplaying. It may not have many proper D&D references but it is strangely reminiscent of a fantasy adventure improvised by a group of students for a laugh. The unlikely situations, stereotyped characters and wise-cracking dialogue actually add to the atmosphere. It's only on the few occasions when the film starts taking itself seriously and characters pontificate about freedom and equality that things drag. Have some lead figures lying around ready to paint at these moments...

Dungeons & Dragons could be described as Star Wars meets Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Lord of the Rings... in a dark alley and bearing a grudge. The result is a mess but it's worth watching all the same just to see Tom Baker with pointy ears.

Conclusion: Travels beyond awful and out the other side.

Explosions: Some decent CGI dragon breath.
Dungeons: Four.
Dragons: Dozens.
Ideas ripped from elsewhere: All of them.
Killer Persian rugs: One.

Rating: 3/5.


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