Dungeons & Dragons (film)

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Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons and dragons poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Courtney Solomon
Produced by Courtney Solomon
Thomas M. Hammel
Kia Jam
Steve Richards
Written by Carroll Cartwright
Topper Lilien
Starring Justin Whalin
Marlon Wayans
Thora Birch
Zoe McLellan
Kristen Wilson
Lee Arenberg
with Bruce Payne
and Jeremy Irons
Music by Justin Caine Burnett
Cinematography Douglas Milsome
Edited by Caroline Ross
Production
company
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • December 8, 2000 (2000-12-08)
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Czech Republic
Language English
Budget $45 million
Box office $33,807,409

Dungeons & Dragons is a 2000 fantasy film directed by Courtney Solomon and based on the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Among the more notable features of the otherwise poorly received film are cameo appearances by Richard O'Brien (in a parody of his TV program The Crystal Maze) and Tom Baker. Parts of the film were made on location at Sedlec Ossuary.[1]

Despite its poor box-office performance, a made-for-TV sequel, Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God was released in 2005. It did not directly continue on the storyline of the previous film, though Bruce Payne's character, Damodar, makes a return. A third film, Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness, was shot in 2011[2] and direct-to-DVD released in the United Kingdom on August 9, 2012.

Plot[edit]

Jeremy Irons as Profion and Bruce Payne as Damodar

The Empire of Izmir has long been a divided land, ruled by the Mages, an elite group of magic users, who oppress the lower Commoners. The antagonist of the film, an evil mage named Profion (Jeremy Irons), creates a scepter that allows him to control golden dragons. He tries it out on a captured one, but the dragon breaks the spell of the sceptre, and Profion is forced to kill the dragon, which bleeds into the river, causing it to catch fire. Many of the inhabitants notice, among them the protagonists of the film, a pair of thieves named Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans). Ridley has always hated the mages, seeing them as greedy and uncaring. He conspires with Snails to break into the Magic School, the elite learning place of the Mages, and steal magic items.

Later, Profion and the Council talk about the controversial views of Empress Savina (Thora Birch), who wants to stop Profion and free the 'non-magic' commoners. Meanwhile, Ridley and Snails break into the Magic School but are caught by a young mage named Marina (Zoe McLellan) who casts a spell on them which ties them together with an invisible rope. She gets distracted, though, when the library wizard is held hostage and interrogated by Profion's henchman, Damodar (Bruce Payne), to force him to reveal a map to a magic scepter, the Rod of Savrille, that can control red dragons. He refuses to talk and sends the map to Marina, and is at once killed by Damodar. Marina gets the map and travels through a magic portal to escape, dragging Ridley and Snails with her. After crashing into a pile of garbage, they meet a dwarf named Elwood (Lee Arenberg), who ends up escaping with them through a sewer.

Damodar puts a price on Marina, Ridley, Snails and Elwood's heads. After learning that the protagonists got away with the map, Profion places a tentacled monster inside Damodar's head as punishment. The protagonists hide in a tavern and, while reading the map, Ridley and Marina get sucked into it. Damodar and his henchmen arrive and attempt to capture Snails and Elwood and the map, but they manage to get away. Outside the inn, Ridley and Marina exit the map and they all agree to work together to find the Rod of Savrille. They have to find a red ruby called the Eye of the Dragon that can open the door to a tomb where the Rod rests. The ruby is located inside a hazardous maze that is owned by a thief named Xilus (Richard O'Brien) who will give them the Eye if Ridley can obtain the ruby and survive the maze. Ridley manages to get the Eye of the Dragon, but Xilus attempts to take it by force when Damodar shows up. Marina gets captured while Ridley, Snails and Elwood escape, meeting an elf named Norda (Kristen Wilson). Norda works as a tracker for the Empress and informs her about Profion's plans to get the Rod of Saville. Meanwhile, Damodar tries interrogating Marina. When she refuses to talk, he uses the tentacles of the monster in his head to gain the knowledge he seeks.

Ridley and Snails break into the castle where Marina is imprisoned to rescue her, while Norda and Elwood stay behind. They split up and Ridley finds Marina. Snails falls into a quicksand trap in Damodar's room after finding the map and some magical powder. Snails is then chased through the castle by Damodar, while Ridley and Marina fight to get back out. They follow Snails and Damodar to the roof where Snails is killed by Damodar when he throws the map to Ridley. Ridley becomes enraged at Damodar and attacks him, but Damodar disarms him and stabs him in the shoulder with his own sword. In the confusion Marina grabs some of the magic dust that Snails pilfered and casts a spell to knock down Damodar. She and Ridley then escape through a portal, leaving the corpse of Snails behind.

Back at the council chambers, Profion and Empress Savina battle over the future of Izmir. Meanwhile, an elf named Halvarth (Tom Baker) heals Norda's soldiers and Ridley. Ridley has a dream of a dragon being born, and learns that if Profion and Savina go to war, it will tip the balance of magic in the world.

Later, Ridley accuses Marina of being an "evil mage", because of the Mages' oppressions of the Commoners. Marina tells Ridley that he is wrong, and that the Empress is trying to resolve all of the things that Ridley hates. Eventually, they become love interests and Ridley uses the 'Eye of the Dragon' to finally get the Rod of Savrille, which is held by the skeleton of Savrille in the tomb. The skeleton comes to life and warns Ridley that "anyone who wields the power of the rod shall suffer a horrible fate". Meanwhile, Damodar arrives outside and captures the other three. When Ridley comes out, Damodar requests the Rod in exchange for his companions. Ridley gives the Rod to Damodar, who orders his execution along with his friends and then turns to leave through a portal to complete his mission. Norda and Elwood break free from their guards and free Marina from hers, and they all follow Ridley through the portal to the capital city of Sumdall.

Meanwhile, in Sumdall, Profion uses mages to fight the Empress. Savina calls forth golden dragons and they fight the mages. Damodar arrives with the Rod, and Profion reluctantly frees Damodar from the creature in his head (this is addressed in Wrath of the Dragon God). Profion then climbs to a high platform to summon red dragons to fight the golden ones. Ridley arrives and battles Damodar, stabbing him and throwing him from the ledge, avenging Snails. He then attacks Profion, who disarms him and shoves him back. Ridley's companions arrive and fight Profion one at a time. Ridley picks up the fallen Rod of Savrille, and uses it to stop the red dragons. Marina encourages Ridley to use the Rod to bring Profion down, but Ridley realizes the Rod's power is corrupting him and destroys it. Empress Savina arrives and condemns Profion, who fights her with powerful magic, but she succeeds in summoning a golden dragon to devour him. She praises all of the adventurers, hailing them as heroes.

Ridley later visits Snails' grave (with a voiceover of Savina telling the people of Izmer that they are now all equal), where he tells Snails that he is now "Ridley the Savior," echoing Snails' claim at the beginning of the film. Snails' engraved name then disappears and Norda tells Ridley not to question his abilities. Ridley, Norda, Marina and Elwood then touch the Eye of the Dragon and magically disappear, ending the film.

Cast[edit]

Reaction[edit]

Critical reaction to the film was largely negative. The film has a score of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 91 reviews, the consensus stating: "Critics say this movie has a cheap look and is badly directed. Despite the presence of talented actors, the performances are really bad, and additionally, some people are offended at Marlon Wayans' character, calling it a racist throwback to black stereotypes."[3] Geoff Pevere of the Toronto Star called the film "A wheezy quest story steeped in hobbity gibberish and second-hand Star Wars costumery, featuring a cast so uniformly uncharismatic you may pine for the methody depths of Kerwin Mathews (apart, of course, from the reversely charismatic Irons), the movie has the cheap software look of something found on the Space channel at 4 a.m.".[4] Steve Biodrowski of mania.com comments: "Let's just say that if it weren't for Lost Souls (also a New Line release, coincidentally), this would be a strong contender for the Worst Film of the Year."[5] In February 2010, the readers of Empire voted Dungeons & Dragons the 39th worst film of all time.[6]

Solomon blamed the quality of the film on its investors and license-holders' interference, as well as his own inexperience in filmmaking. He states that he had only intended to produce the film, but was forced to direct by his investors after nearly a decade of complications dealing with TSR and Wizards of the Coast. He also claims that he was forced to use an older script despite having written an updated version that fit the Dungeons and Dragons license better.[7]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #5 at the North American box office making USD$7,237,422 in its opening weekend.[8] The film would go on to gross $15,220,685 in the domestic box office, short of the film's $45 million budget, and with an international gross of $18,586,724, coming up with a worldwide total of $33,807,409.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Subject Result
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards[10] Worst Picture Courtney Solomon Nominated
Thomas M. Hammel Nominated
Kia Jam Nominated
Steve Richards Nominated
Worst Sense of Direction Courtney Solomon Nominated
Worst Supporting Actor Jeremy Irons Nominated
Worst Supporting Actress Thora Birch Nominated
Worst On-Screen Group The entire cast Nominated
Most Intrusive Musical Score Justin Caine Burnett Nominated
Least "Special" Special Effects Nominated
Most Unfunny Comic Relief Marlon Wayans as Snails Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Supporting Young Actress Thora Birch Nominated
Saturn Awards Cinescape Genre Face of the Future Award Nominated

Roleplaying game[edit]

Wizards of the Coast released a Fast-Play Game based on the movie called "The Sewers of Sumdall". It is a DVD-ROM feature on the DVD as a printable PDF file.[11][12]

References[edit]

External links[edit]