At last, I’m taking a look at the film adaptation of the classic fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons. Many people aren’t even aware that Dungeons & Dragons was turned into a live action movie. After screening the film, I have to admit that they’re not missing much. Dungeons & Dragons was a very cringe-worthy experience. If it weren’t for the fact that its supposedly “based on” the best selling card game, I could have easily mistaken it for an Uwe Boll film. On second though, given that Uwe Boll adapts video games, maybe this could have been a Uwe Boll film!


I might be reacting too harshly, but Dungeons & Dragons has very little in the movie to recommend it to others. Most of the harsh reviews for the earnest-but-badly-made direct-to-DVD Dragonlance film should have probably been directed towards its live action cousin, instead. Both of them are nominally based on the Dungeons & Dragons property, but this one is a live action movie based on the original game, and the far worst adaptation of the two. It captures almost nothing from the card game, aside from using some similar character names, objects, and locations.


One thing that can be said for Dungeons & Dragons is the movie features a surprisingly solid cast. Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Thora Birch, Bruce Payne. They appear to be aware that they’re making a piece of crap, since most of the actors in the film give terrible performances and I honestly expected better. Jeremy Irons, in particular, seems to deliberately overact so much that its almost like he was filming a parody of these types of movies. You can even watch the trailer for the movie and see yourself how ridiculous it is in only two minutes. Marlon Wayans’ is supposed to be the “comic relief” in the movie. His acting is not as poor, although the script gives him little to work with and he just comes across as annoying and falls flat. (Ironically, Irons “serious” bad guy role is much more amusing because he camps it up so much) Thora Birch has always been hit and miss for me, and this movie is definitely an example of “miss”.


A lot of the action in the movie takes place on the balcony of a castle, and the battle scenes actually look fairly cool – albeit in a “Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones” sort of way. That is, there’s plenty of very sleek CGI fights taking place, but it looks like all the overblown Star Wars prequel space battles, except the ships are replaced with dragons. People who defend the video game like fight scenes in Man of Steel should really enjoy the action in this film. The rest of us will probably have some problems with it – even if it looks “kewl” at first glance.


I’m giving Dungeons & Dragons one and a half stars, mostly of the basis that the movie has numerous examples of “so bad its good” qualities. It is a textbook example of where the audience can get enjoyment out of some scenes for the wrong reasons. Terrible acting (from ordinarily good actors), ridiculous clichés, crazy CGI, and bad stereotyping are among the things you’ll find appearing in this movie when you least expect it, if you’re willing to hunt down this movie and give it a look just to see things for yourself. Overall I felt this movie was an insult to its title, but I still enjoyed watching it at times. Dungeons & Dragons isn’t just garbage – it’s beautiful garbage.


* ½ out of ****


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