So, today’s review is the first request I’ve received. A friend of mine wished for me to review a particular movie, and so I decided to take this request, and will be taking any review request from now if there’s a film you wish to hear my opinion on.
The film in question is Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. I should probably point out that I’ve never actually played D&D before, so, many of the references I feel are rather lost on me. I’ve LARPed long enough to catch some, but anything specific I am assuming has just gone over my head.
Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God is the sequel to that terrible first movie released in 2000. However, this movie has next to nothing to do with the original aside from the main villain. And, no, sadly I am not referring to that hammy, overacting piece of cheese played by Jeremy Irons.
Instead they decided to bring back…blue lipstick man?
This movie tells the story of the evil Damodar, who’s lost his ichiban lipstick for men and now wishes to destroy Izmir by summoning a giant dragon through the power of a glowing black orb thingy. Meanwhile some guy I don’t care about forms a group of wasted character potential to stop him while his wife suffers from the curse of looking like someone smeared plaster all over her face.
Now, let’s just talk about Damodar for a second. While losing that godawful lipstick was a step up from the first movie, his appearance doesn’t so much suggest an intimidating villain as it suggests that Game of Thrones’ next twist will be the reveal that Varys has a younger brother who spends most of his time attempting a terrible cosplay of the Three Eyed Raven. On the subject of Varys, I feel the need to point out that if GoT has taught us anything, it’s that making a harmless looking bald guy seem intimidating involves giving that character a subtle and sneaky personality, and while he may not seem all that “intimidating” at first, the fact that he knows what you had for breakfast two weeks ago and will be able to use it against you will make him a credible and unpredictable threat. Damodar on the other hand goes for your typical hammy evil sorcerer personality. I can’t say I’m that intimidated.
Unfortunately, Damodar is in fact one of the better handled characters in the movie. Our heroes basically consist of a typical group of fantasy heroes. The leader, a barbarian warrior woman, an elven sorceress, some cleric guy, and the sneaky rogue. About the only one who comes across as remotely interesting is the rogue, who at least seems to have some personality as well as a competent actor playing him. The problem with the rest of them is simple: none of them go far enough. Given the premise, I would expect them all to be over the top and cheesy in a charming sort of way, each pushing their defined role as much as possible. Instead, they’re all so subdued that they fail to be even remotely interesting. So much of their dialogue focuses purely on exposition and, once again with the exception of the rogue (and the barbarian to a small extent), we so rarely see them having casual conversations that actually give us insight into their character. To make matters worse, it feels as though a good deal of the actors were amateurs, being given direction from an amateur.
And there’s the biggest problem with this movie. It is so incredibly amateur. Nothing about the writing, acting, effects or art direction ever stands out as impressive. It’s all clearly being done by people with minimal experience on a limited budget.
In fact, I’d say one of this movie’s biggest issues is the lack of budget, and, more importantly, the fact that the creators don’t seem to know how to handle a lack of budget. If you want to make a fantasy movie on a limited budget, then high fantasy (i.e. grand traditional Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy) is a terrible idea. It’s much better to make something that only needs a limited amount of SFX or art direction. Films like Troll Hunter that are set in modern day, and are only focused on one fantastical thing like monsters who only appear at night work because they aren’t supposed to look grandiose or fancy, but just a regular setting that occasionally features CGI creatures.High fantasy films require so much more detail from the costumes to the prosthetics to the CGI that it’s just not worth attempting when you clearly don’t have the money to pay for anything of high quality.
Or of any quality at all when it comes to the CGI
This film’s effects are so poor. The CGI looks more like bad stop motion, and the practical prosthetics are quite clearly fake.Watching them made it seem more like the movie was a kid’s fantasy tv series being made for CBBC. And, in all honesty, that format would have worked MUCH better for this movie. The film’s plot is so all over the place and hard to follow, and the characters are so boring and underdeveloped that actually giving it all a little more time to expand on everything, as well as an excuse for the low grade special effects (and juvenile writing) might have given it a bit more of a chance at being, well, worthwhile.
So, to conclude, there’s so little I really have to see about this movie, because it fails in such an understandable way. I get it, they had no budget and not enough experience. Usually when I tear into a movie it’s because the film fails spectacularly and comes from people who should know better. Here, there is no spectacular failure, because it’s not from people who should know better. I’m sure the people behind this were trying their best, and while that doesn’t excuse it, it makes ripping into it feel almost a little hollow.