Dungeons & Dragons (2000) / Fantasy-Action
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for fantasy action violence
Running time: 107 min.
Cast: Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Zoe McLellan, Thora Birch
Director: Courtney Solomon
Screenplay: Topper Lilien, Carroll Cartwright
Review published December 10, 2000
During the early 80s, sword and sorcery films like Conan the Barbarian and Wizards & Warriors were the action staple, so it's a bit odd to find this anachronism coming out in the middle of the Christmas season of 2000. With the popularity of the role playing game on the decline for over a decade, this is clearly a film that not only didn't deserve to be made, and after viewing the final results, no one deserves to see no matter how heinous a bastard he is.
Dungeons & Dragons takes place in the land of Izmer, where the powerful mages rule over the powerless hordes of humans and other creatures that inhabit the empire. A young empress (Birch, American Beauty) is on the verge to rule the empire, but the scheming master-mage Profion (Irons, The Man in the Iron Mask) thwarts her at every instance, asking for her to relinquish the magic scepter that, among other things, can control the majestic gold dragons of the land. Rightly thinking that Profion will be successful, the empress seeks to obtain another long lost scepter which is just as powerful but which controls red dragons, to counteract Profion's schemes. Two thieves are enlisted by a fellow mage to seek the priceless artifact, but Profion's men are hot on their trail.
Jeremy Irons gets star billing despite minimal screen time with a particularly bad portrayal in over-the-top evil. The actual star is Justin Whalin (Child's Play 3, Serial Mom), whose uncanny resemblance to MTV's Duff can explain the annoyance I felt whenever he was in front of the camera. Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2) is there for "comic relief" playing a stereotypical black youth (the film is under the assumption that Black men, even in mythological lands, will act like homeboys regardless of the area they grew up in) in ways that make an otherwise bad film excruciating. There is an emphasis on special effects and costumed pageantry, perhaps too much, as many of the scenes and characters are contrived merely for the excuse to show more of them.
Dungeons & Dragons probably won't even be liked by hardcore fans of the game, as it's just a typical sword and sorcery movie which paid for the use of the title. Ninety minutes of uninspired filmmaking produces nothing more than cheap Star Wars plagiarism, hokey humor, and unpleasant confrontations. Like 90% of those predecessors in it's genre, it's terrible. This is one throwback film that deserves to be thrown back.
©2000 Vince Leo