Seen: “Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God” ★★✰✰✰


Who in their right mind would have thought that I’d watch a D&D flick again after that first one. I actually watched D&D at a press screening, because I was working for Mattel Interactive, then publisher of Pool of Radiance – Ruins of Myth Drannor. I can highly recommend press screening, free tickets, free popcorn, empty cinema, and months before anyone else gets to see the movie.

In the case of D&D, it was horrible. If anything is an indicator for suck, it is the reverberatingly loud slap of my friend Martin’s hand hitting his face in writer’s pain.

I was also asked to be the movie company’s roleplaying advisor, but I couldn’t say yes after I saw the film.

BUT as I now feed on fantasy for our upcoming “Dungeons” game, to get in the right mood, I also put D&D 2 on my Lovefilm flat rate list.

Well, it’s better as a movie. In D&D1 we had more classic low-level situations, but that plot and villain were just awful. This time dungeons can be entered in groups, not only alone. What I think is interesting is that the movie was even more of a flop than #1. According to IMDB, D&D1 grossed half of its 30 million budget, and D&D2, with half that budget, didn’t reach a million. AND there are more D&D movies after it.

They have succeeded in cutting out the moments of total failure this time, but what is left is just plain straight generic fantasy. I don’t think there was any scene which made me hot for roleplaying, IT Crowd Season 4 Episode 1 does a 4 times better job, and that’s comedy, but done by somebody who actually knows good roleplaying!

It’s super rare that a movie gets made about a roleplaying game. So why oh why does no one try to capture the spirit and magic of a good roleplaying group? I honestly believe, they check out 1 group of novice players and think “I got it”. Then they head off to write a simple, childish script of basic D&D spirit: Everyone is an archetype, but not in a good way. In a “I am a random generated two dimensional piece of paper” way.

Everything anybody says is soulless and efficient. Every 2nd line is exposition. “I can do that because I have that skill!” “That happened because that magic does this…” BLA. JUST LIKE the programs in TRON. Programmed to be a fantasy character class. “See! I am a rogue! I disarm traps! Look there is a trap! I just disarmed a trap!”

The villain is 100% evil here, and he talks to himself in an evil way, slow and menacing, all the time. I like the main character, though, he has at least something happening under that shell (He feels he doesn’t have it anymore but then rises to the chance). And I liked the female elf, she was looking just right and hot. The other female characters look like they have just walked in from an episode of Baywatch.

There is no real character growth. The only thing they have learned is “damn we forgot about another way to kill the final boss”. Then the end just comes, hops of a cliff and dies.

It’s nowhere as BADD as the end of D&D1, where suddenly all characters meet on top of a tower, like at the end of a school play. But it doesn’t mean anything. At least to me.

Let’s look at it like this: Comic book movies have grown, movies like “Dark Knight” are for adults, serious, deep. D&D2 is clearly for children, who are happy about flat black and white cardboard characters, and very basic D&D sessions. IMAGINE that the movies had not learned more about comic books after the Batman series with Adam West.

I know, maybe I want too much out of it. I am obviously hardcore, having 100 roleplaying books in my basement. I just KNOW that there is so much untapped magic in a well-done roleplaying session. I mean, the best groups I was in hardly used dice at all. There were wild characters, with a lot of depth, a lot of spontaneous dialogue, fear, sadness, anger, excitement, great and breathtaking plots.

Too long, didn’t read. Music hmm well, sound guys: 12. Average I think.

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