Updated: Aug 9, 2022
Dungeons & Dragons is one of the most popular board games among younger folk. A game that brings friends closer together by using your imagination and a pinch of luck. The game is so popular that it remains a core staple in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. Speaking of which, recently Paramount Pictures announced a film based off the Dungeons & Dragons game called Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves slated for a 2023 release. So why not take a look back at the first attempt at making a D&D film?
An evil and powerful mage named Profion (played by Jeremy Irons) wishes to rule over the Empire of Izmir by controlling the gold dragons with a lost magical scepter. The council of the mages wishes to remove the Princess of Izmir (played by Thora Birch) from power due to her controversial views. Meanwhile, two thieves Ridley (played by Justin Whalin) and Snails (played by Marlon Wayans) sneak into magical school to steal anything to make them rich. They are caught by Marina (played by Zoe McLellan), a mage apprentice who possesses the map to the scepter. Profion sends his right hand man Damodar (played by Bruce Payne) after the trio as they try to get the scepter before Damodar.
Let me preface by saying that I have never really been into Dungeons & Dragons. However, I can understand why people find it to be so fun. Dungeons & Dragons offers numerous opportunities of fun and adventure, both which are lacking in the film adaptation. Instead, the film has the audience follow a group of protagonists that are thinner than the paper they were written on. They had no other distinguishing characteristics outside of their chosen character roles. Ridley is the stereotypical bland cocky male protagonist while Snails is the bumbling comic relief best friend. While I like Marlon Wayans as an actor, and he has been great in movies like Requiem for a Dream and On the Rocks, I couldn’t stand him in this movie. This is sad, especially since Wayans had prior experience playing the game in high school.
The other supporting characters are even less remarkable. However, the villains, especially Profion, are a completely different story. Jeremy Irons goes all in on the cheese factor, hamming up his character to the nth degree. Throughout the entire film, I was constantly entertained by Irons’ over the top performance and facial expressions. In fact, his performance was the only thing that kept me from turning the film off or falling asleep at how awful it is. Before I move on to talk about the production, I want to say that I hate most of the names of the characters. First off, who has a name like Snails?! I she really slow or does he just really like snails? Profion sounds like some rejected over-the-counter headache medicine and every time I hear the name Ridley, I keep thinking of Ridley from the Metroid games!
Dungeons & Dragons (2000) was directed by Courtney Solomon. Production took about eight and a half months and the film used a plethora of live locations for many scenes. For example, Profion’s lair was shot in the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic. In fact, Dungeons & Dragons (2000) was the first film to be shot there. Solomon wanted to shoot a big blockbuster that was more plot driven yet still was a visual spectacle to enjoy. Unfortunately for him, 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons failed in both categories. The story itself never deviated from the formulaic action-adventure story and the special effects were absolutely abysmal to look at. Much of the CGI looked like it was still being rendered before our eyes. Despite this, there were some decent practical effects. For example, the carpet that Snails sinks into was actually made of 6,000 liters of Oatmeal! Additionally, most of the actors did their own stunts and trained extensively for the film.
Despite being a box office bomb in addition to receiving scathing reviews, there were two more direct-to-DVD sequels to Dungeons & Dragons (2000). Why? I really don’t know. The first sequel was released in 2005 and titled Wrath of the Dragon God which revolves around Damodar as he exacts his revenge on Izmir over the events of the first film. As the film took place one hundred years after the first one, none of the original actors, save for Bruce Payne, returned for the sequel. The final sequel was released in 2012 and titled The Book of Vile Darkness. Seriously, what kind of a name is that? They couldn’t have titled it The Book of Darkness?
At the end of the day, 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons is another prime example of a horrible game adaptation. With a boring cookie-cutter story, bad acting and absolutely shoddy special effects, it’s no wonder why this movie has consistently made the top worst movies list. While Paramount’s reboot may break the adaptation curse, it’s no surprise that some people would be rather unenthusiastic when another Dungeons & Dragons film is announced.