Saturday, September 10, 2011

Movie Review: Dungeons and Dragons

This week's review is for 2000's Dungeons & Dragons, the labor of love of a then...well, really still pretty much unknown Courtney Solomon, driven only by his desire to make a movie about the famous role-playing game. Though a critical and financial failure (according to IMDb the movie lost 1.2 million dollars worldwide) I must admit that I actually enjoyed this movie, which is exactly why I decided to write this review slamming it.

Don't worry, it'll all make sense by the end.

Let's start with the actors. Even if you're capable of looking at Justin Whalin and not seeing Jimmy Olsen, who he played on the TV show Lois & Clark, he's still just a bit too irritating and childish to be heroic. Zoe McLellan creates a female lead so wooden they could have subbed her out for a cardboard cutout and no one would notice. The most enjoyable performance in the movie is Jeremy Irons as the villain, as he enacts his evil plot to chew up all scenery everywhere, which is sad because Jeremy Irons hated this movie and intentionally overacted as revenge against the director. To put it simply, when Marlon Wayans gives one of the best performances in your movie (and your movie isn't Requiem for a Dream) you have a problem.

Even worse than the acting, however, is the plot. This is due mostly to the deleted scenes, many of which are actually kind of important to the story and without them the already grandiose plot just becomes incomprehensible and ridiculous. Without them we don't know why the hero hates his dad, why he wants to find the magical McGuffin despite repeatedly stating he doesn't care, why it's so important that the villain be defeated, or any number of other important things. The editing is so bad that we don't even find out the name of one of the main characters (Elwood the dwarf) until we see it in the credits, because the scene where he introduces himself got cut.

As much as I did enjoy watching this movie, there is only one rating I can logically give it.

KR Rating: 2 BAD

The reason I decided to do this review is to prove a point. That being, that how good a movie is and how much you like that movie are entirely seperate concerns. The fact that you like a movie does not automatically make it good. Case in point: I like this movie, but it is, objectively, bad.

At the same time, liking a movie that is bad does not make you stupid, or show that you have poor taste. There's definitely something to enjoy here, as long as you're willing to put up with the movie's flaws. The movie had ambition, ambition that was mostly squandered granted, but ambition nonetheless.

Dungeons and Dragons set out to be great and ended up bad, but the fact that they tried gave the movie individuality and heart. Comparatively, the sequel, 2005's Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God set out to be "okay" and succeeded. The movie is objectively better as a movie, the plot makes more sense, the acting is better, but the movie has no soul. There's absolutely nothing differentiating it from any of the hundreds of other generic fantasy movies out there.

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