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DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS

SYNOPSIS:
The land of Izmer is ruled by the elite Magurs who are capable of creating magic. Izmer's idealistic Empress, Savina (Thora Birch) is determined to bring peace by promising equality for Mages and commoners. To overthrow Savina, evil council member Profion seeks the legendary Rod of Sarville which has the power to control the red dragons of Izmer and defeat the golden dragons loyal to the Empress. The future of Izmer hangs in the balance when thief Ridley (Justin Whalin), his sidekick Snails (Marlon Wayans) and Mage apprentice magician Marina (Zoe McLellan) become involved in the hunt for the Rod and must elude Profion's ruthless henchman Damodar (Bruce Payne) to save the Empress.

"I played the role-playing game of Dungeons and Dragons for a few weeks when I was a teenager but lost interest when my character, a thief, fell foul of something called a 'shambling mound'. I lost interest in this film the moment Jeremy Irons launched into the hammiest pantomime villain performance you're ever likely to witness from an Oscar-winning actor. Irons must have inspired the rest of the cast who misbehave just as badly or even worse as this incredibly cheesy-looking and appallingly written tale of good vs evil unfolds. You'd expect a film called Dungeons and Dragons to at least offer the dragons a significant role to play but we never really know what they do or are supposed to do, even in the climactic scenes which finds hundreds of them flying around Izmer doing.... well, not much really. This film is so disjointed and inconsistent it's remarkable to learn that director Courtney Solomon spent 8 years planning it. One minute we're in computer generated Izmer which looks like a mediaeval version of a Blade Runner metropolis, then we're in authentic old castles in the Czech republic where hopefully Irons and company enjoyed some splendid food and lodgings for having to deliver the most godawful dialogue. Every now and then there's an attempt to duplicate the bar scene from Star Wars but there are only a handful of weirdos in attendance; the rest are regulars like you and me except they've been bussed in by Prague central casting. The plot should be a cinch to follow but is overly complicated and so confusing in the end we don't know what sceptre does what and which magical ruby belongs where. As for the armour worn by the Crimson Guards who follow Damodar around, all you can say is 'how did they get those baking trays sewn on so neatly'. Dungeons and Dragons is bad alright but not so gloriously awful it makes it into the exalted ranks of 'must be seen to be disbelieved' films. Watching this wretched mess makes Mortal Kombat seem like a sophisticated and uplifting morality play."
Richard Kuipers

"The ultimate geek game of the 90s finally makes it to the big screen in Dungeons and Dragons. Director Courtney Solomon tried for 10 years to make the film but regrettably the result is less than inspiring. The whole film plays like an extended episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, with ever more ridiculous scenarios and ever more corny dialogue. The production uses a mix of real locations and CGI to create the mythical Empire; but the elements do not sit comfortably together leading to a disjointed feel. The story, involving a quest for a sceptre that can save the Empress, is a well-worn one and as presented here lacks the epic scope required to make it work. Perhaps itís the extensive use of American actors with distinctive American accents (they even use phrases like "Check it out"), or the obvious need to employ elements from the game itself, but the whole thing feels fake. The cast is a mixed bag. Justin Whalin tries gamely and brings an all-American good guy veneer to the hero Ridley, but is clearly out of his depth in the acting stakes. Marlon Wayans inexplicably plays Snails in much the same vein as his character in Scary Movie (!), which is simply inappropriate in the context of this film. Thora Birch is miscast as the young Empress; and both Bruce Payne and Jeremy Irons mug incessantly as the bad guys. There are some exciting visuals; particularly those involving the dragons, which are in themselves a triumph of CGI design. But overall, Dungeons and Dragons is a misfire (pardon the pun) and recommended only for hardened D&D enthusiasts."
David Edwards



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Thora Birch

PRODUCERS: Thomas M. Hammel, Kia Jam, Courtney Solomon,

DIRECTOR: Courtney Solomon

SCRIPT: Topper Lilien, Carroll Cartwright

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Douglas Milsome

EDITOR: Caroline Ross (I)

MUSIC: Justin Caine Burnett

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bryce Perrin

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: REP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 18, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR:Rocvale Film

VIDEO RETAIL RELEASE: April 19, 2001







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