If you’re a fan of the “Dungeons & Dragons” movies, you have a chance to pick up both of them in one fine package, prepped and ready for Blu-ray. The “Dungeons & Dragons: 2-Movie Collection” is now available and includes hi-def transfers of both films on separate discs.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
I find it odd that this movie took so long to make it onto the big screen. I remember when the role-playing game was big in the 1980s, although I only dabbled in it myself. But considering the 80s were the heyday of big fantasy films like “Willow,” “Krull,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and “Dragonslayer,” I would have expected a big-screen adaptation of it earlier.
The story follows several characters as they try to stop the evil mage Profion (Jeremy Irons) from taking control of the Empire of Izmer. Playing out very similar to the game itself, the characters have different skills and abilities – from magic to fighting power. This is a quest film, and yes, it does send them into some dungeons. They also definitely encounter dragons.
The problem with this movie is that it feels too much like a TV movie. Maybe it was the 2000-era special effects, which allowed filmmakers to use digital creatures and environment but didn’t offer them the finesse to made anything look real. Maybe it was because the film held onto too many anachronistic elements. Honestly, when I saw Marlon Wayans throw up a gangsta peace sign at one point, I checked out.
Or maybe it was because the filmmakers cast the goofy Marlon Wayans opposite the impish Justin Whalin as the hero.
Still, Jeremy Irons gives his all in over-the-top bad acting in this film. For a totally mindless piece of silly fun, it plays out like a Saturday morning cartoon.
The bonus material includes deleted scenes and an alternate ending. There are two commentary tracks, one featuring director Courtney Solomon with Justin Whalin, and the other featuring Solomon again with cinematographer and game co-creator Dave Arneson.
There’s also the meaty documentary “Let the Games Begin” about the development of the game into the film, a making-of featurette, special effects deconstruction and the theatrical trailer.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: WRATH OF THE DRAGON GOD
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
In some ways, the sequel to “Dungeons & Dragons” is better than the original, and in other ways, it’s worse. This made-for-TV follow-up continues the story of the Damodar, who survived from the first film as the undead. He is searching for an ancient artifact to bring down Izmar, and it’s up to a band of adventurers to defeat him.
Part of what makes this better is my expectations were lowered. I didn’t expect feature film quality, or great acting for that matter. So when the film came off feeling like a TV movie, it didn’t bother me. Less ambition and lead to lower expectations, which leads to less disappointment.
Plus, the team of adventurers had more chemistry. They gelled together better simply because no one was trying to grandstand. Marlon Wayans wasn’t trying to be too funny, and Justin Whalen wasn’t trying to relive his glory days as a potential heartthrob.
If you like fantasy television series like “Legend of the Seeker,” “Xena: Warrior Princess” and anything from the Asylum library, you might enjoy a silly little slice of made-for-TV fun with this flick.
The Blu-ray comes with a commentary with Wizards of the Coast D&D special projects manager Ed Start and several other D&D players. There’s also a making-of featurette called “Rolling the Dice,” as well as “The Arc: A Conversation with Gary Gygax” about the legacy of Dungeons & Dragons.