Thursday, 16 April 2015

Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005)

The first Dungeons & Dragons movie was so catastrophically inept that the sort-of sequel could be a comparative triumph simply by being merely "not very good".  Which is exactly what it achieved.

We begin with a long and rather purple voice-over from Damodar, who is what passes for the antagonist of the piece.  We learn that he's searching for a magic doohickey that will Grant Him Great Power and also Relieve Him of the Terrible Curse of Undeath (you can hear the capital letters in the dialogue, trust me).  This is all fairly tedious and frankly we're going to have it expositioned at us a half-dozen times over the next eighty minutes so I wish they'd skipped it and done some radical like, oh, starting us with the protagonist.

Said protagonist is Sir Berek, a former knight and heroic adventurer, now retired.  Though high in the King's favour and blessed with a loving marriage to a beautiful woman, Berek's a bit glum about having to hang up his hero-ing boots.  If you suspect that the movie's about to give him a chance to get back in the adventuring saddle, then have a gold star.

Berek and his wife become aware that Damodar has stolen a magical orb that sealed the prison of the terrible Dragon God Falazure.  Within a few days, Falazure will awaken and Bad Things will ensue.  Learning this comes at a cost, though, as Damodar magically afflicts Berek's wife with a curse that will slowly transform him into the same sort of undead creature he used to be.

It's thus up to Berek to assemble a motley crew of adventurers and uncover his own magic widget so that he can locate Damodar, recover the orb, and save both the kingdom and his wife.

There's nothing all that terrible, nor all that exciting, about the synopsis I just gave you, and "not all that terrible, nor all that exciting" is probably a good summation of the film, really.  It delivers a pretty standard fantasy adventure tale with pretty standard low budget effects and acting.  It does pepper things with various D&D-isms, so if you're a gaming geek like me there are a few amusing moments in seeing recognisable spells and magic items from the game being employed on-screen, but for the average viewer they'll sail by unnoticed.

At the end of the day I can't really recommend this unless you're a D&D tragic like me.  There are better fantasy films, and there are fantasy films that aren't better but are at least more ambitious (hello there, Krull).  If you really need a fantasy fix, I suggest you watch one of those, instead.  Or just fire up Game of Thrones like everyone else seems to be.

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