Film version of the classic sword and sorcery game. In the Empire of Izmer power rests in the hands of the Mages - a group of elite magic users - and the lower classes live a life of poverty and subjection. When Izmer's ruler dies, his daughter Savina (Thora Birch) is sworn in and vows to put an end to these inequalities. But the evil Mage Profion (Jeremy Irons) wants to claim power for himself, and tricks the Mages Council into believing Savina is unfit to rule. Savina then bands together with a group of adventurers and goes in search of the magic rod which will help her overcome Profion and bring justice to the Empire.
A sword and sorcery fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons
the film is based on the role-playing game first introduced in the 1970s. It delivers some of the same kind of fantasy and fun the game offered, as its youthful heroes journey through a magical kingdom battling with the forces of evil. One or two scenes (such as someone having their brain sucked out by a nasty thing with tentacles) might upset very young children. But many of the special effects look tame compared to state-of-the-art films like The Matrix
(the dragons in particular are rather wimpish), and though you do need full-blooded acting for this sort of thing, Jeremy Irons goes way over the top as the wicked wizard Profion. Marlon Wayans is supposed to provide some street-wise comedy, but is simply annoying. If you enjoyed playing the game you might like this, but there's a lot of competition in the fantasy film genre these days, and Dungeons and Dragons
isn't really up to it. --Ed Buscombe
On the DVD: This one disc is packed full of extra features. The film and special effects are breathtaking in needle-sharp Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic transfer. As for the soundtrack, you haven't heard a dragon roar until you hear it in Dolby 5.1 or 2.0 Surround. The director Courtney Solomon, Justin Whalin who plays the hero Ridley, and the Dungeons and Dragons game co-creator Dave Arneson, offer one commentary track, which is a bit inane and doesn't really add anything to the film. However, the second commentary with Solomon, Arneson and cinematographer Doug Milsome is much more intelligent and offers some great info about the filming of specific scenes. Along with the UK trailer, there are two special features--a 20-minute "Making of" featurette, with some entertaining stuff about how Solomon secured the rights to the D&D universe and the creation of the special effects, CGI, costumes and make-up and a 14-minute special feature on the legacy of Dungeons and Dragons. There are 12 deleted scenes, most of which are pretty near completion (save a few blue screens here and there) and the more adrenalin-pumped scenes are broken down in stages to show how the SFX were created. For those who have seen the film and want to play the game, on the DVD-ROM there is also a playable demo of Black Isle's computer game sequel, Shadows of Amn. --Kristen Bowditch