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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great for fans
I've been a fan of Dragonlance for years and so of course a film of the books really couldn't fail to be a good thing. Yes a big blockbuster like the lord of the rings series would have been better but you cant have everything.
This is a pretty good rendition of the first book for those of us who just want a nice enjoyable film to watch, although there are bits...
Published on 15 May 2010 by A. Mcclellan

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A review from a long time DL fan
I've been a Dragonlance fan since I was 15. I'm 24 now and I'm still hooked. So needless to say I was eagerly awaiting this, even if my expectations weren't high. I could so easily see how this could go wrong. So I snapped up the US DVD as soon as it was released and can confirm that it HAS gone all wrong, just not in the ways I expected.

The main problem is...
Published on 18 July 2008 by BiafronPunk


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A review from a long time DL fan, 18 July 2008
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This review is from: Dragonlance - Dragons Of Autumn Twilight [DVD] (DVD)
I've been a Dragonlance fan since I was 15. I'm 24 now and I'm still hooked. So needless to say I was eagerly awaiting this, even if my expectations weren't high. I could so easily see how this could go wrong. So I snapped up the US DVD as soon as it was released and can confirm that it HAS gone all wrong, just not in the ways I expected.

The main problem is that the animation is awful. Really and truly awful. As has been said many times before the 2D animation would be passable for an 80's kids cartoon, but frankly is not acceptable by today's standards. The Dungeons and Dragons cartoon series had better animation and is over 20 years old now. The 3D animation is also lacking and really is quite pointless as it doesn't really fit well with the overall 2D style, though, bizarrely it does still have the same stuttering framerate. So this film is a dog to look at, but it's not all bad.

The soundtrack is pretty good. While it doesn't jump out at you fits well and really makes you wish they had the animation to match. The voice acting is variable. While Michelle Trachtenberg is unconvincing as Tika, Michael Rosenbaum is passable as Tanis, and Keifer Sutherland totally nails Raistlin (Raistlin is easily the best thing about this DVD).

The direction is amaturish though. Firstly the attempt to shorten it to 90 minutes was a mistake as many well loved scenes from the book had to be cut and those that are there are rushed through so quickly that it struggles and largely fails to build any drama. Plus they give away a big twist from later in the trilogy, proving they have no faith that they'll get a chance to complete the trilogy. I hope they do finish the trilogy though because it IS still salvagable at this point.

The other annoying thing is the way they hammer home the central massage of "faith" making it feel like I'm being preached to. I don't remember it being so dogmatic in the books but maybe that's my memory playing tricks on me.

So why did I give it 3 stars if it's so bad? Because I enjoyed it anyway. I came in with low expectations and so was not overly dissapointed. For someone who's read the books I think it can feel like a light jog down memory lane and so is fairly enjoyable. It's not the definitive movie we were hoping for but it's fairly entertaining none the less. If you haven't read the books, go read them first. If you have then you've probably already ordered this. Just don't go in with high expectations.

Update 09/03/14 - 6 years ago when I wrote this review I feel I was a little over enthusiastic. While I stand by everything I wrote I no longer feel I can justify the 3 star score. Make no mistake, this film is terrible and the score should reflect that, not my ability to enjoy rubbish. For example, I love watching the D&D movie. Every time Jeremy Irons oppens his mouth and starts chewing the scenery I laugh so hard it hurts. But I would never give it more than the one star it deserves because it does literally everything with total ineptitude. As such I've lowered the score to 2 stars. And even then I'm being generous.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good God, NO!, 5 Aug 2009
By 
David (Knock, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dragonlance - Dragons Of Autumn Twilight [DVD] (DVD)
Let me give a little context to that. When I was about eleven years old, I was browsing through my local library, looking for my next read. I had devoured most of the books of interest to me - at the time mainly adventure stories or science - and whether to get rid of me, or out of genuine inspiration, the librarian recommended Dragons of Autumn Twilight. I had never read any fantasy before, though I had dabbled a little in sci-fi. DoAT was a heftier book than I was used to reading at the time, but I said I'd give it a whirl. That simple recommendation was to change my life. A whole new world opened up to me with that book, and it has been instrumental in forming my tastes and interests since.

I am now thirty years old, and while I can see the limitations of the book, I can still proudly say I love this story and world without feeling my affection is clouded by nostalgia. It is most definitely a story that would translate into a fun cinematic experience. For years I yearned to see a live-action version (at one point, in my late teens, I even tried to write an adaptation myself, but gave up as I didn't know what I was doing!) so when I saw that an animated feature was on it's way, my interest was understandably piqued. A mixture of 2D and 3D animation sounded interesting, initial concept art gave the impression that things were going in the right direction, and when casting decisions like Kiefer Sutherland as Raistlin were announced, my heart started to pound; could it be that I was at long last going to get the visual experience I had dreamed of for twenty years? The answer is `Good God, NO!' Not even close.

This is one of the clumsiest and most blatantly cheap movies - adaptation or otherwise - I have ever had the misfortune of sitting through. Where to begin? The story is there, much as it is in the book, but rather than adapt it to the medium of film, they have just crammed as many elements onto the screen as possible without any effort put into actually telling a story. Scenes rush past in a blur as the filmmakers tick off events rather than create an immersive and engaging experience. Characters pop up to appease the fans, but bar a couple of the leads, none of them are given any space to grow and breathe. I could go on and on, but there is no way to explain how dazzlingly lazy this work is without showing you the movie, and I refuse to put anyone through that.

The pacing is truly appalling and shows up exactly how cheap a production this is. I am not using hyperbole when I say that the editing is the worst I have ever seen in a supposedly professional production. Rather than blend the scenes together with shots that flow from one scenario into the next, the filmmakers opt for fading to black after every other scene! Basically there were a bunch of different animators working on different scenes, which were then passed over to the laziest editor working in the business, who just faded to black between them rather than work out a narrative transition. The visuals are like something out of the eighties or early nineties, but don't expect that to mean classy animation in the vein of The Mysterious Cities of Gold; this is cheap and clunky. Some of it is just hideous, and wouldn't make a cut scene in a video game from that same era. The 2D and 3D elements mix like oil and water. At times the image is out of focus, and many shots appear to be nothing more than pan-and-scans across a still frame. The only person to come out of this mess unscathed is composer Karl Preusser, who actually does quite a good job at bringing a sound to the world of Krynn. It's just a shame that there are no visuals worthy of his score.

This film fails in practically every department. The action scenes lack action, the dramatic scenes lack drama, the comedy scenes lack comedy, the magic scenes lack magic, but most criminal of all, the characters lack character. One of the strongest and most enduring aspects of the whole Dragonlance franchise is the strength of their characterisation, but all this movie shows us are broad-stroke sketches. In fairness to some of the acting talent, they try their best, but they have been given nothing to work with here. With animation the actors can only do so much; it is up to the artists though subtle animation to reveal the internal struggles that motivate these people, but all we get here are cardboard cut-outs whose lips move as words are said.

There are many reviews on this page that give this DVD a favourable rating, and this is a delusion. I do not adhere to the mentality that you have to settle for whatever swill you are served because you're a fan. That's not being a fan; it's being a fanatic. It's being a fool. It is up to the so-called fans to step up and say this is not good enough, otherwise you are allowing yourself to be a piñata to cheap studios with no respect for the very things you claim to love.

Don't waste your time watching this. If you want to enjoy the story again, re-read the book. If however you feel you must see this movie for old time's sake, make like Tas and steal it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars who honestly thought mixing 3d and 2d animation like this was a good idea?, 4 Feb 2008
The 3d animation is poor and the 2d isn't great but would be acceptable without the 3d abominations. That aside, is it any good? well, sort of. as adaptations go the script is close to the books. Too close in some places and not close enough in others. The mystery of characters like Fizban is destroyed, I guess this was done to make sure the film stands alone.
The voice acting is varied, however casting keifer sutherland as Raistlin was genius. its a shame because watching this makes me sad for how good a dragonlance movie could be in the right hands.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What have you done???, 28 Feb 2008
The Dragonlance novels are perhaps the best known series of books spawned by the Fantasy Role Playing Game Dungeons and Dragons. The extensive list of Dragonlance books starts (not chronologically) with the Dragons of Autumn Twilight, now made into an animated film reviewed here. I really enjoyed the books and waited with bated breath for the release of a film. Okay so it was animated and not live action (damn you Peter Jackson for setting my expectations so high! :-)) but the cover looked right and I recognised my favourites, Tanis, Tas, Caramon etc. Then I put the disc in my player....

First off, the DVD was region 1 and not region 2 as listed. Not an issue for me but those with region locked hardware won't have been able to 'enjoy' their purchase. Then there's the film itself - whatever were they thinking? The animation is so poor that the original D&D Cartoon series was better presented. One reviewer mentioned the 80s offering "He-man", if only they aspired to such high production values! The voice acting was lacklustre at best and the quality of the widescreen print was just desperate.

Why mix flat animation with partial CGI? Why engage the likes of Keifer Sutherland to do the voice acting for Raistlin and then allow such a weak performance? Why do such a poor job that the story is now unlikely to be continued in film? All in all a dreadful effort and I suggest you don't bother with this film, especially if you're a fan of the Dragonlance books. I've given it two stars for the script which was faithful to the novel, otherwise I'd have been looking for a zero stars option.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only for fans, 22 Jan 2008
By 
D. Fowler "(d3lf)" (uk) - See all my reviews
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Ive seen this, its terrible. Unlike most adaption films, it is at least true to the books and the characters. The sub-standard animation and poor soundtrack, on the other hand, completely ruin it and constantly pull you out of the film. Its a mixture of low budget childrens cartoon with bad 3D draconians overlayed. Its almost a no-budget production. As much as I was excited about Dragonlance coming to the screen, this is for fans only. Im not sure who the producers were aiming at for their target, kids or adults.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars laughable, 30 Nov 2008
By 
G. English (UK) - See all my reviews
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Shards of a broken dream lie all around us.
What a farce. It's easy to critque the loss of key passages from the book, but that was inevitable. What wasn't inevitable was the shameful animation, pitiful voice acting and complete lack of cohesive story.

Standout moments of despair include Riverwind's growing racism, the director's obsession with tight shots of Tika and my personal favourite, the hobgoblin who throws up on Tanis in the openning moments of the film.

However it's also hard to ignore such apalling moments as the companions slipping past a draconian army who choose that moment to all stand facing a wall, shaking their identical arms and swords in perfect unison. Cheap. Speaking of cheap: it's tempting to say that the animation is consistently awful, but this isn't true, in fact in a slightly worse step, it seems to oscillate between awful and childishly terrible. The continuity on the drawing means that Flint can be as tall as everyone else when sitting down, but only reach up to Tanis' waist when standing. Although on several occassions he is gifted with the most amazingly immense arms. Perhaps lugging those disproportionate tree trunks around is what's causing him to look so tired.

Mind you I've not laughed that much in a long time. And not just slight chuckling, decent out loud laughter. Wine seems to help. So, watch it with friends who remember it, but are old enough to find it funny.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I want to cry :'(, 13 Jan 2008
By 
Les Steel (Sunderland, UK) - See all my reviews
My word, I watched this travesty last night and I want to cry. Not tears of joy as I hoped but tears of sadness.

The animation is shoddy, low quality (think 80's He-Man) traditional 2D animation is mixed with low quality 3D animation, the result is a dogs breakfast. The score also doesn't seem in keeping with what is happening on screen.

Really needs someone to do to Draganlance as Peter Jackson did to Lord of The Rings.

This is only worth buying for fans of Dragonlance, but only just.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A major missed opportunity, 26 May 2008
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Back in 2001, a movie based on the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game was released. It can charitably be described as, "Not all that it could have been." At the time many fans pondered why Wizards of the Coast had allowed an inexperienced director to adapt their best-known product using his own (not particuarly impressive) homebrew campaign world as a basis, rather than using some of their best-selling novels as a source, such as RA Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden books or, the more popular suggestion, the epic Dragonlance saga by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Well, in 2006 it appears that someone finally took the (rather obvious) move of licensing the Dragonlance world and series to be used as the basis of a movie trilogy.

For readers of a particular age (those who grew up in the mid-1980s), Dragonlance is as seminal a fantasy touchstone as Tolkien. The original Dragonlance Chronicles is a traditional tale of a band of heroes who come together and get embroiled in the ongoing war between the armies of dragons, led by the dark goddess Takhisis, and the forces of light, represented by the god Paladine. Over the course of many battles and adventures, they eventually succeed and overthrow the Dark Queen. What is more interesting, however, is the internal journey many of the heroes undertake, most notably that of the extremely morally ambiguous mage Raistlin, who is torn between his loyalty to his friends and his own thirst for power, which forms the basis of the superior sequel series, The Dragonlance Legends.

That a film adaption of Dragons of Autumn Twilight has taken so long to arrive is surprising. The original trilogy sold well over 4 million copies in its first decade in print, and Weis & Hickman are often credited - alongside Stephen Donaldson, Terry Brooks and Raymond E. Feist - of helping to kick-off the post-Tolkien epic fantasy boom. At the same time, the demands of such an adaption are notable. The story features sequences involving armies of dragons attacking cities, lots of magic and enormous battles. Making a live-action movie would have been impossible before the advent of the CGI age, and an animated film would have disappointed most of the fans.

Which makes it all the more inexplicable that, in 2006, Paramount and Wizards of the Coast agreed to go with an animated film. And not a CGI movie or a high-quality animated feature employing the best Korean or Japanese animation houses in the business, but a cheap 'n' cheerful adaption by an unknown Indian company which employs less-advanced animation techniques than mid-1980s episodes of He-Man. The animation is somewhat stilted throughout and the character designs tend to be somewhat bland (with arguably only Fewmaster Toede really being a memorable design). Even more bizarre is the decision to use rather weak CGI to depict the dragons and their half-humanoid servants, the draconians, leading to a mishmash of styles which detracts from the story.

The other problem is that the entire 400-page novel has been squeezed into a 90-minute film, leading to severe compression of the story. Fan-favourite scenes such as the wicker dragon are thus lost, and climatic events in Pax Tharkas are simplified considerably. Lots of character development is also abandoned on the cutting room floor, and elements such as Tanis' continuing inner turmoil at being caught between the elven and human worlds but not a part of either are depicted clunkily. Raistlin's story arc more or less survives intact, and is enlivened by a decent vocal performance by Kiefer Sutherland.

That all said, the writer does do a good job of transmitting the background story to the viewer. A pre-credits, Fellowship of the Ring-style prologue gets the story across quite straightforwardly, and the adaption makes use of the fact that they're not making it up hurriedly as they go along (as the original writers of the novels did) to set things up ahead of time. High Lord Verminaard doesn't just show up out of nowhere as he does in the books, for example.

As a slice of entertainment for young children, the film works quite well (although a few scenes do contain blood, and Tasselhoff Burrfoot has become a psychopath in this adaption, stabbing a goblin repeatedly through the heart in one particular scene, so parental discretion is advised), and fans of the novels may get a nostalgic kick out of seeing their old favourite characters on screen. It's also notably a better viewing experience than either the live-action 2001 Dungeons and Dragons movie or its utterly horrific direct-to-DVD sequel (Wrath of a Dragon God, which may actually be the worst movie created in the history of humanity to this time, the works of Uwe Boll of course excepted). However, the adaption does have the feel of being a major missed opportunity. With better animation and a more generous running time, this could have been a very good adaption indeed, but instead it has to settle for being rather mediocre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dun Bad & Drags On, 29 Mar 2008
By 
The Dragons of Autumn Twilight Book was published in 1984. Since that time there has been animation the likes of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Akira, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo... The list goes on. That fact alone damns this film version of the novel more than anything else I can say- nearly twenty five years of classic animation and the producers and directors really believed that this would be acceptable.

Anyone with an interest in Dragons of Autumn Twilight is likely to be more than familiar with its origins as a book based on the Dungeons and Dragons Roleplaying Game. The story involves a group of adventurers who gather after 5 years apart and are drawn into a battle between the returning Gods of Light and the celestial Queen of Darkness. It contains all the D&D staples, elves, dwarves, magic, and of course dragons and none of these elements have been removed from the film. The original novel is certainly no work of art but it is a great fun read and certainly enjoyable enough that this should have been a fun watch as well. It's not.

The first and most obvious issue with DoAT is the animation. The character designs are well done enough and every character should be recognisable from the descriptions in the book but unfortunately good design is not enough when they are so poorly drawn. The animation is also frighteningly jerky at any time that characters are moving quickly and the fights have no weight. As other reviewers have pointed out the animators have made the bizarre decision to animate certain parts of the movie with CGI. This is primarily done with the dragons and the humanoid draconians, making it particularly jarring when the poorly animated heroes are battling the poorly CGI animated draconians. The voice acting is also notably poor despite a cast that has a few genre stars (Lucy Lawless, Kiefer Sutherland, Michelle Trachtenberg) and it is clear that they were mostly there to collect their paycheques.

Ultimately if you're a big fan of the novel it may well be worth it to watch this, if only to see the story realised on a screen. The story remains pretty much intact (although some part have been abridged and the ending made far more blatant) and that's generally a positive. However be aware that the quality will frustrate you throughout and make any fan of the material angry that they haven't even tried to make a decent effort. Poor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dragons Of Autumn Twilight (2007) DVD, 28 Feb 2008
By 
Mr. Stephen Shane Caruana (Malta) - See all my reviews
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It does not do the series justice, it is like the old dungeons and dragons animated series from the 80's. The series needs to be done as per lord of the rings as has been said. Any other way is just crass. I don't know how many times I have read the chronicles since they were released but my imagination and other readers would by now have a irreplaceable image of what a full blown movie would be like and this series just doesn't cut it.
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