11 February 2010

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God

Cast: Bruce Payne, Mark Dymond, Clemency Burton-Hill, Elie Chidzey

Writer: Robert Kimmel, Brian Rudrick
Director: Gerry Lively

Release: 8 October 2005
Sci-Fi Pictures Original Films, 105 mins., Rated PG

The original
Dungeons & Dragons movie, back in the early 2000s with Jeremy Irons and that Jimmy Olsen kid, is a huge guilty pleasure for me. A majority - nah, basically everybody - hates this flick, or at least hold a large amount of contempt towards it. Sure, there's plenty to bass the diss on: over-acting, non-acting, crappy visual effects, sheer stupidity, bad guy with lipstick, dumb-ish story (?), but since the moment I saw this beauty on that old VHS tape I bought, I fell in love. I personally think Dungeons & Dragons was a great movie, bristling with enthusiasm at perhaps starting a new franchise, and complete with the 'cool!' effect.

But, as the story goes, the movie bombed, was critically panned, and became a nice little punching bag for B-movie reviewers everywhere. A continuation of any sort of was, in all likelihood, never gonna happen. Well, ladies and gents, thank God for the
Bring It On and American Pie direct-to-DVD successes, because I'm sure without 'em, this little gem would never have got the greenlight.

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God
could be mistaken for a theatrical movie, if it wasn't for the obvious budget constraints. A serviceable script which basically provides a mean for some monster slayin' and major magic mojo from some mages. Basically, the lipstick-wearing bald baddie from the first movie, Damodar, is resurrected. Turns out his ex-master Profian (Jeremy Irons) cursed him and didn't so much undo the curse before his unfortunate demise [oops, spoiler?]. So Damodar, in his wicked ways, plots a new strategy to take over the world and cast it in evil. It involves a orb. Meanwhile, in the wonderful land is Ismir, five champions, led by a tried but true legend Berek (Dymond), embark on a journey to stop Damodar and restore peace to Ismir. And stop that pesky apocalyptic dragon from destroying their town.

Overall, I had fun. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a sequel (albeit taking decades later, from my understanding), and furthermore, that it was good and enjoyable! The uber low budget and dodgy special effects didn't detract my from enjoyment any one bit. In fact, the Big Bad Dragon that's resurrected by Damodar at the conclusion was really well done - it was genuinely rather freaky! Evil incarnate, I tell ye! The 'heroes on a mission' story is much loved, and I had a blast following these warriors through their journey. Puzzels that needed to be solved, bad guys on the road that needed to be killed (the Oberon demon from the woods was also a high point in awesomeness), magic to be conjured (possibly the worst bit of SPFX use is whenever a character was using magic; a weird, completely unconvincing water effect shows up at the lower portion of the screen), and the world to be saved (though, specifically Ismir).

Wrath of the Dragon God
is, according to many a site, more faithful to the role-playing game than the 2000 original film. If so, that's nifty. It was cool seeing all these diverse, non-Tolkien creatures inhabit the universe, and the interesting little devices some of the warriors used was nifty (such as the red 'gem of true seeing').

For a direct-to-DVD sequel made a shoestring budget, Wrath is far better than anyone would have expected. A good enough script, a scary ass CGI dragon, actors that range from good to still-better-than-
National-Lampoon-DVD-movies-quality, and major amounts of fun to be had, I actually want a sequel! Bring it on SyFy; you keep airing crap that The Asylum make, why not dish out some more of your dinero and make another worthwhile feature film, eh? Bottom line, it's absolutely worth a rental. And for those, like me, who loved (or at least liked) the first one, this one will be right up yee alley.

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