To say that I am greeting the announcement of a new Dungeons and Dragons movie with skepticism would be an understatement. For one thing, the original attempts (yes I said attempts – as in plural) were utterly rancid in every conceivable fashion. They didn’t showcase anything that made Dungeons and Dragons great, let alone managing to be even remotely competent fantasy movies on their own merits. If there is one thing that still sticks out in my mind after all these years, is the absolutely dreadful CGI effects used in the movie such as in the climactic battle at the end (skip to 1 hour 30 odd mark to see the start*).
Of course the completely one dimensional villains, poorly written heroes and script that spends large amounts of time going utterly nowhere didn’t help this movie much either – despite an outright competent cast being picked for it. It completely bombed at the box office and notably has about 10% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, which easily made it one of the worst movies released that year. Honestly with a pedigree like that to compete against, it is hard for me to see them managing to do a worse job with this movie. Then again doing better than their original efforts shouldn’t be the goal, it should be to create a great fantasy movie on par with the likes of The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings – or at least that’s what I would like to see attempted anyway. An actual fantasy epic worthy of the title “Dungeons and Dragons”.
When reading their press release, I wasn’t exactly left optimistic with the script being done by someone who wrote Wrath of the Titans. While Wrath of the Titans was at least entertaining, it didn’t exactly do well in constructing a compelling plot or interesting characters. Minding while the critical reception of Wrath of the Titans was largely negative, it does at the very least have some great action scenes and certainly didn’t completely bomb at the box office. Given that Hasbro are interested in making their franchises as profitable as possible, with movies being a key part of that strategy, it was inevitable that we would have another approach at a Dungeons and Dragons movie. So finding someone who has successfully written a fantasy movie and successfully made money on it at the same time, was probably their thinking with that particular choice.
At the most basic level, maybe we’ll get a reasonable action movie with some neat fights with various iconic Dungeons and Dragons. Possibly these fights will actually manage to look non-terrible while they are at it, unlike the original movies. That’s where I’ve set my expectations at least, because surely they can’t do worse than 2000s effort.
*And yes that appears to be the full movie, which probably tells you a lot given that it is entirely up on youtube.