The first Dungeons and Dragons movie released in 2000 was something I remember taking note of as a young ‘un for being one of the earliest movies I could remember being based off of an existing franchise in a different medium. It tanked horrifically at the box office. Since then, two more films have been released based on the D&D franchise, albeit straight to DVD, and smack my face with pie if it isn’t true, but for once a DVD sequel seems to be a better installment than the original. Not by much, but still.
D&D is undoubtedly one of the largest contributors to modern fantasy fiction, along with Tolkien. It set the groundwork for a hundred other franchises, with the lines of inheritance very obvious to see. The problem with this is that D&D now has the capacity to very easily slip into being the boring option. If everything else has taken the base and innovated, the base ends up looking rather generic by comparison. For instance, the villain of the movie, Nhagruul the Foul, sounds so truly D&D on one hand, but at the same time also looks like something I smacked my fist down on the keyboard to create.
The plot involves an ancient order of knights sworn to prevent the return of the aforementioned evil. Our hero is Grayson (Derges) a young initiate of the order. As expected, evil does return, and it’s up to our hero and his companions to stop it. In this, the problem of genericness shows itself. However, the assorted companions are somewhat more unique than the usual arrangement of figures in fantasy films, and display interesting qualities and abilities in and of themselves. The special effects are decent, and the actors really feel like they’re trying; which I feel would not have happened if a more famous actor had been hired for a role and used up half the budget in the process.
It’s definitely not a bad fantasy movie, but I don’t especially know what any D&D fan will get from it personally. And for the rest of the public, who have been spoiled by Game of Thrones recently; it seems a bit harder for a movie like this to measure up to what we see a fantasy film could be nowadays.