Film / Dungeons & Dragons

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Dungeons & Dragons is a film released in 2000, based on the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game.

In The Empire of Izmer, Mages rule with iron fists whilst the Commoners are lowly slaves. Empress Savina (Thora Birch), wants equality and prosperity for all, but the evil, overacting Archmage Profion (Jeremy Irons) is plotting to depose her and establish his own rule. The Empress possesses a scepter which controls Izmer's Golden Dragons. To challenge her rule, Profion must have the scepter, and tricks the Council of Mages into believing Savina is unfit to hold it. Knowing that Profion will soon get his hands on her rod and use it to wreak chaos, Savina seeks the Rod of Savrille which controls red dragons, a species even mightier than the gold. Two common thieves, Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans), plus a mage named Marina (Zoe McLellan) somehow get embroiled in these matters and end up embarking on a scarcely-coherent quest for the Rod themselves. Along the way, they're joined by the requisite elf and dwarf. Profion sends his henchman, Damodar (Bruce Payne) (who wears bright blue lipstick for some reason), after them. Do they succeed in their quest? You get three guesses.

So, how much does any of this actually have to do with Dungeons & Dragons? Well, a Beholder is seen very briefly, acting Out of Character, and at one point a "feeblemind" spell is mentioned, and... that's about it.

In 2005, a made-for-TV sequel titled Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God premiered on the Sci Fi Channel. It spawned another Non-Linear Sequel in 2012, Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness.

Dungeons & Dragons provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Snails' reaction to Marina's crack about having to put a Feeble Mind spell on herself to want to hang out with him and Ridley.
  • All There in the Manual: Dragon magazine published third-edition stats for all the major characters. The main adventuring party were all third-level, Norda the elf ranger was seventh-level, and Profion was a fifteenth-level wizard.
    • Elwood the Dwarf's name is never mentioned in the actual movie.
  • An Axe to Grind: Elwood the Dwarf's primary weapon.
  • Big "NO!": Ridley, when Snails dies.
  • Body Horror: Profion puts a snail/plant/worm-like... thing in Damodar's brain... Allegedly Word of God says it was supposed to be a Mind-Flayer, although it bore no resemblance to one (Mind-Flayers are Cthulhumanoids in the actual game).
    • Larval Mind-Flayers resemble tadpoles and are often inserted into their (unwilling) victims through the ear by their sires, but the host is soon incapacitated as ceremorphosis (the process of transformation into a new adult Mind-Flayer) takes effect. Perhaps Profion made some modifications to it.
  • The Cameo: Tom Baker as the Elf King. Yes, really. Also, watch for Richard O'Brien playing to type as a weird, creepy character with ulterior motives.
  • Captain Obvious: Damodar: "Just like you thieves; always taking things that don't belong to you."
  • Cold Ham: Damodar chews a lot of scenery despite mostly speaking in a drawling monotone.
  • Concepts Are Cheap: The Empress talks a big game about wanting to give more rights and freedoms to the commoners, but what this entails is never explained.
  • Conspicuous CGI: Some of the visual effects look quite decent, although the low budget made the dragons seem a little...blocky.
  • Costume Porn: Hit and miss. Anything regal, like the Empress' dresses, looks absolutely stunning; everything else looks like it came from a seasonal local costume shop.
  • Death Glare: The movie opens with Profion trying to tame a Gold Dragon with a prototype scepter. After some seconds of struggle, the beast destroys it with a glare.
  • Defector from Decadence: After Profion's and the Empress' confrontation in front of the council, when the Empress leaves and Profion rallies the mages behind him, you can see some mages quickly leaving their seats. It's implied that they joined the Empress' side. Indeed, during the final battle, she's accompanied by a group of mages.
  • Defiant to the End: Snails when fighting Damodar.
  • Dem Bones: Savrille, the original creator of the Rod of Savrille, was cursed by the Gods. He was forced to possess his own skeleton, pinned to the wall of his treasure-filled tomb, until The Chosen One claims the Rod. It was punishment for the crime of hubris, believing mankind should be allowed to command Red (Evil) Dragons.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Averted, to some extent. The (presumably hereditary) teenage empress is the Big Good, but her proposed royal decree is to extend the vote to commoners and end the Deadly Decadent Court of authoritarian mages.
  • Disney Villain Death: Damodar's fate is to be run through and then thrown off a tower. Rather appropriate, considering he did pretty much the same thing to Snails.
  • Dull Surprise: Ridley, Savina, and Damodar all seem to deliver their lines like this a lot of the time.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Profion basically offers the Empress a whole deep-fried pig. By contrast, Damodar offers up Cold Ham.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: In case laymen are confused, the first 2 minutes of the film has a dragon trapped in a dungeon.
  • Fate Worse Than Death:
    Damodar: Do not let them escape or you will suffer a fate far worse than that which hath been inflicted upon me.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Ridley was a multi-class fighter-thief already and the movie repeatedly drops hints that were supposed to play out in a sequel that he had a talent for magic as well.
  • Forgot I Could Cast Spells: For being a mage, Marina casts very little magic despite being able to talk and move her hands freely.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Irons vs. Irons' Eyebrows, which are on the verge of out-acting him on occasion.
    • And on a more serious note, any time Damador and Profion share a scene.
    • Damodar vs. Xilus:
      Damodar: You must be joking.
      Xilus: I never joke when Mages trespass ... in MAH GUILD!
  • Happiness in Slavery: The subjects of the Empire are apparently all slaves to the Magocracy, so the Empress' plan to free them is treated like it's a world-shattering event. But aside from being poor, does anyone actually look oppressed and suffering?
  • Honor Among Thieves: Ridley thinks that makes his people better than the backstabbing Mages of the ruling class. It later turns out that only thieves of Sumdall feel this way.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Damodar, when Ridley knocks him off the castle ledge at the end.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: To Ridley, Profion is just another scheming mage, while Damodar is the guy who killed his friend right in front of him. Guess which one is his Arch-Enemy whom he battles at the climax of the movie.
  • Just Desserts: Profion ends up being eaten by a gold dragon.
  • Large Ham: Profion!!! HATATATATATATATATATA!!!!!!
    • Courtesy of Jeremy Irons: "Let the blood RAIN from the SKY!!!"
      • Which ends up sounding more like "LET THEIR BLUD REEIIINNN FROM THA SKAAAAAAAUAUUUUGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!"
  • Loveable Rogue: Ridley and Snails were meant to be. Whether they actually are depends on the viewer.
  • Magic Map: The one they're all after, which somehow pulls Ridley and Marina into it.
  • Magic Wand: Scepters that command dragons are the chief Plot Devices here.
  • The Magocracy: And the mages want it to stay that way.
  • Moral Myopia: Ridley, a thief, is shocked to his core when another thief robs him.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film's Novelization changed several aspects for the better. Snails became the Only Sane Man (the polar opposite of his role in the movie), the Dwarf's name was actually used, and the film's good deleted scenes were reinserted.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The purple-headed guy (credited as "Three Eyes") tells Ridley and company to leave Antius "before you get the words 'Outsiders NOT Appreciated' branded. Right. Where. Your. Nose. Used. To be."
  • Red Right Hand: Damodar's blue lips.
    • He could be addicted to Sannish, a drug that causes permanent staining of the lips; later it is mentioned that he cannot control his urges, supporting this.
  • Scenery Porn: In a very limited sense. Anytime there's a scene in that council chamber, drink it in. The filmmakers used a real palace in Europe, and it's truly gorgeous.
    • Really any interior scene that takes place in Izmer. They made extensive use of real-world locations, such as Profion's lair being a real bone chapel in Prague.
  • Shout-Out: British viewers will know that this isn't the first time Richard O'Brien has guarded a fiendish maze guarding a vitally plot-important crystal...
  • Show Within a Show: The film seems to hint at the end that the entire film was a campaign session, with the players leaving after it ends. (It would explain the cheesiness of the plot that mimics other storylines of popular entertainment.)note 
  • The Slow Walk: Damodar makes an inappropriate use of this method when he's chasing after Snails through a building with no locked doors.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: When our heroes run into a Wall of Force spell that prevents everyone but Ridley from passing, it shimmers a bit, and they exclaim, "It's some sort of wall of force!"
  • Supernormal Bindings: When Ridley and Snails break into the library, Marina catches them in conjured ropes that seems to pull them along wherever she goes.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The thieves. Sure, breaking in a wizard school to steal something valuable is a brilliant idea...


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