Film / Dungeons & Dragons

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 all her subjects to be socially equal and able to prosper, but the evil, overacting Archmage Profion (Jeremy Irons) plots 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, to which end he 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 havoc, 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 an apprentice Mage named Marina (Zoe McLellan) get embroiled in these matters somehow 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 blue lipstick for some reason), after them. Do they succeed in their quest? You get three guesses.note 

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 mentioned only once in the actual movie, and it's easy to miss.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted with Damodar; when Ridley swings his sword at Damodar's chest, the armor stops it cold. He also blocks all the previous strikes with his arm guards. It's played straight in the climax, since Ridley's blade has been enchanted. The blade itself doesn't get through the armor, but the magic still shocks Damodar.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Rod of Savrille is, as Ridley learns when he reaches it, pure evil. Anyone who uses it is subject to a horrible fate (its creator is a living skeleton cursed to guard it until someone takes it), and only by breaking the spell is the curse avoided. Ridley destroys it rather than use it, sparing him.
  • An Axe to Grind: Elwood the Dwarf's primary weapon.
  • Berserk Button: Don't shoot the dwarf's helm off him.
    Elwood: You shouldn't have done that...
  • Big Bad: Profion, the Evil Mage.
  • Big "NO!": Ridley, when Snails dies.
  • Black Dude Dies First:Snails is the first named character to die
  • Body Horror: Profion uses magic to implant a leech-like worm in Damodar's brain. Per Word of God, it was supposed to be a Mind-Flayer, although it bore no resemblance to one (Mind-Flayers are Cthulhumanoids in the 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 for purposes of torture.
  • Brick Joke: In their first scene, Snails cracks a joke about "Ridley the savior," gently mocking his best friend's Small Name, Big Ego. At the end of the film, Ridley says it as an affectionate Ironic Echo at Snails' grave.
  • 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."
  • The Chosen One: Ridley learns he is this when he is the only member of his party to enter the cave where the Rod of Savrille is kept, and is able to take it and leave.
  • 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.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Snails vs. Damodar. He manages to nick Damodar with a dagger, but he mostly gets his ass kicked. Then Damodar murders him.
    • Ridley vs. Damodar. The first round goes pretty badly for Ridley, whose sword is useless against Damodar's armor. He does better in round two, since the elves gave his sword a magic upgrade.
    • The entire party vs. Profion. Ridley gets a beatdown from Profion's staff, while the rest of them get hit with paralyzing magic and tossed aside. The Empress then has one of her dragons eat him.
  • 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.
  • The Dragon: Damodar to Profion. Damodar is Chief of the Crimson Brigade and meets the heroes several times while Profion is an untouchable aristocrat giving the orders.
  • 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, in the first two minutes of the film, we see a dragon trapped in a dungeon.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The worm-thing that Profion puts into Damodar's head.
    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 About His Powers: Despite being a mage, Marina casts very little magic despite being able to talk and move her hands freely. This might have something to do with her being an apprentice. When she manages to get her hands on magic powder, she does a lot better.
  • 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 Damadar 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?
  • Healing Hands: The elf healer uses magic from his hands to cure Ridley's stab wound. Marina is surprised he didn't need a spell to do it.
  • Hollywood Torches: There are a number of torches burning on the walls of the den of thieves and even inside the maze of booby traps.
  • 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 summoned by Savina.
  • Large Ham: Profion, 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: What 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.note 
  • Magic Wand: Scepters that command dragons are the chief Plot Devices here.
  • The Magocracy: And the mages want it to stay that way.
  • Menacing Stroll: Damodar uses this method rather inappropriately when he's chasing after Snails through a building with no locked doors. Fortunately for Damodar, Snails manages to run himself into a raised courtyard with no safe exits.
  • Moral Myopia: Ridley, a thief, is shocked to his core when another thief robs him.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Damodar gives Snails one before he can escape with the map.
  • No Name Given: The Dwarf's name is Elwood Gutworthy, but it only gets one mention when Ridley offhandedly tells him to wait outside the Thieves' Guild. (He properly introduces himself in a Deleted Scene, though.)
  • 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 on he says that he cannot control his urges, supporting this.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • In a very limited sense. Any time there's a scene in that council chamber, drink it in. The filmmakers used a real Czech palace, 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:
  • 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 
  • 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!"
  • Spell Blade: Ridley's blade is enchanted after his first fight with Damodar, causing it to release yellow energy with each strike. Damodar's blade has a similar effect, only purple.
  • Supernormal Bindings: When Ridley and Snails break into the library, Marina catches them in conjured ropes that seem to pull them along wherever she goes.
  • Team Hand-Stack: At the end of the movie the four remaining protagonists do a hand stack over the Eye of the Dragon gem and are teleported away.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: After Snails dies, Ridley briefly swears off the quest until Marina educates him on what the Empress is trying to do.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The thieves. Sure, breaking in a wizard school to steal something valuable is a brilliant idea
  • Unfortunate Name: Profion. The Nostalgia Critic points out that it sounds like a name for a heartburn medication.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Actually subverted in the film's one really clever moment: we're led to believe Profion will kill Damodar after he brings him the Artifact of Doom, but then he removes the parasite, as he promised.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go:
    • Ridley surrenders the Rod of Savrille to Damodar, against his compatriots' requests, then says this to Damodar. Damodar replies, "I Lied."
    • Played with when Damodar gives the Rod to Profion, demanding that Profion undo the spell placed on him. Profion seems more concerned with the Rod, but honors his end of the deal when Damodar presses the issue.