Ted's RPG Rant

A place to rant about RPG games, particularly the Temple of Elemental Evil. Co8 members get a free cookie for stopping by. Thats ONE cookie each, no seconds.

Monday, October 10, 2005

New D&D Movie - Wrath of the Dragon God

Those of you outside the US have probably already heard that there is a second D&D movie out, made by the Sci-Fi channel if I am not mistaken - those of you inside who have the channel may have already seen it! If not, or for anyone interested, Krunch assembled a few reviews that I am now passing on - no, I haven't seen it alas, I don't have cable and live in Oz anyways (as u should know!) Wonder if they would sponsor my Silmarillion?

Summary: Based on the phenomenally successful role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons 2 takes you deeper into the dark and fantastical world of this fantasy epic. When the evil sorcerer Damodar braves a perilous whirlwind vortex to steal the elemental black orb he declares a sinister plan of vengeance against the kingdom of Ismir. Berek, a decorated warrior, and Melora, an amateur sorceress join four heroes representing Intelligence, Wisdom, Honor and Strength to battle against Damodar's growing army of gruesome creatures, flying harpies and an ice dragon to reach a vault room holding the orb. Together, they build their own army to retrieve the orb using elemental forces to defeat Damodar before he summons the sleeping black dragon whose omnipotent evil powers could lay waste to the entire kingdom.

Review: The party is an elvan wizard, A human Fighter, Human Cleric of Obad-Hai, Human Barbarian and a short Human Rogue (note - he may be a halfling but it is not clear)
- The barbarian and the wizard are female the rest are males.
- The movie goes with the rules of DnD very well (at one point the elf detects a secret door)
- I personally liked it a lot better than the first movie which was no where near DnD.
- Don't expect greatness in this movie but I would watch it again.

Review: I am very much pleased with this movie, VERY much... It was alot better then the first one in so many ways that it is hard to say it was ever born out of the first one, had you never heard of Damadar who tied the old movie to it then you would have never even realized it had anything to do with that first one. Overall impression: Not the worlds best, but hey in DnD we make our own worlds so maybe it is in some of them, Graphics for the most part were quite impressive for a most likely low budget film, The actors were decent, and the plot had some grounds to it. Alot could have been added and really it was the bare bones of a game. That Damadar was quite simply.... Weak! I mean in the first movie he had this He-man thing going on but in this one he is even weaker then Profian and that is saying something... That and the Dragon God looks like a black dracolich that instead of shooting acid jets has fireballs for its breath weapon. What disapointed me the most was that it was supposed to be razing a city and most of its fireballs didnt even damage the main buildings, let alone touch them. However the old director who was not director of this film was quite right when he said the movies that followed would make up for lost dungeon crawls. The sorcerer must have been of decent level too, she cast quite a few spells more then once, like in the attack when figuring out a certain puzzle. She casts the same spell over and over. It could have been a high level magic missle but she was shooting it more then just within a certain range of the first. However in many aspects these little things can be overlooked because they are replaced or filled by many impressive scenes. Like the White dragon which kicked arse or the dracolich in general. The lich looked a little funny to me but that could be just my pre-conceived image of them talking. Personal favorite scene was either the White Dragon attack or where the Lich(Shape changer?) took the orb back and did its little transformation thing, I liked the graphics. Though the regrowing of the.... Well we will leave some of the movie for people to watch ;-)

Review (Krunch's own opinion): the special effects were real cool looking...expecially the cgi script for the dragon at the end of the movie.

The movie seemed to rush too much through the story and really did not focus much on conflicts and fight scenes - in general, great fight scenes make a good movie better.

The movie seemed to suggest, at least to me, the longsword used by the fighter hero was magical, but not a type of very powerful magic sword - maybe a +2 longsword - would have been nice if they did more with it.

The cleric, obviously, had a super powerful warhammer that was like a magical one-handed miniture maul.

The scene where the magman was summoned was interesting - the mages could not control it and it ran around the room touching stuff to start fires.

There were lots of things to give a thumbs up in the movie...they should contact those of us here at Co8 for movie mod ideas for D&D 3, should it ever be made.

Review (Reviler's take): I was satisfied with it but my expectations were VERY low.

Storyline - Good 'ole D&D fare. Even tho the lich felt thrown in, the whole thing reminded me a bit of the 'Tower of Doom' arcade game from the late 80s. And, yes it did scream 'Pilot'.

Acting - Some were better than others but when it comes to playing archetypical characters you really don't have to be that good. What I noticed more between this and a real movie is a lack of ego. With the first movie and many other TV shows staring well known actors you always get a sense of primadonna. With these guys, I had a feeling that they were working stiffs who saw this a step up from a Sinus headache commercial. Unfortunately all female actors did the worst with the woman playing Lux merely being acceptable.

Special Effects - I don't know how many of you noticed in the beginning montage when the showed the kraken coming out the water it was a switch to artwork. Other than the fact I think an Aboleth would been more appropriate, I genuinely liked the desire to get the story out even if they could not afford to make a cgi kraken. What cgi there was good (dragon good) to passable (white dragon and magmin) to awful (Lich's transformation). What was bad was the makeup for the Hobgoblin and the lich. Plus, I saw midgets in the graveyard that were supposed to be halflings. I don't think Peter Jackson will mind other people stealing the techniques he did for hobbits and dwarves. I don't know if midgets have a union but we really need to stop putting them in those roles and get them real work.

Good Points -
Loved the Bastard Sword that the leader carried. Only showing as magic when in use and never pointing out that it is magic. The gem of true seeing too, nicely done. Oh, Ring of the Ram without pointing or saying it was a Ring of the Ram was pretty sweet too.

When the evil dude and his hobgoblin henchmen were enjoying their little evil scheme and the hob said "Good times..." without any sense of 'I'm making a funny' was a good bit of corn without being over the top.

The references/background were excellent and well within the story lines. Jubilex, demon god of oozes. Temple of the Kua-Toa. Obad-Hai, god of nature. I think not taking the time to explain was good too but we are all largely familiar with the D&D world and don't need to ask. For a lay person it might have just sounded like gibberish.

The Dragon God demanding a specific tribute on every new moon of his release. It was totally unnecessary for the story line and I loved that they put it in there.

The party interactions were a good start and I had hoped to see more.

Bad points-
A lich... Hanging out in the woods... Aside from his bad acting, bad makeup and bad implementation at least he proved to be a jerk. They should have had a much more mundane bad guy.

No dwarves? C'mon man! Ya gotta have at least one dwarf!

Awful ending. It just kinda ended. No direct dialogue of good byes and future hints of a series or another movie. I was left with the feeling that not only did I not know whether there was going to be more but they did not know.

Speculation/Hope -
A series. The Forgotten Realms series has tanked long before it ever got into production but if there is enough buzz about this I can see Sci-Fi dipping a little more money into it. Nothing along the lines of BS:G but possibly 5-6 1 hr episodes a season.

I would like to see the world fleshed out more and to take the series in a different direction than series normally take (1 group of people, stickign with them for the duration). If they did the series as 'modules' with different partys with the occasional crossover following one large 'campaign' I think they could hook more people then they could with the standard cookie cutter TV series.

Review (Lord Spike spots the hard-core D&D references): O-Kay, people...I have watched the movie in detail this time around, and found three references to Greyhawk Modules therein:

Barek, in a conversation to the Chief Mage, when discussing party composition for the dungeon quest, speaks of Dorian... "He and I were part of the party that stormed The Ghost Tower of Inverness..." {Module C-2, by Allen Hammack}

Later, when the quest is underway, Nim the Rogue confronts Luxx about her barbarian tendencies, provoking a sword-tossing response..."Tell me, Luxx, what did your brother see at the Barrier Peaks that drove him crazy?" {S-3, by E. Gary Gygax}

Finally, when they reach Malek's Tomb and have to decipher the puzzle to enter, Luxx says to Barek..."Remember the Shrine of the KouToa..?" {D-2, by E. Gary Gygax}

There was a lot to like about this, especially when compared to the first movie...may it wither and rot.

Lexx the Barbarian saying..."Come villany; death awaits you!"; Nim the rogue telling everyone to look away, he is "...about to employ ancient secrets known only to the members of the rogue's guild." Then there is what happened to "poor Ona" (the wizard's dove). I actually think this was a figurine of wondrous power, 'cause it went back to porcelain & shattered when it hit the ground. Last of all, the cleric...from his actions when he is first introduced (the shoe incident) to his support of Barek, to his frozen end...it was all right on target. Even the prayer at his funeral was fitting to the theme of D&D...

There the tears of Oerth are dried;
There the hidden things are clear;
There the works of life are tried;
By a Juster Judge than here.

One is reminded of Tolkien by this...overall, I recommend it, as it was fairly entertaining. Not a classic, but with classic elements...and fun to watch.

My rating: Thumbs up!

Overall: All who saw it seem to agree it is better than the previous one which is pretty universally regarded as poor, and may be a pilot for an ongoing TV thing.

Also, Co8's (big) sister-site Sorcerer's Place got an exclusive, see it here :-) There are pix!


At 10:58 am, Anonymous just a bum said...

um yea nerdsy moovie...
u kno wut, those 2 hot chix on horsez in 1 of teh picturs @ socerars palec look real bored. u kno homie liek bored 4 sho cuz they haev to hang out wit such wussy dudez n wuts even worse soem of tehm r real old haha. n thoes 2 kneelin biker chix r so bored taht they r interested in horsez n 1 of them is even givein handjob to horse! wow tahts soem hardcore stuff!
but teh funniest guy is taht tiem travallar on teh right, cuz evry1 is liek mediavel wit armar n shit but taht 1 normal guy is liek "hallo peeps i cum wit piece. my missian is to help u destroy soem shit hear. oh n i will need soem quantum juice 4 mah tiem machene 2 cum back to future can i get taht?"

At 12:51 pm, Blogger ShiningTed said...

Yeah i think the dudes at the bottom are the stunt doubles and a guy with a mic - at least I hope thats a mic :-/


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