DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
Dungeons and Dragons was the inevitable movie adaptation. The poster for the theatrical release lamely promises the obvious notion that This is no game. The timing for the movie seems off it was well over a decade since the D&D/Fantasy Role-Playing fad had peaked and gone. Although there are still some faithful FRPers out there, role-playing has for the most part been eclipsed by the computer game revolution. Of course, the real reason for Dungeons & Dragons at this time is the new fad for epic science-fiction adventure and sword and sorcery that came about with the success of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and sequels and in expectation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and sequels.
The film has done a fair job of adapting the basic character templates of the game the thieves, the magic users, dwarves and elves, and some impressive looking orcs in the background. As in the game, these are fairly much cutout archetypes that are never played with any substance beyond their basic templates. The plot is routine as though it has been built out of a constructor set of scenarios the evil sorcerer desires power, endangered child empress desires freedom and democracy for all viz The Phantom Menace. As if determined to at least be accurate in regard to its title, there are a couple of dungeons and plenty of dragons. While moderately thrilling, the venture through the trap-laden maze is far too brief, while the journey into the cavern to obtain the sceptre near the end is surprisingly free of perils.
Similarly, there are some dazzlingly impressive dragon effects, although the problem here is the very impressiveness of the effects in themselves. There are so many dragons flying, diving and attacking all at once that the effect is visual overload rather than awe or dramatic excitement. Ditto the impressively CGI created city of Ismir where the animation camera dives and twirls around the elaborately beautiful city towers and bridges so fast and with so much detail that it is impossible to take in and appreciate the artistry.
There seem to be an oddly muted political subtext running throughout the film. As a rule, Sword and Sorcery ends up passively supporting feudal monarchies, albeit highly romanticised ones. Dungeons & Dragons feels like it has been infiltrated by Star Trek politics The Empress makes earnestly naive speeches about freedom and democracy for all her kingdom. There is also a subtly racist tone of anti-imperialism in much of the casting where all the evildoers are played by Brits Jeremy Irons (in OTT mode as the chief magician), Bruce Payne (who does the cold, tight-lipped thing he did in Highlander: Endgame  again) and Richard OBrien as a double-dealing thief.
The company of heroes all seem miscast too. The majority of the heroes although ranging in age from 18 to 31 all look to be in their late teens, something that seems to by implication assume (incorrectly) that the audience for Dungeons & Dragons and fantasy is youthful. Despite taking an Associate Producer role, Sean Whalin is wimpy and never projects the strength his heroic role needs. Marlon Wayans is written solely as the comic relief and has no character beyond that. The non-human adventurers the elf and dwarf are given so little characterization that they make almost no distinction.
The set and costumes are impressively lavish. The effects are good there are some cute magic tricks packed away magic ropes, quicksand carpets, jack-in-the-box dragon illusions, instantaneous portals. It all passes with a sufficient degree of energy and sheer good cheer to be undemandingly likable. It is the sort of film that mid 80s Star Wars copies like Hawk the Slayer (1980) and Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1984) wanted to be but could never find the budget to do so. The film was universally hated when it came out.
Courtney Solomon next went onto direct the supposedly true-life ghost story An American Haunting (2005). He did not direct any other films up until the non-genre action film Getaway (2013), although has subsequently acted as a producer with After Dark Films. He has produced a great many other genre and action films, including Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005), Captivity (2007), The Butterfy Effect 3: Revelations (2009), Perkins 14 (2009), Slaughter (2009), Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009), Prowl (2010), Area 51 (2011), Fertile Ground (2011), Husk (2011), Scream of the Banshee (2011), Seconds Apart (2011), The Task (2011), Children of Sorrow (2012), Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012), Dark Circles (2013), Ritual (2013), Bastard (2015), Re-Kill (2015), Wind Walkers (2015), The Wicked Within (2015) and Phoenix Forgotten (2017).
There were two further films with Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005) and Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness (2012).