Dungeons & Dragons Preview

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. But first it has to defeat Stone Cold in a head to head battle for the final spot! The Boz versus Jeremy Irons, the battle you’ve all been waiting for. Enjoy!

Dungeons & Dragons (2000) – BMeTric: 85.0; Notability: 27 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 0.4%; Notability: top 62.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 4.0% Higher BMeT: Battlefield Earth; Higher Notability: Gone in Sixty Seconds, Little Nicky, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Coyote Ugly, Mission to Mars, Ready to Rumble, Lost Souls, 102 Dalmatians, Rules of Engagement, Bless the Child, Proof of Life, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Reindeer Games, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Scream 3, Supernova, Hollow Man, Isn’t She Great, Dude, Where’s My Car?, Final Destination, and 42 more; Lower RT: The in Crowd, Battlefield Earth, Bless the Child, Down to You, Lost Souls, Turn It Up, Urban Legends: Final Cut, The Skulls; Notes: Hooooooooooooo doggy, that is some impressive stuff. I’m actually most surprised by the notability bit. You’d think a CGI-heavy high fantasy story would necessarily have a large number of notable people in it, but apparently that is not the case. Being mentioned in the same breath as Battlefield Earth is always a good thing.

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – “Dungeons & Dragons” looks like they threw away the game and photographed the box it came in. It’s an amusing movie to look at, in its own odd way, but close your eyes and the dialogue sounds like an overwrought junior high school play. The movie tells the story of a power struggle in the mythical kingdom of Izmer, where a populist empress wants power for the common man but an elitist member of the ruling caste plans a coup. High marks for anyone who can explain the role that dragons play in the Izmerian ecology.

(Boom. Roasted. I think it is probably impossible for someone to seriously watch this film and go “meh good enough”. You either have to ironically enjoy it, or not enjoy it. There is no other possibility.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efSq9FF1r2Q/

(The first 20 seconds of this trailer is just nonsense. And the blue lipstick on the bad guy!! I love this film. It is just so funny. Jeremy Irons is just screaming in the middle, the protagonist drops to his knees and screams “Nooooooooooooooo!”)

Directors – Courtney Solomon – (BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Getaway; An American Haunting; Notes: Son of Fran Solomon, a maybe big producer from the 80s. It might explain how he bought the rights to D&D when he was 19, had a production company in his early 20s, and ended up directing the D&D movie when he was 29.)

Writers – Topper Lilien (written by) – (Known For: Low Down; Where the Money Is; BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Notes: He was oddly in Coneheads in a bit part. If I were to guess he is a lifelong screenwriter who was asked to do substantial rewrites or an initial treatment by the studio they were working for.)

Carroll Cartwright (written by) – (Known For: What Maisie Knew; Where the Money Is; BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Notes: Possibly was a writing partner with Lilien around 2000 as they both wrote Where the Money Is as well. Odd that neither have very many credits and very little information on IMDb.)

E. Gary Gygax (game) (uncredited) – (BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Notes: D&D started as an extension of table top war simulators which have existed since the 1800s (used by European militaries primarily in order to practice tactics). It was one of the first, and amazingly is still likely the most popular game of its kind. And the popularity is only growing with the D&D play podcasts that now exist (like The Adventure Zone).)

Actors – Justin Whalin – (Known For: The Dead Pool; Serial Mom; Future BMT: Child’s Play 3; Super Capers: The Origins of Ed and the Missing Bullion; BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Notes: Won a Daytime Emmy for a children’s special in 1994. Is a certified scuba diver and seemed to have retired from acting in 2009.)

Jeremy Irons – (Known For: Red Sparrow; The Lion King; Lolita; Die Hard: With a Vengeance; High-Rise; Margin Call; Stealing Beauty; Inland Empire; The Mission; Beautiful Creatures; Their Finest; Dead Ringers; Damage; The Man Who Knew Infinity; Race; Casanova; Appaloosa; Reversal of Fortune; The Merchant of Venice; The French Lieutenant’s Woman; Future BMT: The Pink Panther 2; The Time Machine; Justice League; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; The Man in the Iron Mask; La corrispondenza; Better Start Running; The House of the Spirits; An Actor Prepares; The Words; Kingdom of Heaven; Love, Weddings & Other Disasters; BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Eragon; Assassin’s Creed; Notes: Won the lead actor Oscar in 1991 for Reversal of Fortune. His voice might be what he’s most famous for as he played Scar in The Lion King.)

Zoe McLellan – (Known For: Mr. Holland’s Opus; Imaginary Crimes; Future BMT: Inventing the Abbotts; One Fall; BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Notes: Starred in NCIS: New Orleans in their early seasons, 20 episodes of Designated Survivor, and a very good two-part episode of Star Trek: Voyager back in the day.)

Budget/Gross – $45,000,000 / Domestic: $15,391,970 (Worldwide: $33,978,694)

(Yeah, that isn’t what you want. This budget makes a bit more sense, given some of the big name actors and the money they must have spent on CGI (in 2000 no less). They were obviously hoping for that big fantasy money.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (9/92): Critics say this movie has a cheap look and is badly directed. Despite the presence of talented actors, the performances are really bad, and additionally, some people are offended at Marlon Wayans’ character, calling it a racist throwback to black stereotypes.

(Ooooof, officially below 10%. I’m surprised it isn’t more like 4%, but it seems that there was more appreciation for the spectacle than I expected. Reviewer Highlight: The average episode of Xena or Hercules offers a more compelling and imaginative photoplay. – Scott Foundas, Variety)

Poster – Faces & Sepia Tones

(As busy as this might seem I think that is standard for high fantasy and sci-fi (think of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars as examples). The only real complaint is the color scheme is just really boring. I would imagine the idea is that in the eventual series, I would guess they would color each a distinct tone, they just never go to do it. B. Love the font.)

Tagline(s) – This is no game. (B+)

(There isn’t anything else to be done. This had to be the tagline. It is short and sweet, goes to the roots, lays out the stakes. Deduction only because of how inevitable it feels.)

Keyword – dragon

Top 10: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), The New Mutants (2020), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Dolittle (2020), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Inside Out (2015), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Future BMT: 61.9 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 54.0 Balls of Fury (2007), 53.9 The New Mutants (2020), 53.2 The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (1990), 50.6 Your Highness (2011), 47.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie (2004), 40.1 The King and I (1999), 33.3 Just Visiting (2001), 27.4 47 Ronin (2013), 26.9 Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016);

BMT: Dolittle (2020), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), The Last Airbender (2010), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Hellboy (2019), Sucker Punch (2011), Gods of Egypt (2016), Eragon (2006), Dragonball Evolution (2009), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), The Golden Child (1986), Seventh Son (2014), Dungeons & Dragons (2000), Dragon Wars (2007)

(Really ahead of its time on “hey we can actually make dragons with CGI now kind of” films. And oh boy am I excited to watch the entire Mummy series eventually.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 21) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jeremy Irons is No. 2 billed in Dungeons & Dragons and No. 3 billed in Assassin’s Creed, which also stars Brendan Gleeson (No. 4 billed) who is in Turbulence (No. 3 billed), which also stars Ray Liotta (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 3 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 3 + 4 + 3 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 21. If we were to watch Passenger 57, Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – When asked why he did this film, Jeremy Irons replied, “Are you kidding? I’d just bought a castle, I had to pay for it somehow!” (I love it when actors go and get their money, it is great)

Director Courtney Solomon’s first film. He acquired the exclusive rights from TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) in 1990, when he was 19. It took 10 years to raise the funds to make the film. (Jeez, is he involved in the new one then? Yup, he’s a producer on the D&D television show that is coming up.)

Courtney Solomon only intended to produce the film originally. However, TSR head Lorraine Williams vetoed every one of his choices (one of which was Francis Ford Coppola) and forced Solomon to direct the film since he held the rights.

The bones visible in Profion’s lair are real. These scenes were filmed in Sedlec Ossuary, a small chapel in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic. It is decorated with the bones of people who were buried in the surrounding cemetery, but had to be moved to make room for the chapel and for new burials.

Richard O’Brien parodies his own role from The Crystal Maze (1990) (TV Series). (I might have to check this out)

The film is not based on the classic 1980s cartoon of the same name, but it is based on the same source material. (Obviously, but the cartoon is actually pretty fun)

Based on the 1974 tabletop RPG game by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc.