Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
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Review Date: December 04, 2000
Director: Courtney Solomon
Writer: Topper Lilien, Carroll Cartwright
Producers: Courtney Solomon, Kia Jam, Thomas M. Hammell
Justin Whalin
Marlon Wayans
Thora Birch
We are in a fantasy world infested by mages, elves, commoners, thieves and dragons. The empress doesn't believe in the system that is presently running the state. She believes that everyone should be equal and that those with magical powers shouldn't be above others. The requisite bad guy in the film vehemently opposes her point of view and wants to turn everyone else in the party against her. Cheesiness ensues.
A fun, over-the-top fantasy adventure which doesn't break any new ground for the genre but does present us with some of the most outrageous bits of overacting that I've seen in years, an interesting tale that never bores, some decent effects and oh, plenty of blue lipstick. For anyone who never really understood what "overacting" means, please see this movie and behold the performance set forth by Jeremy Irons as one of the best examples of overacting that you're ever going to see on film. Here's a serious actor going hogwild on some of the corniest dialogue that you've ever heard. Overacting like "nobody's business", as Garth from DH once remarked. But he's not the only one. Give another ham sandwich to Bruce Payne who seems to be making a living out of this style of thespianism. God knows that a lot of people will write this movie off because of its standard plot line, grandiose acting exhibitions and certain CGI shots, but for me, it all worked just fine. I got "into" the whole over-the-top feel of the movie, enjoyed many of its adventures, dug most of the special effects, which were remarkably solid (especially the thingies coming out of Payne's ears and the "big blue floating eye" thingie...what the heck were those things?), and appreciated the entire ambiance of the flick. The costumes, the sets, the entire design of the period is very well presented here, and despite a couple of very small obvious special effects, I thought most of it fit perfectly into this "fantasy" world (it is a fantasy world after all).

The couple of things that really didn't work for me included Marlon Wayans, whose style of comedy seemed annoyingly out of place in this film, and Thora Birch, who after presenting us with a strong performance in AMERICAN BEAUTY (8/10), comes up surprisingly bad in this film. Hello! Was she even trying to act? A very, very poor man's imitation of Natalie Portman's Queen Amidala, and sadly, a bit of a hindrance to the flow of this film. A shame really.

But thankfully, neither she or the proscuito presented by Irons is around for much of the film, since both actors barely show up in about 15 minutes of the movie. Most of the time is spent without special effects, as the two thieves move from adventure to adventure in this underworld of magic potions, spells, strange looking beings, elves, dwarves, mazes and oh yeah, a few of them dungeons and dragons. Although you would be surprised at the lack of dragons in the entire movie (the first 5 minutes and its final 10). And even though I've always considered the Saturday Morning Cartoon "Dungeons and Dragons" a personal favorite of mine, I honestly cannot say anything about this film's faithfulness to its background material. Does it honestly matter? Not really, especially if you don't know anything about it anyway. But where was Uni, that darn cute unicorn?! (thassa joke, people...no emails, please). Overall, I would definitely recommend this movie to all kids who love fantasy movies, anyone with a proclivity to blue lipstick, lovers of cheesy material overacted by actors loving it, and to anyone who is honestly intrigued by this film's trailer. This movie is not going for any Oscars this year but it is definitely shooting for the top award in the "fun cheese" factory and certainly achieving most of that very goal. Then again, the last time I remarked the same about another movie, it was a certain film called BATTLEFIELD EARTH (7/10). And we all know how that turned out...doh!

BTW, am I nuts or am I the only one who wouldn't mind going a few rounds with that very sexy elf? Woohoo...sign me up for the sequel: Dungeons & Dragons 2: The Elf Strikes Back!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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