It is not often that nerds get to visually experience their love for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) through film instead of the standard board game or novels. While D&D fans will appreciate this straight to DVD movie, casual movie watchers might be turned off by the bland production values and quirky plot line.
After a long hiatus, dragons have returned to Krynn and threaten the people and their way of life. Similar to the fellowship in the Lord of the Rings, a posse of humans, elves, dwarfs, and other renegades band together to try and stop this incoming threat. It is kind of funny because instead of the plot revolving around a Dragon Lance, the name of the movie, the main quest centers around a bluish staff with healing capabilities. In fact, a Dragon Lance only makes a brief cameo in the film. However, the ending leaves this movie wide open with the possibilities of sequels.
The movie’s production values are quite low. All animation in the film resembles that of Saturday morning cartoons from the late 80’s or early 90’s. But this simple 2D animation almost confuses the viewer as fully animated 3D characters are placed on top of these 2D environments. Several minutes in the movie, the band of heroes will face these 3D lizard creatures that just look very odd. All the lizard creatures look exactly the same; they are not even pallet swapped. But they just look so out of place when inserted into this bland 2D world. What if 2D brutes started fighting Master Chef in Halo 3? It’s just weird.
Luckily, the weaker animation gets compensated through stellar voice acting. Lucy Lawless of Xena fame and Keifer Sutherland of 24 lent their voices to this film. But because the animation is less than par, mouths often don’t match up the voices being spoken. Also, the DVD lacks any significant bonus features. Watching scenes of the movie without color wouldn’t exactly be my first choice in watching bonus features. Why not have interviews with the celebrity voice actors? Where are the deleted scenes or early designs of characters?
Because the of lower production values, I see only the hardest core D&D fans thoroughly enjoying this title. However, having this movie created in the first place is a step in the right direction as it gives the series potential to grow. This one is a rental but only if you are an RPG fan.