Escape to the Movies: Dungeons & Dragons

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Wow, Bob is younger than me... I feel so old now... and unsuccessful. Way to go, Bob! :P

For shame, Bob. Are you really saying you want more terrible movies based on licensed properties to clog up theater space? Turn in your cinemaphile card now, man. I thought you were above this!

I'd like to see a high quality adult animated series for D&D, that way it could avoid the pitfalls of being compared to Lord of the Rings or whatever else and operate on its own merits.

Thanks for addressing this Bob, I'm a gamer myself.

Another Riddick "for some reason" heres a reason the first one was good...

Stick with Dorkness Rising if you want a good D&D movie. Anything with an official stamp of approval is going to suck. WotC has no respect for D&D players. They think we're a bunch of idiots. They think we'll buy anything with a D&D logo on it (which we usually do) and love it (which we usually don't lately). Any script with WoC's blessing is going to be made as fast and as cheaply as possible. It's going to completely lack any creativity or inspiration. It's going to sidestep any subject matter that that will invoke any kind of controversy. It's going to carefully avoid any intellect or depth beyond the easy understanding of a 12 year old boy, and it's primary theme will be moving product. In short... it will suck big fat hairy donkey... noses.

In the unlikely event that anyone from WOTC see's this I want you to know I'm goin' back to 1st edition.

THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE OSRIC!

Launching rant in 3....2....1....

The problem with D&D as a movie as stated before is that there is no defined story. That's why so many people find their D&D fix in movies that have nothing to do (directly) with the game such as LotR, and others get entirely dissapointed with actual D&D movies such as that silly bit with Marlon Wayans and Riff.

Most "official" D&D movies and tv series, the ones that aren't traditional self-parodying fan service, (not that I don't love things like Dorkness Rising)are basically generic fantasy movies with a few words tossed in from sourcebooks. You can take out all the passing references to Obad-Hai or some poorly implemented guard-beholder, change the title of the film and no one will ever know that behind all this (unfortunately sub-par)are 3-5 regular Joe's sitting around a dinner table rolling funny shaped dice.

The fact of the matter is most actual D&D GAMES are intended to be Fantasy genre sterotypes, usually written out by people who would be considered amatures and hacks by Holywoods albeit dubious standards. The reason we all love the game so much isn't its story it's the immersion.

When we play the game we all put a piece of ourselves in the character (or if we're the DM in the world) when we look to our party members we see behind that dwarves eyes lies a good friend who we're at least familiar enough with to let our social graces down enough to "play make-pretend" with for awhile.

We take these tightly woven bonds we've formed before the game begins and now we take those pieces of ourself and put them into an imaginary world where we can experience great adventure, and maybe even get a few rare chances to act completely unlike ourselves, without fear of harm or consequence befalling us.

With the exception of that old saturday morning cartoon (and those fan made comedies), none of the official D&D media I know of have ever tried to translate that feel of real people thrust into a fantasy setting onto a script and thats why IMHO they've always failed to live up to fans of the series, or the general public as anything more than bad generic fantasy.

Here's my idea of a potentially succesful D&D movie formula.

1. Take 4-5 people who ACTUALLY PLAY D&D.
2. Make one of them a confused new player so things can be organically explained to an audience not familiar with the game.
3. Find a way to "magically" teleport the players into an already well established official D&D campaign setting. Preferably one that is not identical to Middle Earth.
4. The change from our world to theirs should allow the players to be or act in ways they couldn't have in their normal world. Yes, they are now in the bodies of their characters. D&D is all about being able to identify with the heroes of your adventure and any gamer will have tons of fun identifying with the players thrust into their own game. If you want to toss in some interesting drama have them come into conflict by making them have to struggle with their own personality and the personality of the character they designed.
5. Give them an adventure of their own set in the official campaign setting. Have key figures, events, and characters of the setting make cameos and assist and hinder them along the way, but don't let "our" heroes break the setting or "Save the World". Even though we would probably identify with our main characters I'm willing to bet the gaming world would be annoyed if "Holywood" gave their favorite campaign setting a "Happy Ending". Making the plot of the movie a story within a living world would only add to the "Game" feeling that we're currently missing in current D&D movies.

The problem is (as it often is): Politics.

Wizards of the Coast (then TSR) sold the entertainment (read: Movie and TV) rights to Courtney Solomon, who was lucky enough to have a billionaire bankrolling him at the time. Courtney is currently amusing himself with SyFy/direct-to-dvd horror movies at After Dark Films, so there's no real desire for him to work with WotC.

Some properties related to DnD (like Dragonlance) are getting pushed by Cindi Rice and John Rosenblum over at Epic Level Entertainment, but they're only working with titles that don't need licensing from DnD. Senior management at TSR/WotC have a history of letting licensing opportunities slip through their fingers - they famously passed on working with the X Files because nobody had watched the show. The main champion WotC had for entertainment deals, Scott Rouse, stepped down at the end of last year.

The main issue is that Brian Goldner, the CEO of Hasbro, decided that all Hasbro and Hasbro subsidiary properties are to be internally developed - and has set up a new studio division to do so. GI Joe was their first big feature, and they have Battleship (directed by Peter Berg from Friday Night Lights), Monopoly (directed by Ridley Scott), and Stretch Armstrong (starring Taylor Lautner) on the way, with Magic the Gathering in development. They've set up distribution deals with Universal and Discovery Communications, and like Lucasarts they're recalling all other properties where they can so that they don't have to work with outside producers (Don Murphy, who produced the first two Transformers movies, commented that Goldner is "bogarting everything").

So until Hasbro decides to work with external producers again, WotC gets a new entertainment champion, and Courtney Solomon decides to give up the rights, there's probably not going to be any DnD movies in the near future.

The Spoony Experiment did a full review of Mazes and Monsters and pointed out the flaws in the arguments it made. Here's the link:
http://spoonyexperiment.com/2010/08/01/mazes-monsters/

As Moviebob said D&D didn't really have a story or established setting. The closest thing I have seen that get D&D "right" is a relatively obscure 1990 anime OVA series called "Record of Lodoss War" which actually started life out as transcripts of actual Game sessions turned into narratives published back in 1986.'

In fact it has been anime where D&D or at least D&D like worlds have thrived. The Slayers anime series is one the longest live of these returning after a near decade long hiatus and doesn't take itself serious about half the time and the rest very seriously.

Funny you should mention the Tom Hanks film.... I am a medical student at a UK University and one of the MCQs that has recurred in the 'Progress Test' (a twice yearly adventure that is taken by every year of the course as a mark of increasing experience/knowledge/ability/whatever) regards the classification of the psychosis/delusions being experienced by a 'patient' who , if I remember correctly, is concerning his mother due to increasing withdrawal from social interaction and references to fighting dragons etc...

Not sure if a direct game reference is in the scenario but every time I see it I feel a little pissed, firstly due to there being no true evidence of pathological problems, secondly due to the limited information and thirdly due to the possible derision that may underline a scenario presented by an establishment that is supposed to promote reason and education!

I mean, seriously, aside from possibly the withdrawal/ choice not to engage socially, there isn't much to question in terms of mental health! Possibly some florid delusions may be present, but the example hardly gives anything to gage this by and so it just feels like a cheap shot!

Naturally I may be being too thin-skinned about all this, but it does just feel a little like a perpetuation of the stigma referenced by MovieBob by a source that really should know better!

Indeed Mr. Movie Bob, you are right, right, right, that it is wrong, wrong, wrong. A WoW film before a decent one on the work that made possible any and everything that has RPG on its description that is not a rocket propelled grenade? Except for The Lord of the Rings, there can be no other claims to seniority on this genre. A D&D film should come before a WoW film, not only alphabetically.

But I reckon we may have to wait a little bit before that happens.

You explained it yourself. There Isn't a plot. The only thing a film would be able to share is the name and perhaps the lore. That's not really mouth watering for a producer. And I don't blame them. D&D has got to be one of the worst ideas for a film... ever.

That first film you talked about is probably about as good as it could possibly be. For it to actually be D&D and not just some fantasy romp. It needs all the shitty rules and god awful scenarios. They don't make good stories because they are bad stories.

I wouldn't go watch a D&D film.

Though the very idea of WOW movie sounds...unethical.....producers would jizz their pants when they actually reviwed the revenue pulled buy the MAMORPAGER...thinking"instead of paying 12 dollars for subscriptions, they'll pay 12 dollars to see this movie! in 3D!!!

Oh, MovieBob, every fantasy adventure movie EVER MADE is the D&D Movie! Us tabletop gamers don't need the Official D&D logo on it-- that logo just strikes us as pandering because you can't have just ONE movie about a game that lets you tell ANY kind of story you like!

It might be cool to see a D&D tv series though, kind of like the Outer Limits or the Twilight Zone, where they did a LOT of little stories of all varieties.

Coh, I love Krull. One of my favourite films ever.

Why is Moviebob against fur bikinis on black people, is he racist or something?

I always looked at the two D&D movies in this way. The first movie was what most of our game nights really sounded like. (be hones all of you) And the second film is how we all hoped our games would really turn out.

You'd think they could at least put out a decent movie based on the Drizzt novels by now...

There are two good D&D movies: The Gamers and The Gamers: Dorkness rising.
You don't have to wait for Hollywood to do things properly.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if Bob never heard of the Dragonlance movie since it wasn't mentioned anywhere but Dragonlance fansites.

I always wondered why they didnīt make a movie about everybodies favorite emo-elf. The characters are semi relatable and the action is good, probably something for everyone in there.

If you guys havenīt seen the Dragonlance animated movie that was released a few days back you should try and find it. Even though the graphics were closer to 90s graphics than 00 it was still Dragonlance and if you liked the story itīs still there with the awesome evil cleric.

Highfive to the poster(s) before me!

Arronax:
I always wondered why they didnīt make a movie about everybodies favorite emo-elf.

Because WotC knows actual D&D fans would burn the WotC corporate-offices to the ground if they did that.

Drizzt fans make up that really noisy, really annoying 5% of the D&D fan base. Where as the people who hate Drizzt to the point where the only way they would watch a D&D movie with Drizzt in it was if he died in the first 2 minutes during the opening credits, make up 95% of the D&D fan audience.

You'd be better of taking Paul Kidds, Justicar & his team of adventurers from the much underrated Queen of the Demonweb Pit novels. At least then we could all hate him at once rather then hating him over a long period of time.

The Root Beer Guy:
I actually enjoyed Wrath of the Dragon God. Then again, I don't play DnD.

Its ok to like that movie. I do play D&D & that was not a bad film considering the budget... which is more then we can say for the original.

Nigh Invulnerable:
Three FANTASTIC D&D movies came out back from 2001-2003. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The novels inspired about 90% of the flavor in D&D sourcebooks, and therefore could be considered D&D movies. You have the basic classes and everything at various points, though it's a bit low on magic.

Yes, but by that logic Tron could be considered a World of Warcraft movie... There both based on people who get stuck in computer programs with no apparent reason & completely illogical goals & bossess with respawn timers...

You want a good D&D movie just watch "Gamers: Dorkness Rising."

-M

There's actually another movie that didn't come up here. Granted Bob may or may not have heard about it.

"Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight"

An animated film combining cut-frame animation with 3D rendering. Birthed from the series of novels by the same name, it's pretty much the most despised of the D&D films I've seen so far.
Like all of them it is actually a guilty pleasure.

Particularly 'Wrath of the Dragon God', for some reason I just love that film. The SyFy channel leaves a distinctive marks on the look and effects of all it's products, and it's just so charming.

MovieBob:

DTWolfwood:
wait wtf, how do you make a movie out of Battleship? O.O

Presumably, you take ANY script set around a battleship and put the "BATTLESHIP" logo on the title screen ;)

In the case of this one, it's about The Navy fighting water-oriented aliens.

and the captain/admiral will yell "They've Sunk my Battleship!" at some point in the movie. They pretty much have to! unless they are actually trying to make a serious movie <.<

Why is that wrong? Why do we want a D&D movie? It's just as dump as a Battleship movie or a Risk movie or any other game. You don't have a story in D&D, it's a set of rules. Sure you could make adaptions of a module or some story from the Forgotten Realms or something, but then it isn't just D&D is it, it's an adaption of a story.

The beauty of D&D is that there isn't a story. It's that your world, be you the GM or the players, is, ultimately, completely unique to that campaign. No other game, even if it's with all the same people, will exist in the same place with all the same things happening. It's not something that can be done in film. Hell, it's not something that can be done in a video game. Why do we want that made into a movie?

Give me decent original fantasy. Have orcs and dragons and rangers and all those archetypes, but make it something new and fresh. Let's stop it with the game adaptions completely.

Also, another Riddick movie? Really? Dare I hope? I have dreamed of this day.

matthew_lane:
SNIP

Nigh Invulnerable:
Three FANTASTIC D&D movies came out back from 2001-2003. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The novels inspired about 90% of the flavor in D&D sourcebooks, and therefore could be considered D&D movies. You have the basic classes and everything at various points, though it's a bit low on magic.

Yes, but by that logic Tron could be considered a World of Warcraft movie... There both based on people who get stuck in computer programs with no apparent reason & completely illogical goals & bossess with respawn timers...

You want a good D&D movie just watch "Gamers: Dorkness Rising."

-M

What? Tron has virtually nothing to do with the setting and atmosphere of WoW. Lord of the Rings, however, inspired the majority of the tropes used in D&D (Orcs spring to mind, as do rangers, enchanted rings, etc). In fact, I'd almost argue that a WoW themed movie would be more of a D&D film than a Tron rip-off.

I kinda lost my vague interests for D&D after seeing that horrible, horrible show "I hit it with my axe"......... its depressing....

matthew_lane:
Because WotC knows actual D&D fans would burn the WotC corporate-offices to the ground if they did that.

You and I both know the average gamer is so lazy and unenthusiastic about the supposed "cause" you are indirectly pointing at that most of them would go see the movie, gripe(or not) about it, then go flame a couple of threads and then love it when they release the directors cut with the extra footage.

Not to mention the off chance that it might bring those twilight loonies over to wotc and thats money in the bank.

Other than that I can totally picture you and one other guy getting arrested for attempted arson :D.

The problem with a D&D movie is that a lot of the D&D universe is very "out there." As far as I'm concerned the best D&D movie ever made was The Gamers, and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising.

To be fair, they made a movie out of Clue with Tim Curry and it was awesome. A shame no one ever bothers to mention that.

I seem to be the opposite of Bob here. I love math. It is, in fact, the systems in pen and paper games that fascinate me. The sword and sorcery nonsense, the roleplaying, the stories - these are things I could live without. Indeed, the very idea of roleplaying is repulsive to me on some level, enough that, in spite of the fact that I own sufficient rulebooks to conceivably play any of a dozen different pen and paper games, I have never actually sought out a group to pursue the hobby with.

That isn't to say I have anything against roleplaying or people that partake in such things, but rather that I have absolutely no ability to inhabit a persona other than my own. I simply cannot, for some reason, legitimately roleplay and instead, when I play games where I have the option, create a character that best represents my own self-image projected into the universe. It is for this reason that I cannot play a game like Mass Effect as a renegade as so many of the choices are so far removed from what I would think sensible at the moment or in the grander scheme that, were I to choose them, I would then think myself an idiot.

dathwampeer:
You explained it yourself. There Isn't a plot. The only thing a film would be able to share is the name and perhaps the lore. That's not really mouth watering for a producer. And I don't blame them. D&D has got to be one of the worst ideas for a film... ever.

That first film you talked about is probably about as good as it could possibly be. For it to actually be D&D and not just some fantasy romp. It needs all the shitty rules and god awful scenarios. They don't make good stories because they are bad stories.

I wouldn't go watch a D&D film.

I think I have to disagree here. D&D is, above all else, a series of systems that allow one to simulate any number of fantastical activities. There is a system for climbing a wall, a system for hitting someone with a sword, a system for determining if one is suitably persuasive in a conversation and so forth. Those systems, generally speaking, define a basic world where there are a multitude of sentient humanoid races, magic, monsters of various flavors and a (generally) feudal social structure. You could take virtually any idea for a fantasy epic and translate it into the D&D system.

The real problem, I would think, is that the D&D brand itself has a negative connotation. The films have (according to the general trend of posts here) been either legitimately awful, or, at their best, so bad that they become entertaining. That means you'd face an uphill battle marketing a D&D film to the people who would be best suited to watch it. With people who do not play the game, you instead are forced to contend with the unmistakable stench of nerd associated with the system which would almost certainly be sufficient cause for most to ignore the movie entirely.

Hmmm...
Is it wrong if I say that I think the Acrobat is kinda cute?

I thought the acrobat was kinda cute. Is that wrong?

RTR:
I thought the acrobat was kinda cute. Is that wrong?

Well, they're all only supposed to be 15-16 years-old except for the little kid, so... kinda, yeah ;)

I remember reading somewhere, in a column, someone saying "most D&D campaigns are more like Conan the Destroyer than Conan the Barbarian."

Unfortunately, I agree...

But I consider Conan the Barbarian a great movie, and Excalibur, from around the same time, is a favorite. As far as I understood, these two movies are what spawned the legions of 80's copy-cats.

And tho' it is not a movie, I am hoping Martin's Game of Thrones series coming to HBO will make up for all the fantasy = magic = no need for logic or internal consistency or quality of any kind mindsets we've seen.

Before you tell me that's not like d&d, I was given the first book of the series because it reminded him of our campaign.

ps:

RTR:
Hmmm...
Is it wrong if I say that I think the Acrobat is kinda cute?

well :

Wiki:
Diana, the Acrobat (Tonya Gail Smith): Diana is fourteen years old.

But after all, Diana was the required chainmail-bikini clad ( it was fur, but still ) red sonja/ Xena etc character.
She was supposed to be hot - for adolescent boys.

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