Think a D&D Movie is a Good Idea? Five Reasons You’re Wrong

  • Posted by
  • at

Dungeons_and_Dragons_Dungeon_Master

2016 is over, and we successfully avoided the release of another Dungeons and Dragons movie. Here’s a survival guide in case one comes out this year.

Last year taught us that nothing is safe. Never relax. Constant vigilance is the only way to be even remotely prepared for the untold horrors that time inevitably sends us hurtling towards. With that in mind, here are five things to prepare for in case 2017 sees the release of another Dungeons and Dragons movie. And this isn’t some idle, random threat–back in early 2016, studios were in talks about an upcoming D&D movie described as “Guardians of the Galaxy in a Tolkien-like universe.”

If you think that sounds awesome–this guide is for you.

Dungeons and Dragons

There are many things wrong with this movie–the CGI is dated, the plot is thinner than most late 90s adventure modules, they have only a tangential understanding of Dungeons and Dragons–the most D&D-esque moment is when the main characters are in a tavern and a dwarf joins them for NO REASON. But if that’s not enough to convince you, then why not check out this short clip of Jeremy Irons chewing up every ounce of the scenery.

Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God

This movie has the dubious distinction of being arguably the “best” movie on the list, if only because it is set 150 years in the future, thus ensuring that it is now official cannon that just about everyone from the first movie is dead. They died and they’re dead and they’re not coming back. It features proper nouns from Dungeons and Dragons proper and is actually tolerable if you view it with the following mindset: you are watching a movie about a group of people playing Dungeons and Dragons and you’re seeing their character’s actions played out verbatim. Don’t believe me? Check out this clip of a cleric chopping down a tree with a warhammer.

Now picture the DM saying: “your character does what?”

Book of Vile Darkness

Entry three in the list of “no really, we know what Dungeons and Dragons is like, you can trust us” movies, the Book of Vile Darkness is the darkest movie on the list. It’s not particularly troubling morally, it’s just not very well lit. If you’ve ever wonder what Star Wars would be like with worse writing and special effects, you need look no further than this movie.

The Flight of Dragons

This one is not technically a Dungeons and Dragons movie, but it follows very closely in the grand tradition of things like the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon. As magic started to fade from the world–because people were embracing science–a bunch of wizards created their own realm of magic and predictably one of them betrayed the others. So naturally, the only way to save the world is to summon a board game designer to their mystical realm to defeat a two-headed dragon wizard (voiced by James Earl Jones) by reciting different kinds of science at it.

I am not making any of that up.

Mazes and Monsters

And of course, no list warning you against the dangers of Dungeons and Dragons movies would be complete without the movie that warned you against the dangers of Dungeons and Dragons. That’s right, Mazes and Monsters. The 1982 Tom Hanks vehicle (a Yugo is technically a vehicle) is essentially the answer to the question: what if we made a movie about the time that the media thought a suicidal child prodigy got confused about playing Dungeons and Dragons and got lost in the steam tunnels under Michigan State University, and seasoned it with powdered Chick tract.

At about the 0:50 mark, you can see the moment Tom Hanks realizes he’s in this movie after all.


Every day, thousands of people think a Dungeons and Dragons movie is a good idea. If you or someone you love is thinking about trying to make a Dungeons and Dragons movie, please, get them the help they need. Our operators are standing by, 24 hours a day.

Got another “favorite” Dungeons and Dragons movie? Tell us all about it in the comments!

 

  • Kritarion

    The Gamers PArt 2 – Dorkness Rising is the best DnD-Film
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOUksDJCijw

  • ZeeLobby

    We already got one. It’s called “Your Highness”, lol. A lot of my friends thought it was dumb at first but once I pointed out that it’s basically a cinematic representation of a bunch of friends playing DnD, it becomes hilarious.

    That said, while probably targeted more towards kids, the Yogscast has done a couple filming’s of DnD sessions (well DnD, sci-fi and zombie apocalypse), that are pretty funny.

    It’s all silly, which is important I think to get the most out of DnD. Serious moments can be fun too, but without a laugh things get pretty stale.

    • euansmith

      Of course, Stranger Things is a DnD movie/TV series too.

      “DEMOGORGON!!!”

      • Valeli

        I was totally going to post that as my reply.

        It’s easy the best D and D movie out there. Let’s not crowd the genre.

      • polyquaternium7

        just finished the series last night… one the most awesome series i have seen in a long time.

        • euansmith

          Wasn’t Winona Ryder excellent; I bet she loved get a proper role she could sink her teeth in to. And Charlie Heaton was great too; certainly someone to watch out for in the future. Maybe he can play the young Daryl Dixon in a series set some years before the Walking Dead.

          • polyquaternium7

            I always had a crush on Winona :p besides that it was good to see her in a good role like this. The cast was amazing, and all those kids were awesome. Maybe because I’m a 80’s kid myself that played D&D that I liked it so much. For me the music, the story and the cast gave me a feeling of a old series or movie I missed from those days all those years and just discovered this gem just now. A feeling of nostalgia for something new.

    • Mike X (Official)

      My group regards ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ as basically D&D in space.

      • ZeeLobby

        Hah. That’s a good catch too. I think this happens a lot. I mean whole generations grew up playing DnD, so I wouldn’t be shocked if a lot of it makes it into media.

    • Andreas Noche

      *sigh* That movie is “fun” in the same way, every demograpic comedy is fun. You´re either part of it and like it or you´re wasting time.

      The one and only (but truely) perfect scene was the “magic, mother*” one

      • ZeeLobby

        Sword of Unicorn, Minotaur, the Barbarian eating it after taking one step into the dungeon from a spike trap, etc. It definitely has a bunch of classic tropes/references. Even the plot is something you could imagine popping up in a poorly organized DnD session: screwing to make dragons.

  • Chris Hateley

    Firstly; Flight of Dragons is an amazing film. Anyone who disagrees is a terrorist.

    Secondly, a D&D movie based on the 80’s cartoon would be way better than any based on the game and could easily pull in a far wider audience as it is more likely to appeal to non-D&D fans purely for nostalgic purposes. I’ve never played D&D. It does not appeal to me in the least, but I still love the cartoon some 30 years after first watching it on TV every Saturday morning.

    Frankly it amazes me that that wasn’t the obvious choice the first time they made a film.

    • euansmith

      There might be licensing issues over the old TV show, I guess.

  • Xodis

    Reasons why a D&D movie can be amazing given a supply of decent actors and a script that wasn’t purchased at the Dollar Store….

    Fellowship of the Ring
    The Two Towers
    Return of the King
    Every Season of Game of Thrones
    Pans Labyrinth
    The Princess Bride
    The Dark Crystal
    Willow
    The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
    Conan (The first one of course)
    Legend

    • Mike X (Official)

      Add in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV’, ‘Your Highness’, ‘Vikings’, and ‘Stranger Things’.

      My group has a list of “D&D-approved” movies, for when we’d rather chill and watch a movie than play.

      • Xodis

        Try out Knights of Badassdom, that was hilarious and Final Fantasy-eque.

        • polyquaternium7

          Knights of Badassdom was great 😀

    • ZeeLobby

      The Dark Crystal, man I miss that. Add on Krull!

      • Xodis

        Done and Done! Another awesome movie.

        • euansmith

          If you are adding in Krull, then there must be space for “The Sword and the Sorcerer”? A rubbish film with a great hero.

  • euansmith

    Have you seem any of the crowdfunded Mythica movies are a lot of fun. Not good, but a good laugh.

  • MechBattler

    Let’s just face reality – trying to adapt a game into a movie is a fool’s folly. It just doesn’t work. One’s a brief experience that is limited by a timer and the other is a long, interactive experience designed to make the person feel like they’re a part of. They’re two entirely different mediums that just don’t translate well.

    Games have either too little story material or too much story material to adapt a decent movie from.

    Case in point on the too little/ too much material – The first three Harry Potter films were good adaptations of the books because the books weren’t actually that long. The fourth book and beyond were considerably denser, so the movies from that point forward were forced to cut corners and leave details from the books out. These were often details that made the movies less coherent than the books they were adapted from.

    Case in point – The Last Airbender just bombed not only because Shyamalan is a terrible film maker, but because trying to cram 20 episodes worth of story telling and character development into a 2 hour movie just doesn’t work.

    It also doesn’t help that script writers have no clue what makes a game appealing to players, and that it’s impossible to replicate that in a movie – THE MECHANICS!

    Whether it’s a video game, board game, or table top game, it won’t matter how good it looks if the system is crappy and no fun to play.

    Case in Point – Star Wars Battlefront 1 + 2. These first games are ones that hold up solidly even now. They’re loads of fun and get everything right. The sequel is a high resolution sugar coating hiding a bland cardboard tasting center.

    Translating a game into a movie just doesn’t work well because a movie cannot be an immersive, interactive, controllable experience, and there’s either too much or too little story material there to adapt to a two hour format.

  • Mike X (Official)

    You can’t make a D&D movie because D&D is a themed sandbox, not a campaign or story.

  • Vepr

    It could be done well but I think it would have to be something like The Icewind Dale Trilogy and not just a random D&D movie.

    • euansmith

      “Baldur’s Gate: the TV Series”, Episode 327, “Side Quest 49”.

      • Vepr

        It would be incredible if Netflix started a serious series around D&D. I am honestly considering writing them. Maybe we should start a campaign. 🙂

        • euansmith

          I would want the title sequence to feature the party’s character sheets; like Suicide Squad but with the hideous execution.

          “The only way for us to escape this death trap is to bend those bars and lift that gate… If only we’d brought a fighter with us!”

    • Xodis

      I hope they bring a classic module to life and stay away from established characters like Drizzt.

      -Tomb of Horrors would make a great 1 shot horror fantasy movie. They would need to go the Mad Max route and embrace what it is and not try to force a bunch of corny narratives in there.
      -Temple of Elemental Evil would be best as a multi part movie (although I am sick of trilogies)
      – Ravenloft so we can have some real Vampire and shrug off some of that leftover Twilight BS still hanging around.
      -I wouldnt even be opposed to the Baldurs Gate PC game being turned into a movie…have to ignore 90% of the sidequests that euansmith is talking about though lol.

  • Sporkel

    So, I haven’t read the whole threat here by now, so I apologise upfront in case it was already mentioned :
    “Astropia” ,a movie centered around the so titled ONLY “Games-Store” in whole of Iceland.

    I really enjoyed it.
    Funny low-budget ode to rpg!

  • BloodAngel

    If you are going to do it, do it right. If you are picking something that will bomb, then divebomb that sucker. Give it to Uwe Boll.

  • Thomas Rilmen

    Dungeons & Dragons…a game of fantasy, a place of mind to escape the mundane of everyday life – a life where anyone can live it on their own term’s without persecution of or from their peers. Yet Society as a whole continues to do so…but how is D&D any different than Warhammer 40K, Shadowrun, Parcheesi, Scrabble, Monopoly, Risk and many countless others’ or even Renaissance Fare’s, L.A.R.P.’s or S.C.A. In truth Fantasy = Fantasy and how others choose to shape their world / lives’ / interest’s should not be harbored as foul and indecent…as the writer of this article clearly stat’s via that writers emotional view’s……it’s sad, presumptuous and under-educated of them.

    All of the Movies titled here-in I have seen and I agree that “Jeremy Iron’s” made a mockery of the movie and for any actor to do so is…well dissing their own reason’s for being an actor, after all D&D is a template for the R.P.G. world(s). Yes, that movie sucked for those Half-ass issue’s.

    “Wrath of the Dragon God” was better for many reason’s, yet the main one’s being that: 1 – the director / script writer / producer and cast requested “”Gary Gygax”” the inventor of D&D back in the 70’s help them make it… 2 – Because of 1 they followed (at the time 3.5ed) the core book’s of the game to enrich the story.

    “Book of Vile Darkness” was a Low budget attempt to reconstruct the acting of “Wrath of the Dragon God” in popularity, not saying it was bad…but it does not have near the following it could’ve had, as it’s story plot was very week…But I do give it an A+ vs. the “Hollywood” crap they called Dungeon’s & Dragon’s staring Jeremy Iron’s and other well known actor’s, Yes that movie was a Major Fail and one in which “Wizard’s of the Coast” is unwilling to re-attempt…after all they nearly lost their global business due to that atrocity.

    “Flight of Dragon’s” was a good cartoon with a well thought out story plot and better executed than I would’ve given credit for, but it did follow through with the division’s of fantasy vs. reality both in an educational format complimenting the fantasy as a whole.

    “Maze’s and Monster’s” staring “Tom Hank’s”, one of his first rolls and one he learned a very valuable lesson from…one in which even “Gary Gygax” tried to teach. That Lesson – Fantasy is not reality and their are people / player’s that can-not tell the difference from either. The story of “Maze’s & Monster’s” revolved around a true-life event of the 70’s of a collage student (freshmen) whom could not tell the difference between reality & fantasy. As media coverage grew over the “Real-Life” tragedy, extreme religious group’s began calling D&D “”Devil’s & Demon’s””…the story / moral of the movie reflected the real-life case and the media / religious hype, it’s a great movie for any D.M. or G.M. to watch and learn from so as to review potential player’s so to avoid such repeat’s…….but as life would have it, there are no guarantees to such realities.

    A movie Block-Buster who’s character was based on a D&D race known as the “Drow” was “Vin Diesel”(s) role as Riddick and the chronicle’s of Riddick. “”Pitch Black / Riddick / Dark Furry”” are a testament to positive and collaborative “Roll Play”… Yes, Vin Diesel is an old-school D&D player / Nerd as are many other Hollywood actor’s and yes…putting them into a new movie done in the spirit of the “Wrath of the Dragon God” would more than likely produce a good movie — finding the right producer and writer and supporting team’s would be the HARDEST CHALLENGE.

    Another good Movie from 1981 is “Dragonslayer” staring Peter MacNicol (played in Ghostbuster’s II) & Shakespearean actor Ralph Richardson as Ulrich…both actor’s which have also played Table-Top RPG’s (D&D).

    As a whole D&D inspires not only entertainment, culture & game’s…but it also inspires’ Education (of / at all level’s & Genres), Critical thinking, Language(s), Art, Religion, Social, Civics, Communication, cooperation, competition, Respect, other real-world skill set’s, Money, Time Management, History (of era’s and Development’s), Geography, Map-Making…the list goes on & on & on……the only limitation is you’re ability to explore…

    Something think over while being critical as to many thing’s that RPG(s) have to offer and whether or another D&D Movie should be made….again with right crew and foresight the movie could the Greatest Blockbuster ever to Made.

  • Maybe it’s a problem with me, but I liked the first three. Especially the first, with Jeremy Irons,although I liked Bruce Payne Damodar much more.

  • Aaron_The_Ys

    If you want a D&D movie to succeed it needs to capture the drama in game and around the table. A fantastic model for this is the online comic Table Titans. It first introduces the players then you see them assume the roles of their characters, and while most of the action is in game you still see how it effects the players.