Remember the Dungeons & Dragons movie from 2000 that, for one baffling executive decision or another, starred Marlon Wayans? No? That's good! It was a cinematic crime against humanity. That hasn't deterred Hollywood from giving the franchise another shot, though. Warner Brothers recently secured the rights to produce the newest film adaption. We really, REALLY want this movie to be a win so Warner Brothers, if you're listening, here are some things we want (and DON'T want) to see in the new D&D movie:
What We Do Want
1) Substantial Story
Not every fantasy flick can hope to have the same levels of grandiosity and complexity as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but that should never be taken as an excuse for writers to draft a tenuous, paint-by-numbers plot. The problem may lie in the studios' belief that swords and sorcery flicks appeal to a smaller audience, so they stuff fantasy movies with obligatory over-the-top special effects that (they think) will pull in the crowds. Such was the issue with 2000's Dungeons & Dragons and similar films like Wrath of the Titans: Substance took a backseat to a bombardment of action scenes that ultimately went nowhere.
2) Well-Chosen Cast of Actors
To be fair, rarely is there ever a perfect cast, but more often than not they're outright terrible. And the worst offenders are those directors and producers that select actors based on their Q Ratings regardless of whether or not they complement the film or demonstrate actual talent. Because if there's anything that would run Dungeons & Dragons into the ground faster, it's casting the likes of Russell Brand or whomever is the undeserving reality TV star for that year.
3) Tomb of Horrors
The Tomb of Horrors module was first published in 1978 and has earned a cult status amongst Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts; this is all in spite of its notoriously unforgiving difficulty. Holding such a special place in the hearts of RPG geeks everywhere, it would only make sense to feature the actual Tomb of Horrors in some capacity, if not make it central to the overall plot. And why wouldn't they? The module's big bad, Acererak the demilich, has the words "main villain" written all over him.
What We Don't Want
1) 3-D Motion Capture
More creepy than it is remarkable, 3-D motion capture has become the go-to production style of choice when a studio wants to maintain a semblance of realism, but doesn't want to spend millions on location scouting and travel budgets. We've already seen this animation method applied in the epic fantasy film Beowulf, so it wouldn't be entirely implausible if Warner Brothers was tempted to take this route for Dungeons & Dragons.
2) Outcome of Events Are Decided by In-Movie Dice Rolls
It's likely that some passing reference or homage will be made to Dungeons & Dragons' universally recognized twenty-sided die—and it shouldn't go any farther than that! Just try to imagine how grating the film version of the RPG would be if the onscreen characters paused momentarily for every monster encounter or mundane social interaction to roll the die and decide on the outcome. Hypothetically, if luck wasn't on the side of the heroes, then the movie would fade to black and roll the credits pretty dang quick!
3) Micheal Bay-style Effects
We said earlier that we'd prefer a movie where story takes precedence over special effects, knowing that there still must be some degree of eye-catching visual effects magic. But please, oh please, oh please don't let Dungeons & Dragons degrade into a Micheal Bay-style extravaganza of gratuitous pyrotechnics and deafening explosions. In reality, the only way such a thing would even be possible is if the ground were soaked in kerosene and every castle, hamlet, and temple had explosives installed into the foundation during its construction.
Will you go see Dungeons & Dragons?