It seems that Warner Bros’s has decided to roll the dice on making yet another Dungeons & Dragons movie. Now we all remember how terrible the 2000 movie was, and while this one will be produced by the director of the last one, we can only hope that it’s an improvement. According to Devin Faraci’s article the script for the new movie is actually a script based on Gary Gygax’s original predecessor to Dungeons & Dragons, Chainmail. Also, it turns out that there was a Dungeons & Dragons movie before the 2000 movie which ended up becoming the 1983 movie Krull. It was originally titled Dragons of Krull and somehow the production lost its Dungeons & Dragons licensing.
All this got me thinking, what exactly should a Dungeons & Dragons movie be? Anyone who knows about the game Dungeons & Dragons knows that Dungeons & Dragons really just defines a set of rules for playing in a generic fantasy setting. It was intended for the Dungeon Master to create the world that the players would experience. If one wanted to, they could play Dungeons & Dragons in the Middle Earth setting, the Willow setting, the Harry Potter setting, the Aladdin setting, the Pirates of the Caribbean or really any medieval fantasy setting they wanted to.
So why all the fuss over making a movie called Dungeons & Dragons? While it is true that the original Dungeons & Dragons game was supposed to take place in what became the fantasy setting of Greyhawk, and then later modules of the Dungeons & Dragons game described a fantasy setting called Mystara, TSR and now Wizards of the Coast have created a wealth of fantasy settings for players of the Dungeons and Dragons game. Why not draw on some of those? For example, how awesome would a live action trilogy based on the Dragonlance chronicles be? With the massive success of Lord of the Rings, it would do really well. How about a movie based on Forgotten Realms, or Ravenloft, or even Dark Sun! Creating a movie that is
specifically called “Dungeons & Dragons” just sets the movie up for failure because it’s clearly a gimmick intended to capture a very specific audience. I mean, it’s a game not a story. Movies are stories! If they were really making a movie about Dungeons & Dragons, it would be about people who play the game, and we’ve already been there, done that. It’s obvious to me that by going in that direction, Warner Bros. is not intending to make a great movie, but instead just looking for a quick cash summer movie that will attract a predetermined set of viewers with as little effort as possible very much like Disney’s 2010 movie The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The problem is that if they tried to make something real, they would get those viewers anyway, in addition to the viewers who are really looking for quality entertainment.
That said, it is entirely possible that since the screenplay is based on Chainmail, that is exactly what they have done, and this movie will be great. I just wish they weren’t so fixated on using the Dungeons & Dragons brand to sell movies. Instead they should be looking to focus on making a quality movie, and let it sell tickets on its own merit. Only time will tell, but you can be sure that this nerd will most likely not be going to the theaters for this nerd fest, unless there are some serious indications that this won’t be just another “Dungeons & Dragons” movie.