Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005) — Well let’s try this again, shall we?

“We all have to die some time.”

Justin’s rating: I roll natural 20s

Justin’s review: LAST WEEK ON “DUNGEONS & DRAGONS“: Ismir was torn apart in a civil war between a whiny empress and a megalomaniac mage; Snails died; a dwarf got food in his beard; Star Wars was alluded to again and again; and we discovered the scary secret behind the elves’ pointy breastplates. And now, for this week’s episode…

Oh, if ’twere a perfect world, Dungeons & Dragons: The Wrath of the Dragon God ‘twould be just as hilariously awful and embarrassing as Dungeons & Dragons — selling the lucrative franchise to Syfy to make as a movie of the week seemed like a good start for a bad movie lover. But, alas, woe is me! It isn’t as bad as it could’ve been! It didn’t live down to its potential! It actually does not stab the hearts of millions of PnPers (that’s “pen and paper” role players) worldwide!

Of course, this isn’t to say it’s actually good or anything. It took a spectacular stroke of luck and planetary alignments to make the first film as bad as it became (“Snails died for all of us,” remember), and the crappy movie lightning rarely strikes twice in the same way.

It’s a hundred years after two lousy thieves, a faulty apprentice mage, a cranky dwarf and an elf with absolutely no sense of humor managed to finagle a victory from the clutches of Jeremy Irons’ eyebrows. If you recall, the end of the first D&D had the remaining four turning into orb spirits in search of their dead friends, which has absolutely no follow-through here. Sorry, but you’re just going to have to live an incomplete life from now on.

Instead, our attention switches to Damodar, aka “Blue Lips”, the second-rate baddy from the first movie. After his tumble from a 1000-story tower in D&D, Blue Lips somehow survived as an undead bald guy, although he did lose his favorite brand of lip gloss. No matter. He’ll always be Blue Lips to us. Over a century, Blue Lips devised some sort of scheme to come back from the dead and get revenge — except, whoops! Everyone he’d want to get revenge on is already dead! Might as well kill the world by stealing an orb that calls forth a mighty black dragon to snack on the firmament.

Aiming to stop Blue Lips and steal his precious screen time are a new batch of freshly-rolled heroes (Warning: Nerdy D&D lingo forthcoming). There’s Sir Berek, a 6th-level warrior (retired) who’s wife (a failed 3rd-level mage) gets herself into all sorts of trouble that would require a quite lengthy plot synopsis to reveal. Basically, every attempt at magic on her part backfires spectacularly, and Blue Lips even infects her with an undead wasting disease. Because when you’re in love, you want your honey to look as ugly as you!

The makeup-increasing wife stays behind with a number of other shy actors, who don all manner of colorful robes and walk around with ginormous staves and hope their grandchildren don’t end up watching this. Berek treks out to try to recover the orb, joined by a female barbarian (we know she’s a barbarian, because she’s 1. tall and 2. has a small tattoo on her forehead), a middle-aged rogue, an elfie wizard, and a too-serious cleric. It’s a decent party, but under-equipped to handle future challenges with include a lich attack and a dragon encounter. Meanwhile, Blue Lips doesn’t do too much, other than sulk in his poorly-lit fortress and have Drow blood poured into his spine by his only orc attendant. Sounds like my last spring break, actually.

Many smaller episodes take place: the dying mage mumbles a lot about a book I simply could not care less about, a dove gets electrocuted in a trap (hilarious moment, actually; the female wizard pulls this little guy out in a dungeon — where does she normally keep her doves, anyway? — and gives a little speech about how this bird’s been her friend since childhood. The bird we’ve never seen before this moment, so she obviously cared so much about it to keep it trapped in her pouch for days, but no matter. Then, after that proper introduction, she sets the bird loose in a hallway and ZZZAP! Dead bird. It’s not possible to watch this and restrain from puddling your shorts), a second-rate lich extra from Buffy the Vampire Slayer shows up to talk through his prosthetics, and we’re left to wonder if the kingdom is called “Ismir” (as it is in the first film) or “Ishmear” (as many characters now call it).

As we said, far back in this review that would take too much of your effort to scroll up, D&D 2 isn’t as lousy as all might’ve hoped. Instead, it’s a visible teeter-totter of a movie that waggles between tremendously stupid scenes (the good guys building a raft — a raft! — to escape some guh-guh-ghosts) and moments that are somewhat well-done and in the vein of actual D&D instead of some Hollywood lunatic’s vision of a renaissance festival gone amok. Apparently, they blew $15 million on this thing, which might’ve been more than it deserved, but it does pay off in the many CGI monsters and effects (such as two different and equally impressive dragons).

Most of the money must’ve been blown on the computer angle, because the sets are opposite in inspiration: there’s a drab-looking castle-town; a wooded lot that our adventurers travel through about twenty times; and Blue Lips’ castle o’ shadows. In this respect, D&D 2 is quite like the first film in failing to really bring us into a rich fantasy world (versus what we get, which screams “Eugene, Oregon”).

So, yeah. No one is nearly as annoying as a Wayans brother here, the story is more involving, the effects better done, and my heart nearly broken. GIVE ME BAD SEQUELS!

Didja notice?

  • Nifty opening credits! I really like the mix of live action and the storybook pages
  • Baldy blue lips is back! So, he didn’t die, he just became “undead”?
  • Ishmear? I think you mean Ismir, bud.
  • That’s a really dull sword fight
  • He just got schooled by a 15-year-old
  • The lecture on arcane vs. divine magic (no clerics in Ismir, eh?)
  • The bearded guy’s HORRIBLE accent
  • Should he be… poking the giant dragon in the eye like that?
  • Ah, so this is 100 years after the first film. Good to know. And Blue Lips wants revenge on the kids of the first heroes.
  • Heh. I like the cleric. SHOES OFF IN CHURCH!
  • Is it bad that I sort of like this group of heroes?
  • So Blue Lips eats through a funnel in his spine? Interesting.
  • Lava critter, meet the mage fire suppression system
  • I like the rogue… he’s old, but frisky
  • Blue Lips has, like, one minion
  • Ice dragon! Funky!
  • Taking a bath in these kinds of movies is a practical invitation to be assassinated, yes?
  • The wizard has a familiar… well, that was a short lived familiar
  • Ah. It’s an elimination movie.
  • Blue Lips can regrow limbs… good to know
  • Honey, you got REAL ugly
  • Heh, I like the lich’s attitude. “Kill him yourself”

One comment

  1. I have never been able to sit through this movie.
    I was turned off by the setting. They went from this thriving Metropolis style city to the Renfair gone wrong as was mentioned. I mean, I realize they cast out a large portion of the Mage ruling class, but damn… that’s a big fall.
    “The lecture on arcane vs. divine magic (no clerics in Ismir, eh?)”
    The first movie does imply that only the elves use divine magic in Ismir. Though again, that’s a few hundred years in the past.

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