December 10, 2000 -- "Dungeons and Dragons" is jazzed up with a lot of digital effects, but at its heart it's an old-fashioned B-movie swashbuckler whose roots go back to the 1924 version of "The Thief of Baghdad." The story is as old as man. It is not much different than Homer's "Odyssey."
Like all such stories, there is the dashing hero, a beautiful empress, an evil sorcerer and a quest for a magic talisman which could tip the balance of power in the war of good against evil. The hero, Ridley Freeborne, (played by Justin Whalin, who played Jimmy Olson in the most recent Superman TV series) has a sidekick, Snails (Marlon Wayans of "Scary Movie"). Both are thieves who nevertheless become the saviors of the world. The beautiful empress is Savina (played by Thora Birch of "American Beauty"). The evil sorcerer is Profion (Jeremy Irons of "The Man in the Iron Mask") and his henchman is Damodar (Bruce Payne of "Passenger 57"), a guy with strange blue lipstick. There is also an Elfin tracker, Norda (Kristen Wilson) and an apprentice mage, Marina (Zoe McLellan).
There are a lot of fantastic creatures in the movie, like a huge tentacled head that floats around in the air, for instance. There are also dwarves and elves, dragons and lots of magic. Everyone is in search of the Rod of Savrille that gives its wielder power over red dragons. This would counter the Epress' Royal Scepter which allows her to control gold dragons. It is not a bad adventure yarn. There is a little more depth to the characters than you might expect. It is quite disconcerting to see Irons, a fine actor, wildly overacting in the movie. I guess he thought the part called for it, but it was really way too much. Payne was a little over the top as well. The rest of the cast was O.K. It was good to see Tom Baker again. The former Dr. Who appears as the King of the Elves.
The digital effects are quite good, that, and the production design by Bryce Perrin, the art direction by Ricardo Spinacé and the costume design by Barbara Lane and the fine artwork, combine to create a fantastic world of remarkable creatures, buildings, spires, rooms, forests and caves. It is a diverting adventure. This film rates a C+.
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