After the atrocity of Dungeons & Dragons the Movie it’s doubtful whether any sequel ever had lower expectations than this. Fortunately things could only get better. Wrath of the Dragon God could not be more different from its predecessor, and it’s gratifying to see criticism being used constructively.
Set in Ismer a century on the city is unrecognisable, but Damodar, the blue-lipped henchman (minus the blue lips) and only recurring character (played by Bruce Payne), plans to destroy it. It seems Jeremy Irons cursed him with undeath (justification for blue lips if ever I heard one) so Damodar, seeking revenge, locks him in a room with the first movie playing on a continual loop recovers the magical Orb of Thingamabob to awaken the sleeping Dragon God.
Overall the acting is very toned-down and emotionless, the exceptions being Tim Stern as Nim and the aforementioned Bruce Payne, who’re both a pleasure to watch. Mark Dymond as the lead, Berek, provides a steady performance, but when the script calls for vulnerability there’s none, making him come across as a little inhuman.
Other characters serve their roles as part of the group dynamic, with a Mage, Barbarian and Cleric providing a genuine D&D feel. As characters, however, they are not very interesting and their performances instantly forgettable. Ellie Chidzey as Lux was a laughably unconvincing Barbarian and the most blatantly inserted eye-candy I’ve seen in a long time!
With a smaller budget the special effects are less extravagant, but this is an improvement in my opinion. The entire film has been desaturated with a grey filter to give it a dull, ominous feeling: a simple, understated effect you might hardly notice but which is effective and changes the mood. The special effects in Wrath of the Dragon God are not used for their own sake or to disguise a bad story, they are only used where needed. True, the CG is obvious and the set sometimes wobbles, but this is, after all, only so much dressing for the meat of the Movie: the Story.
It has one! Yes, I was as surprised as you! Actually the story is Wrath of the Dragon God‘s strongest element, well structured, much like a Dungeons & Dragons scenario, it has a strong explorative feel and each character gets to use their special abilities to solve a problem. The characters discuss tactics in advance and later carry them out, reflecting the experience of playing an RPG and providing the opportunity to explain elements, such as spells, which a non-gamer would not be familiar with. This makes the action easy to follow but it gets bogged down in over-meticulous detail. As a D&D fan I appreciate the effort, but it detracts from Wrath of the Dragon God as a Movie.
A good introduction for people interested in playing Dungeons & Dragons, Wrath of the Dragon God is an accurate reflection of the game with plenty of fan service. As a fantasy film it’s a good adventure definitely worth watching once. Exceeds expectations.
- The Characters frequently reference classic D&D scenarios.
- There’s an extra that sometimes carries the Monkey Staff for Lord Oberon, the High Mage. He’s notable for pulling the most hilarious facial expressions in the background whilst everyone else is concentrating on Serious Dialogue.