Dungeons & Dragons [2000]

There is trouble in Izmer. With the emperor dead from an assassin's poison, the 16-year-old princess Savina (Thora Birch) inherits not just the throne but also the royal scepter, which has the power to command gold dragons. With a youthful idealism, she decides all people should be equal, from lowly commoners to the ruling-class, magic-wielding mages. This doesn't sit well with the mages, so Archmage Profion (Jeremy Irons) leads a revolt in the Council against Savina's rule, forcing her to relinquish the royal scepter. In order to maintain her power, she decides she needs the rod of Savrille, which can control red dragons. To retrieve it, she hires two bumbling thieves, Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans), and an apprentice mage (Zoe McLellan). The true trouble in Izmer is the fact that it's a poorly imagined world that cribs more from Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark than it does from the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game that shares its title. Director Courtney Solomon optioned the rights to the game in 1991, when he was 21, and should have spent the years since then drafting a coherent script. Mediocre special effects take precedence over story, and the actors try to make up for that by hamming it up. Irons, in particular, covers his embarrassment by chewing the scenery and spitting it out. Often unintentionally funny, Dungeons & Dragons is that fun kind of bad movie, whose cult status would be all but guaranteed if it weren't for a slow second act mired in the boring bumbling of the awkward thieves. Still, there are plenty of laughs to be had. --Andy Spletzer

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