Entertainment News Top Albums Music Poll Box Office Stats Movie Polls

Radio Free Movie Reviews

Radio Free Entertainment


Review by Andrew Manning (12/00)

Release: 2000, New Line
Starring: Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Thora Birch, Jeremy Irons
Director: Courtney Solomon
MPAA Rating: [PG-13] violence
Genre: Fantasy/Action

Adventure hinges on more than just a throw of the dice...

Interview: Hawaii Five-0's
Grace Park

Angel Has Fallen
Unicorn Store
Pet Sematary
Toy Story 4
Bill and Ted Face the Music
Five Feet Apart
Captain Marvel
Into the Spider-Verse
The Little Mermaid
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Frozen II
Birds of Prey
Summer '03
The Nutcracker and the...
Alita: Battle Angel
The Nun
Lady Business
Mary, Queen of Scots
The Keeping Room
Hush, Hush
Nobel's Last Will


Entertainment News
Weekly Top 20 Movies
2010 NBA All-Star Promo
Weekly Top 20 Albums
Contact Us

Anna Kendrick
Alexandra Daddario
Antje Traue
Lindsay Sloane
Angela Sarafyan
Saoirse Ronan
Teresa Palmer
Hailee Steinfeld
Odette Yustman
Grace Park
Ashley Bell
Kristen Stewart
Bridgit Mendler
Danielle Panabaker
Helena Mattsson
Carla Gugino
Jessica Biel
AnnaSophia Robb
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Emmy Rossum
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Angelina Jolie
Keira Knightley
Alison Lohman
Hilary Swank
Evan Rachel Wood
Nicole Kidman
Piper Perabo
Heather Graham
Shawnee Smith
Kristen Bell
Blake Lively
Elizabeth Banks
Camilla Belle
Rachel McAdams
Jewel Staite
Katie Stuart
Michelle Trachtenberg
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Jessica Alba
Famke Janssen
Elisabeth Shue
Cameron Diaz
Shannon Elizabeth
Salma Hayek
Emily Perkins


Inexperienced adventurers Ridley (Whalin) and Snails (Wayans) must stop an evil warlord (Irons) from conquering a peaceful kingdom.


Impressive visuals are king in this entry in a long-neglected genre.


When you ask someone to name a fantasy movie, most people will come up with something like Conan the Barbarian. That proves that Yes, Virgina, it's really been that long since we've seen a major fantasy motion picture. This is a seriously neglected genre (though it shall soon be less so, thanks to the highly anticipated Lord of the Rings trilogy on the horizon). But Dungeons and Dragons, if nothing else, proves one thing: that this is a class of movies that can provide as much action as any terrorist, car chase, or destructive asteroid flick.

The movie plays out like a game of Dungeons and Dragons: when a spellcasting tyrant (Jeremy Irons) attempts to conquer a peaceful kingdom ruled by a young empress (Thora Birch), it's up to a band of mismatched adventurers to stop him. To these ends, they must go on a quest to obtain a magical staff that has the power to control dragons. In the final analysis of might-makes-right, it's all about who controls the great scaly beasts.

The special effects seamlessly integrate real world actors with computer generated dragons and other fantastic denizens. The visuals are truly impressive, especially when armadas of dragons fill the screen and wreak havoc. During such scenes, the action is fast and furious, and the fantasy genre's depiction of magic stands out as an extremely cool plot device. One of my favorite moments in this film was when Irons ices over a tower in order to deflect the fire of incoming dragons.

While the story is fairly pedestrian and lacks any depth whatsoever, the movie makes up for its shortcomings with a good amount of action and beautiful visuals. Perhaps my low expectations made me more receptive to this movie, but all I wanted was flashy magic and dragons locked in aerial deathmatches--and that's what Dungeons and Dragons delivered.


Many elements of Dungeons and Dragons seem borrowed from better films that came before it. Most annoying and notable of these is Thora Birch's character of the Empress (can anyone say "Episode One"?). The Empress is a virtual knock-off of Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace, right down to the "addressing the counsel" scene.

As the main villain, Jeremy Irons takes his role far too seriously. He's so unshakably evil that he's not much of an interesting character, and no sense of fun comes through this role in the least. I wanted to tell him, "Hey, it's a D&D movie, lighten up!"

Finally, too much of the movie spends time being a game of Dungeons and Dragons instead of telling a story. The party of heroes navigate through treacherous mazes, dodge fantastic obstacles, and swordfight with evil creatures. It's so terribly game-like that you nearly expect them to roll dice in the middle of scenes. While a developed story wasn't the most critical element to the success of this movie, it would have been nice to have at least a little engaging storytelling.

Rating: 6 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

Related Material
More Movie Reviews


© 1997-2000 Stark Productions