Fetch that rusty blade of yours, and let us settle this in the battle circle!
I don’t know what’s stranger: that the massive flop Dungeons & Dragons film adaptation got a reasonably direct sequel five years later, or that it was a Syfy Original Picture. Either way, as soon as I found out this was the case, it was so tantalizing I had to pass up a few enticingly-awful-sounding tornado movies for this category.1 And that isn’t something I do lightly.
The only returning character from the original film is Jeremy Irons’ resentful henchman who has been promoted to the primary antagonist for this film. And it’s just impossible to escape the fact that this represents a downgrade on every conceivable level, despite Bruce Payne being fed some wonderfully hammy lines (including his film-opening promise, “I will see them all burn”).
This is a Syfy Original so we’re not exactly gonna belabor this, but the villain downgrade is unsurprisingly somewhat representative of the film as a whole. Despite the original hardly being an example of seamless special effects, the sequel still represents a perceptible downgrade. On top of this the budget forces the film to contend with fairly inexperienced performers, less than ambitious costume and set design, and a noticeably repetitive score.
Fans of D&D will likely be gratified that the lower budget sequel actually adheres to the role-playing game’s profession system much more rigorously than its predecessor, and even puts them in an extremely traditional “adventuring party off on a quest” sort of scenario to boot.
The protagonist is pretty much bland with a side of boring. The real standout of the party is actually Ellie Chidzley as a female barbarian who’s introduced in such an extremely 90s/early 00s “oh the barbarian is actually the girl” fakeout that I was actually worried that she was going to be a classic Strong Female Character trope. And while she certainly has symptoms of that trope, the movie resists the temptation to damsel her, showing her as formidable at every turn. Nor does it have one of the film’s more meek male characters develop an unrequited crush for her that’s eventually requited when she sees his inherent worth or some bullshit like that. And it even brings her back to kick the big bad’s ass before the “real protagonist” can quite get around to that. She’s 90% of why I liked this movie as much as I did for all its flaws, actually.
Though, let’s be real for a second: any movie that has roles credited as “Lizard Shaman #1” and “Lizard Shaman #2” was always going to be at least a little okay in my book.
1. This was originally posted on Letterboxd as part of a challenge in the category of “A Syfy Original Movie.”