Column by Scott Thorne
Posted by Scott Thorne on December 27, 2022 @ 3:14 am CT
As I mentioned in last week’s column, I do not have high hopes for the Dungeons & Dragons movie: Honor Among Thieves (see "D&D Fireside Chat and RIP Kim Mohan"). Much like many movies today, I think it will do decently the first weekend of release and then drop off rapidly. At least it will make it into theaters, unlike the second and third D&D movies ( I really did not know, until looking up the history of the D&D movies, that there was a second film, see "Judge in D&D Case Urges Settlement").
Mention you are playing Dungeons & Dragons to someone familiar with the game and one of the first questions is, "Which edition?" I know of games in our area running using the 1st, 2nd, 3rd (never 4th and 5th edition) rules. A set of rules is not something you can reasonably reflect in a movie.
Likewise, there are a number of different settings in which a Dungeon Master can run a game, such as Faerun, Greyhawk, Spelljammer, Eberron or a home brew campaign. While each uses the common D&D tropes such as character class, character species and creature types, they vary widely in terms of interpretation.
Since D&D is a rules system and not a "universe," filmmakers could arguably put any fantasy trope into the movie they wanted. A filmmaker could not do that with a Marvel movie or a DC movie or a Star Trek series or even a new season of Bridgerton as those have established storylines and characters that make them "believable." Spider-Man always gets his powers from the bite of a radioactive spider while Batman takes up his crusade after his parents are killed. There is no storyline or book, so to speak, to draw upon for Dungeons & Dragons, so one could reasonably make almost any fantasy movie and call it Dungeons & Dragons.
Looking at the trailer for the film (see "New D&D Movie Posters"), it does give me hope that D&D players will recognize aspects of the game. I remember watching the first D&D movie and the only thing I saw that differentiated it from a generic fantasy movie was one scene that had a beholder in the background. In the trailer, we get an eclectic assortment of character classes (no cleric that I can tell, though) and species as well as appearances by classic D&D creatures such as the black dragon, owlbear and mimic, which does give me hope. Maybe a cameo by Elminster or Drist Do’Urdan would help to bring the movie further into a D&D-specific universe and farther from a generic fantasy one.
Games are notoriously hard to translate into other media. Battleship failed pretty quickly and we have waited since 2008 for the long-delayed Monopoly movie (see "Kevin Hart will Star In Monopoly Movie"). I certainly hope the movie does well but the track record is not good.
Next week? A look back at 2022.
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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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