The end result: one of the many fine films that would eventually lead to the fall of New Line Cinema — and a thoroughly mortifying experience overall for all who have the misfortune of beholding it.
And yet, somebody thought this box-office flop needed a sequel.
Granted, the follow-up feature, Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath Of The Dragon God, is twenty-times better than the original — but it’s still rather dumb. In it, Bruce Payne’s character (minus the lipstick) returns from the hoary netherworld to inflict more trouble for the good people of whatever the hell the name of the fictional kingdom in the series is. This time, though, he’s thwarted by a retired soldier (Mark Dymond), his mage wife (Clemency Burton-Hill) and a ragtag group of warriors. Really, that’s it in a nutshell. While it may be a lot easier to stomach than the first, it’s still not a very remarkable achievement: I made it about halfway through the flick before I realized I had seen it before when it first hit DVD. On the plus side, though, all of the actors onboard seemed to have received the memo about “consistent accents from all” (the modestly-budgeted project was filmed in Eastern Europe, using a mostly-British cast for its lead actors).
Although I completely understand Warner’s need to make certain older catalogue titles available on Blu-ray, I really wonder why they’d waste valuable plastic producing this release en masse. There are plenty of other, superior fantasy flicks out there that haven’t even seen the digital light of day period — and the fact that both D&D-based movies are included in this one set still probably won’t impel fans of the films (where applicable) to buy it, no matter how cheap it is. Additionally, the 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC HD transfer on the first film isn’t all that hot: it’s quite grainy (particularly in the darker scenes), and the contrast and detail are so-so — but at least the colors are bright enough to bring out the gaudy even more than ever before!
The second flick, on the other hand, boasts a slightly-improved transfer. That said, however, the palette of the shot-on-video movie is pretty dreary to begin with, and the picture is pretty inert overall. But hey, at least the detail is a’ight. Sound-wise, both entries have a tame DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack at their helm (the first film also features an optional French Dolby Digital 5.1 mix), neither of which really succeed in grabbing you by any sort of body part or organ whatsoever — but they suffice quite well when you compare them to what you’re seeing onscreen. English (SDH), French and Spanish subtitles are included.