Thursday, December 11, 2008

There Will Never Be a Good D&D Movie

No matter how many people wish there to be one.

It just isn't possible.

You can make a decent fantasy movie. Maybe. Theoretically. Although they really do tend to be total crap, and I can't think of a single one off the top of my head that's actually good. The best I can seem to come up with is, "not a total farce," or at least, "not disrespectful to the source material." (which disqualifies that awful, yet attractive and shiny, Jackson LotR trilogy).

For some reason, whenever people are using swords and magic in the same film, it's the drizzling shits. And what would make a movie "D&D" instead of, say, Generic Fantasy Piece of Shit? A parade of Intellectual Property that can't make any sense together in the same narrative? A Group of Unlikely Companions on a Grand Quest?

And in the end, it'll be a 90 minute, $50+ million "let me tell you about my cool character!" experience that'll have people with functioning brains clawing out their eyeballs. Because there has to be cool characters, right? You do realize how many tossers will be trying to join your game to play a two-sword wielding dark elf after this? Because we all know who a well-regarded D&D movie would feature... don't we?

The bottom line is that what works on the printed page doesn't necessarily work in a visual medium. The actual story and plot or most fantasy (and horror) literature is often abysmal, but that's not what we're there for, is it? At least I'm there for the imagery and the stimulation of my imagination, which is ignited by clever or unusual wordcraft. A movie will just show something, and then there is no fantasy happening because my brain is passive and accepting imagery rather than generating it.

I want to make my own D&D movie, which will be the definitive D&D movie. It will feature a bunch of older teenage malcontents who don't want to grow up on the farm or apprenticing into their fathers' professions, so they go looking for some fame and fortune in a cave. After an hour of poking floors and walls with a big stick (if the game is one of exploration, it wouldn't be proper to truncate it with a montage, now would it?), one will die when a big spider bites him, three more will die when some goblins rush them from the darkness, and the other four will die when a wandering evil magic-user surprises them from behind with a sleep spell and cuts all their throats.

The sequel will be another group of people, completely unrelated to the first although they all seem to have similar personalities as the deceased forerunners, having a more successful expedition to that same cave. The end of the film will feature the stunning climax of the group killing the wizard and his evil henchmen while suffering minimal casualties, finding a booby-trapped chest under a hidden flagstone, splitting up some coins and gems, and going home.

That'll be some thrilling cinema, for sure. But it'll be as D&D as anything ever put to film.

The excitement from D&D comes because nobody knows what's going to happen next, and the satisfaction comes from people successfully imagining the same thing at the same time as a group. The satisfaction from genre films and literature seems to be the gradual revealing that somebody Has a Special Destiny so all the geeks out there can falsely identify with it so they can be filled with a sense of, "Maybe I'm more special than I realize too!" (not being too cynical today, am I?)

Role-playing games and storytelling are antithetical. If you try mixing the two, you're going to get either crap role-playing, crap storytelling, or (most likely) crap role-playing and crap storytelling.

1 comment:

  1. Did you saw Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God? IMO it's nearly perfect (in popculture movies range) - especially for Gygaxian "game lore" in it. Check this out: