Dungeons and Dragons [retro viewing]

Before I began my quest, which I knew would be an arduous and trying experience, I thought, what the hey? Might as well check out the “special features” on this craptacular DVD I purchased (under a fit of partial amnesia and brain worms, in my defense). People, it’s telling that before you start the movie up, they’re already trying their best to annoy you with menu “games” that you have to solve to get to the special features. One viewing of the film’s trailer and a deep breath later, I plunged in to watch Dungeons & Dragons for my second — and probably last — time. Will it be as bad as my first experience, or even worse, without PoolMan’s comforting sobbing somewhere to the left of my shoulder?

The film kicks off with a tribute to Braveheart, as we plow through miles of mist while the narrator forgets to turn on the fog lights. He does, however, inform us that in this fan-tastic fantasy country, the mages (“Those with magic,” he helpfully explains to anyone with brain trauma in the audience) are the Have’s, and the rest of the public common slime are the Have-Not’s. The place is Ismir, which makes me continually think of “pap smear”, a Spell of Gross Connection to say the least. The sinister voice also gives us our two main victims, the Heroic Empress Savina (“Who wants equality for all”, suggesting that she is a Communist), and the Evil Profion, a name which sounds like a prescription drug that cures fungal rot. 0:33

With that, and the audience’s blood tingling with the endless exciting possibilities, the words “A Sweetpea Entertainment Production” flashes on screen. Popeye lurks nearby. 0:55

Suddenly, we find ourselves swooping along inside someone’s lackluster version of Photoshop. As we’ll discover, Dungeons & Dragons quite loves its computer effects, all of which are just three shades too fakey to be able to be swallowed by viewers. They’re not Tron horrible, but all of it has that “video game cutscene” feel, and nowhere near the polish of Fellowship of the Ring, which came out not too long after this. Over a bridge, around a city, and deep into the spooky, spooky sewers we go! What’s going on down here? Is it a poker tournament? Why, it’s an underground room tastefully decorated with skulls! Gears! Torches! And what appears to be a janitor! Mopping! 1:39

We get our first glimpse of Profion (Jeremy Irons), freshly back from another circuit through pharmacy conventions. What’s Evil wearing today? Black garb, a maroon cloak, and a crazed expression, it seems. While he makes his descent down the Evil Beauty Pageant staircase, his first runner-up Damodar (Bruce Payne) is standing by. In a movie full of wacky outfits, prosthetics and hair design, Damodar handily tops them all due to a little thing we like to call Blue Lips. Seriously. His lips are bright, Kool-Aid blue. And he’s completely bald. The whole effect of his look screams less “threatening” and much more “got lost on my way to a rave.” 1:56

Profion shows off his wind-swept eyebrows, and then lets loose a torrent of electricity at a rotating wand in a gyroscope. “So be it, young Jedi!” The skulls on the table don’t seem to mind. They like a good show before dinner. Whatever he does seems to work, because Profion looks slightly less constipated,

My...wacky...preciousss!

and he stalks across the room to get the green wand. Man, these skulls are everywhere! Let’s have a counting contest, for those of you at home! In any case, Jeremy Irons sports the most goofy-looking expressions of glee, evil and post-orgasmic bliss as he takes this wand and hisses in delight. Geez. 2:48

Ordering the hooded janitors to let a dragon loose — a dragon they somehow captured and brought down into the sewers, no less — Profion stands at the ready. A peeved computer graphic stomps out of captivity and promptly fries one of the janitors with a fireball. Them’s the breaks. P

rofion’s newly acquired wand, which he did not really have to go through much to get, Imight add, tamesthe dragon. Damodar is stunned. “You have the power to control dragons!” he bellows. Well, yes, Damodar. What did you think we were doing here? Making pasta? Damodar grins and smirks like a dull-witted school yard bully let in on a secret. 4:14

But oh no! Profion loses control of the computer graphic and it starts to charge! With some patented Magictm, he rips a page from Return of the Jedi and kills the dragon by making the heavy door fall. Guess you won’t be roasting any Empresses tonight, Proffie. 5:13

I liked it better with Profion, however, because some spilled dragon’s blood — which ignites water, apparently — blows us out of the sewers and into the laps of our second-tier heroes, Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans). They’re supposed to be thieves, but what they really want to be is a comedy duo. Don’t worry,

they suck at both. Ridley has the pretty boy look going on, with a sort of Han Solo-lite outfit, while Snails — perhaps the DUMBEST name ever given to a character in a film — looks exactly as if the D&D wardrobe department thought that since he’s black, they should make him look like he stepped out of a

Always keep your mouths open and your earflaps up.

modern ghetto. In a worldof blue lips and flammable blood, Snails is the element which does not belong the most. He and Ridley bicker about the Mages being big fat meanies, but you can see the love is still there. 5:58

Like Gotham City, Ismir is peppered with impossibly tall skyscrapers; and like Batman, this director can’t help but swoop up and down them before every scene. Hope you’re not afraid of heights! We swoop right into a counsel room where Profion is swaying the rabble-like crowd of mage senators to take

away the Empresses’ sceptor (another dragon-controlling wand). Apparently, she’s”young” and has “revolutionary views” to be nice to the non-mages. Sucker. Jeremy Irons pops another Overacting Pill and goes to work. No scene too big, no part too small, to chew through like a rabid grinch. 8:35

Here we meet the lil’est Empress (Thora Birch), who will shock and surprise you with her childish underacting. Walking through a very scenic cathedral, she whines to her advisor about how all the other meanie mages are turning against her. While I know we’re supposed to root for her and her cause in the film, she’s yet to show the me that she could be a competent leader. I’d rather have Mr. Evil in charge, at least he’d get things done. In this scene, the Empress looks like a cross between Cruela DeVille and a Japanese Geisha. “All people deserve to be free and equal, whether the be common or mage!” the petulant Empress says. Luke Skywalker, we’ve found your soulmate in whine. By the way, she “knows” this in the “depths of her soul”. Wow. She is deep. By the way part two, there’s apparently a THIRD magic wand out there that controls red dragons. Nobody in the film audience has any idea what the first two wands do, anyway, so there might as well be another one. 9:32

"But I wanna go to Tashi Station to pick up some power converters."

Oh no! It appears the Profion, who’s already had a full day, was listening in! And he wants the wand! Thus, he commands Blue Lips to go get a scroll (Now there’s a scroll too! Better keep notes, I say.) from the advisor. I’m guessing it’s a treasure map to a better movie. 10:20

So far, in the first ten minutes, the director has firmly established that he likes (a) putting random skulls everywhere, and (b) long sweeping computer camera shots up and down buildings. Someone needs to tell him there’s a better way to transition between scenes. Or,well, any other way at all. 10:25

Dear Lord, it’s like Ping-Ponging between bad actors and bad actors. Back we go to Snails and Ridley, who have somehow climbed 500 feet into a mage school tower. They have some faintly humorous bantering (Snails talking about being beaten from “the waist down” by a halfling is a cheery thought). They look around, and impressed by a dragon skeleton, they start hugging in greedy glee. Mind you, they haven’t actually stolen anything yet, but they just like the hugs. 11:33

In the Sistine Chapel-ish library (this film crew did go to a lot of nice Prague locations), the Empress’ advisor is urging his assistant Marina to learn the Dewey Decimal System, and pronto! Looking the part of a stereotypical tight-bunned yet sexy librarian, Marina learns some more of the exposition. The Empress has three days to find the other rod to maintain her rule, and there’s a lot of stuff about how or what the rods do, but man… it’s late and I don’t care much about dragon control right now. Marina pines to be a full-fledged mage, but as we discover, nobody in this film is actually capable in the character class they’re given. She’s like a level minus-five mage, where every spell she casts ends up vaporizing her own torso. 12:50

Meanwhile, Snails is trying to steal what appears to be a two-ounce, three-foot dragon tooth, and Ridley is showing off his butt to the audience. Snails was better off with the tooth, because his next find sends a huge dragon hologram roaring through the air. That kinda defeats the thieves’ stealth rating, but it’s for the sake of the plot. Marina investigates, and S&R pretend to be the cleaning crew. What is up with this film and janitors? She isn’t having any of it, and uses magictm to tie them up. Ridley and Marina start sparring words, apparently trying to work up some sexual “I like you but I’m going to pretend I hate you” tension, but it makes no sense since they don’t even know each other yet. By the way, they’re “magically” tied up with four of the loosest loops of rope you’ll ever see. I think the actors had to press against it to keep it from falling down. 15:13

A yell sends Marina (with Snails and Ripley in tow) to the rescue of her mentor. Blue Lips and his “Crimson Guard” are trying to find the Scroll of Plot Understanding. The old man flings the scroll at Marina, dies for it (was it worth it, old man?), and Marina starts

Rogaine to the rescue!

flinging magictm all over the place. She’s doing quite well for herself, at least until she opens a portal and takes the scroll and the thieves along with her. Why is this not so great? Because she fails to, you know, CLOSE it behind her. So the great escape portal only helps us transition between the library and a trash-filled alley way. She falls into a heap below a sign stating “No Dwarves Allowed”. Is that politically correct? 16:11

That’s the cue for us to meet yet another companion, Elwood the Dwarf. He’s not so much Dwarfy, considering that he’s just as tall as most of the other characters, but he’s got the beard and the axe and the Viking helmet, so I’ll forgive the indiscretion. Elwood’s my favorite in this movie, as he quickly proves that he not only has a goodish sense of humor, but single-handedly takes on Blue Lips here and actually knocks him down! Go ‘woody!

The good guys leap into the sewer entrance. Marina, obviously not Princess Leia, whines about the oncoming filth. Ridley, with the full blessing of the audience, throws her in. Blue Lips orders guards to be posted to “every sewer exit”. He is not about to ruin his fantastic looks, no sir. 17:21

But it’s okay! For some unexplained reason, our four heroes are now out of the sewers, in broad daylight, hiding behind a cart! Thank goodness for that, the tension was killing me. They discover that Ridley is up for the murder of the advisor, and Marina — full of new-found loyalty to her companions — wants to turn them all in to the authorities. The others beat her until she dies. At least, I wish. They slink off instead. 18:30

Another camera swoop up an impossibly tall tower, and Profion is chewing out Blue Lips for letting the girl go. Blue Lips looks like he’s going to cry. Also, for those of you filling in your flow charts trying to keep track of characters, places, and plot points, Profion moans that the Empress has sent Norda, her finest “tracker”, to look for the scroll. Who’s this Norda? And will she have mockable properties? Only time will tell.

Head worms. Blue lips. He's already dead.

To ensure Blue Lips’ continued loyalty, Profion gives him worms. Head worms, to be exact, that sprout out of his ears and will only be removed when Profion gets his junk. For some reason, this makes Blue Lips all sulky. Evil guys never get good health plans. 20:28

Cut to Mos Eisley Cantina. Er, I mean, a generic and wholesome fantasy tavern where the prosthetic department went nuts and raided old Star Trek labs for alien makeup. I think I spy a gnoll, some halflings, and your standard semi-nude backup dancers, but that’s as close as we’re going to get for authentic D&D for the time being. Our heroes are living it up, and Elwood’s making a complete pig out of himself. I so love Elwood, in a proud platonic sense. He doesn’t even care this movie is crappy, he’s just making the best out of a bad situation. The dwarf wants gold for their efforts (what efforts?), Marina wants to

“save the Empire”, and Mr. Han Solo isn’t buying that. By the way, Ridley emotes so much that his face develops and incredible amount of crinkles. Count them yourself!

Marina and Ridley go through the tired motions of “bantering”, but I think they’re just both terrified of the mere notion of sex with each other and don’t want to ratchet the insults up in fear of falling in lust. Threatening to go, Ridley doesn’t, and instead manages to decifer the scroll within ten seconds. He disappears into it, and Elwood looks minorly concerned while dripping turkey meat down his beard. Marina does the same thing. Disappears. Elwood’s beard is in the same deplorable condition. Ridley and Marina can be seen walking in the scroll. 23:19

Crinkly and Beardy

In the next scene, Blue Lips is paying someone off, then warns his guards not to let the heroes escape (wait, they’ve already escaped… so, don’t let them escape even more?). “Or I will inflict a pain on you far more than was inflicted on me,” he growls. It seems his head worms are making his ears red. He’s a primary color villain! 23:45

Unconcerned about their missing (loud) comrades, Elwood is regaling Snails with a story of how he’s all that and a bag of chips in battle. Snails turns to see Norda, our elvish tracker, stalk through the tavern. She’s wearing a cloak, so we can’t yet see the ultimate outfit of anyone in this film, but patience will be rewarded, dear reader. Snails is in lurve. Elwood poo-poo’s elves, saying

that dwarf women have “hair on their chin that you can hang on to” (enter humping motions). Snails goes to work on Norda, giving her a modern come on line: “Are you looking for somebody in particular… or just somebody?” Yes, Snails, she gets it. You’re a prostitute. Go wait in the corner. 25:30

Oh no! Because our heroes only “escaped” perhaps twenty feet from where they were last seen, Blue Lips and his backup dancers have found them boozing it up! Elwood notices the intrusion with an expression that mimics Doc Brown from Back to the Future. “Great Scott!” Blue Lips’ theme music, by the way, is the first three notes to the Imperial March from Empire Strikes Back. It’s used often in this film, and without remorse. Elwood, my man of action, grabs the scroll and the biggest honking battle axe you’ve ever witnessed, and staggers down the stairs. It’s obvious that this axe is made of painted foam, but hey, it’s BIG. While Blue Lips just stands there scratching his caped butt, Elwood upturns a table and yells “Bar fight!” Tavern patrons, always on the verge of gratuitous violence, start grappling with each other for no reason, except homoerotic love. Elwood grabs Snails, who wants to go back because (roll eyes now, I command you) he’s in “love”. Fine, leave him. Puppy dog needs to be

"One point twenty-one jiggawatts!"

castrated anyhow. They escape, and Norda bashes a few heads before making her own exit. Thus we learn that evil is easily thwarted by semi-rowdy bar flies. 26:40

Outside in the woods (?), Snails opens the scrolls and magicallytm recalls Blinky and Boinky from their prison. Since when did Snails know anything magical? Maybe it’s his hobby. Not so surprisingly for the script writers, the two are still bickering. In an amusing turn, Snails shoves Marina aside, roughly, to talk to Ridley. Marina starts to spill out more of the confusing exposition: the rod (which color now?) they’re looking for caused a “great war” and can control red dragons. A side thought: has anyone considered, in this “fair and equal” progressive group, that dragons might not li

ke to be controlled by anyone wielding a colored stick? Okay, more exposition! Ridley explains. To get the dragon wand — instead of just going home and drinking hot cocoa like any sane individual — they have to meet a dragon, and before they do THAT, they have to get the “eye of the dragon” from the Thieves’ Guild. Spiffy. The running time of this movie keeps upping itself. Snails suggests they just run away instead. I hate to say this, but he’s the smart man. However, Marina smirks while Ridley explains that he’s a whipped, fully emasculated love slave and has to do this for his chick. Snails throws what could be accurately described as a “hissy fit.” Proving an obscure point that even crappy movies have their moments, Snails sputters out, “I’ve got a new word for ‘stupid’ now: ‘Ridley’! This is the Ridleyest thing I’ve ever heard!” Ridley uses some reverse psychology on his life partner by “understanding if you don’t want to go” while smiling like a jackel. Elwood needs to behead SOMEbody at this point. Snails falls for it. What a Ridley thing to do. Elwood agrees to come along, but for the money alone. He also completely breaks the fourth wall by looking directly at the camera and shaking his head in shared pain. Norda’s spying on them all, by the way, and this concludes the Chapter of Meandering Plot Points. 30:32

Back in the city, our Adventure Party walks into a grungy part of town. The two thieves spot a purple-headed dude, and they follow him. Remembering that no character in this film can be proficient in their profession, Ridley and Snails are about as stealthy as a crying baby shooting off fireworks (which would, by the way, make a much better film). They catch up with the purple guy, who’s also got head spikes, a nose ring, Amish beard, and a third eye. Not much for overkill, is he? He doesn’t help. Hooray. Elwood tears Marina away from window shopping — “If I ain’t drinking, you ain’t shopping!” They all follow Purple Head to the guild, while Snails — why not — wears boots on his head. Snails also steals what appears to be a dead, stuffed cat. Snails, I hate you so much. I wish

Close your trap, or you'll catch flies.

you would just… well, let’s say my dream is coming true soon, my friend. They find the Thieves’ Guild, which isn’t that hidden or secret; it appears that half the neighborhood is in there partying. In an obvious bit of scene-correcting dubbing, Ridley “tells” Elwood to stay outside, right as the movie shows Elwood clearly entering the place. Ever diplomatic and tactful, our heroes get fingered for outsiders and captured immediately. Snails is taken away to have his fingernails yanked out, one by one (at least, I hope that’s what happened). Ridley and Marina share a different fate, that of walking into an opulent room and meeting the King Thief himself. Who’s bald and sporting huge hoop earrings. Doesn’t anyone in this film just look, I don’t know, NORMAL? He does a bit of friendly interrogation while spanking Marina. Mhm. Spankie. King Thief tells them that if they want the Eye of the Dragon, Ridley has to get through a deadly maze. Ridley — who looks remarkably like Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, if I haven’t mentioned that already — learns that no one’s ever gotten through it alive. DUM DUM DUM DUMMMMM! 35:55

In the film’s first key action sequence, and one of the very few ones that have anything remotely to do with the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game, Ridley enters his “dungeon” maze. Jabba’s entourage watches from above. The first hallway features both spikes shooting up and huge pendulum blades swinging at precise moments. Every person who’s played a video game in their life shrugs, releasing all tension, as they realize that all Ridley has to do is jump-pause-jump-jump-pause-run. Piece of cake. Ridley accomplishes this fairly mundane task while the musical score has an epileptic fit. The next room hosts dozens of stone eyes that shoot gigantic fireballs. As Ridley crouches, afraid of losing his precious locks to heat damage, it’s apparent that he’s carrying the priceless, highly flammable scroll. *beating my head on my desk* Listen up, Ridley, for all of your crinkles and shoddy acting, you’re not the most annoying character here, so don’t push your luck. My hatred can only be spread around so far. He figures out this simple trap and leaps through a closing doorway, which knocks his fedora off of his head. The third room, which has both spikes AND fireballs, is also easily defeated by a sword strike to an hourglass. This admits Ridley into the final chamber (short maze, eh?), where the Eye is on a sinister pedestal. Red light bathes the chamber, as Ridley carefully advances, checks for traps, and… well, just takes it off. That’s it. No big finish. The Deadly Maze Of Three Rooms And No End Boss, folks! 41:10

Flush with triumph, Ridley learns that victory is short-lived; King Thief wants his gem back. Before things get ugly, Blue Lips enters to his Imperial March theme. What, is this guy perpetually five minutes late to every scene? Despite living in the same city and being the

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

head of his organization, King Thief doesn’t know who Blue Lips and his Crimson Crusaders are. But he does do a

fair bit of outraged preening, and Blue Lips counters with growling threats. Ridley, ever ready to do something completely bone-headed, lights the scroll/map on fire and orders a path to be cleared. Fire! Scary! Being flame retardant, the map barely burns, and Ridley makes about two steps before All Hell Breaks Loosetm. The bad guys and the lesser bad guys have at it, the scroll gets kicked around, Marina and the scroll get captured by Blue Lips, and Ridley goes after in hot pursuit. Got all that? Elwood, supposedly watching the exits, is nowhere to be seen. 45:30

Back at the same wooded lot two scenes prior, Snails wants to sell the loot while Ridley is bound and determined to get himself a girlfriend. They’re captured by — no, not Blue Lips, he’s fighting the morning commute — shadowy figures with crossbows. Who turn out to be Norda and her crew. First of all, elves with CROSSBOWS? Is this the laziest bunch of elves in the world? And second… we finally see Norda’s full ensemble. Putting Joel Schumacher to shame, Norda’s breastplate is so generous and pointed with her breasts, that let’s just say we’re very surprised she’s not constantly tipping forward in this scene. She’s a material girl in a material world. Norda, playing a huge catch-up game to be the most unlikable person, snarls insults like “human!” and sneers all unfriendly-like. She wants to arrest Ridley and Marina, but Ridley explains the laughable plot up to that point. This gives Norda pause, because she really likes Star Trek and wants to be a Vulcan instead of an elf. So she whips out her pocket communicator and calls the Empress. You’d think I’m lying, but… no, sadly not. Pocket communicator and all. Her image appears in the Empress’ magictm mirror, and the Empress asks for a situation report from the planet surface. Thora Birch in this scene looks about seven years old, and acts pretty much the same. You know what? I’m starting to think that Profion is actually in the right in trying to remove this clueless snot from power — she has no business being a hall monitor, nevermind an Empress of a largely CGI kingdom. She tells Norda to find Blue Lips before her bedtime, and also to bring her a warm glass of milk. 48:21

At an undisclosed castle, Blue Lips interrogates Marina for information. In a strange turn for the scene, instead of beating the crap out of the girl, Blue Lips goes for sympathy, telling her of the death sentence on his head if he doesn’t get the rod. He scrunches up his face and just about cries, causing every male watching this movie to leave the room and disavow themselves of D&D forever. Turning scary, Blue Lips uses his head worms to suck information out of Marina’s head. He instantly regrets this, as it means he becomes aware of more of the dumb story. Hey Mister Lips? Why didn’t you skip the whole sob story and go straight to the ear worms instead? You lonely or something? 51:55

You'll put your eye out, kid.

Our heroes are off on a midnight horsie ride. Elwood’s not doing so good, as he remembers that the universal dwarf stereotype is that they can’t ride horses. He cries too. Geez, when did we turn into the Lifetime channel? Norda finds a tracking clue in the near-total darkness. Snails leaps down to hit on her, which is… awkward. Snails, acting as a goofy spaz of a 21st-century black comedian, is in another universe when faced by Norda, whose icy-cold stares and typical elvish snobbery gets none of it. It’s completely surreal to watch. 53:40

Another poor CGI scan of Blue Lips’ castle takes us to The Daring Rescue! Brought to you by that guy in the movie theater who just wouldn’t shut up — because only he is as annoying as Snails. Snails and Ridley, having magicallytm produced giant grappling hooks from their buttocks, charge up to the wall. The lazy elves and Norda provide moral support in the form of stony glares. Peeking over the wall, the thieves witness the entire Crimson Brigade (which keeps making unfortunate references to menstruation metaphors in my head) working out to the Imperial March. They sneak around them. In broad daylight. A Beholder — one of the only actual D&D monsters featured in the film — is sleeping on guard duty. It and the guards fall for the incredibly old “We throw the stone one way to make a noise and move in the other direction” trick. You know, for all of the love that this film’s director claims to have for D&D, he doesn’t seem to know a damn thing about the game. His biggest misconception is that horrible monsters like to serve mankind in any way possible, whether it be for guard duty or as weapons of mass destruction. The D&D-connection placements are so randomly fitted in within the movie, that it’s as if someone decided to make a Lord of The Rings movie, except for placing it in modern-day New Jersey and not referencing any of the books except for one scene where a short guy holding a ring runs from left to right through a gas station bathroom. Ridley and Snails run into the Castle of Things Ridleyer Than They Are. 54:40

The worst thieves alive enter the castle’s dungeon, having somehow exactly pinpointing where both Marina and the map are. They break up — Ridley, to his lover’s bosom; and Snails, to a half-burned piece of paper. Snails keeps sniping away in typical crazy-ghetto speak (“We gotta work on some new plans!”), but happily my brain tunes him out every time he talks and replaces the noise with the sound of a singing nightengale. They warn each other to “be careful” before setting out, which is clear Movie Speak for “one of us is going to die very soon.” Dear Lord, I don’t ask you for much… well that’s not true, I ask you for a lot, but can you please, please make Snails be the one who bites it? Amen. In a quick response to my prayer, Snails hits his head on a doorframe. Not enough for brain trauma, but it’s a start. 55:37

And speaking of eyes...

Outside, Elwood fields the thought that maybe they should go in and help. You know, because they represent 50% of this team’s actual fighting force and all. Norda, wise beyond her years, says, “We are not meant to enter this place.” Elwood and the audience look at her and begin to realize how deep the dementia has progressed. “This task they must complete alone.” Ah, yes. That

explains it. So not only do the elves get to keep their aloof, immortal high-and-mightiness when it comes to understanding Life, The Universe and Everything, but they get to be couch potatoes while doing so! Oh Norda? You’re full of crap. Elwood buys it, but still stares at her like her head is full of lice. 55:53

Snails enters the same part of the dungeon from before, but the set designers have moved two things to make it look new. He shrieks like a little girl (’cause that’s FUNNY, you twit) when he sees Blue Lips’ armor on a rack. Jumpy, are we? He putzes around in the room, grabs a magictm bag, and examines Blue Lips’ bong. Snails has a particularly hard time tying the magictm bag to his belt, and the filmmakers eventually just cut to a new angle to solve the problem. Snails spies the map on a table and cackles with idiot glee. One step forward, and he’s being sucked into the rug, which is actually colored quicksand. I have no idea who spends all this time coloring quicksand to look like a rug for a trap, or why it’s so close to Blue Lips’ bed, or why anyone would’ve thought this was an effective anti-map stealing device. Any other competent thief would’ve seen the map and grabbed it from the north side of the room, instead of looping around from the south to awkwardly walk toward it from the bedside. Maybe Blue Lips was afraid of himself stealing it in his sleep?

You've gone completely batty.

Snails looks like he’s — and probably is — just wading in some oatmeal. Jabba the Hutt’s cackling sidekick shows up for a cameo while Blue Lips yanks Snails free of the deadly oatmeal. Blue Lips, WHY? 57:55

Sparkling fresh for his date, Ridley finds Marina’s cell and enters it decked out in Stormtrooper armor, even if he is a bit short for it. Marina lunges at him and the music swells and there’s not a dry eye in the house. Ah, amour! Marina’s looking worse for the wear, dressed in ratty tatters, but as soon as Ridley suggests they leave, she sheds the rags (they’re blankets) and pops out as freshly dressed as she was in the morning. It’s a small, but really ridiculous transition between despair and perfect happiness. Back to Snails, who’s getting thrown across the room RIGHT on top of the map, which he snaps up. ”

Just like thieves… always taking what doesn’t belong to you,” snarls Blue Lips. People, get this man a college degree! Blue Lips doesn’t seem that concerned that Snails has the map, but if I were him, I wouldn’t be in a rush to retrieve it from this annoying brat covered in gooey oatmeal either. Snails tries to fight Blue Lips, but gets his sword taken away (what a hero for the ages). Blue Lips solidly pounds him a couple times, great therapy if you can get it. In desperation, Snails takes out the tiniest boot knife in Izmir and slices Blue Lips with it, then runs away. With the lip thing, the red veins and purple ears from the head worms, and now a new facial wound, poor guy isn’t going to be winning any beauty pageants today. Ridley and his woman have their own battle — two Crimson Guards — which Ridley

He's a mean pussycat!

tackles one-on-two. That’s wise, considering they have full armor and you’re only wearing a light windbreaker, but not to worry. Marina rediscovers her ability to use magictm and unleashes a mighty… wait, no she doesn’t. She’s still acting like a pratting fool. She merely uses a torch to club a guy. Man, I miss magictm. 1:00:10

Ridley opens a door to find a highly enthusiastic Evil Minion, who tackles Ridley and goes to town. Interesting! This guy is completely manic, reminding me of a fake wrestler who’s buying a little too much into his own stock. He’s

really, really into growling. Marina keeps trying the torch-swatting thing, to no avail, so Ridley’s forced to stab his foot with a letter opener. Outside, Snails runs while Blue Lips stalks him like some delicious oatmeal treat. Snails runs himself into a dead end, which is a real dead end except that (1) it has a huge open window that would be easy to jump through or climb down and (2) plenty of other side exits to backtrack and run down before Blue Lips shows up. Instead of considering these, the master thief falls to his knees and cries “Oh no!” He gets up and walks toward Blue Lips — past three, easy to jump out of windows, I might add — and pulls his tiny knife to attack. “You CANNOT be serious,” Blue Lips says on behalf of everyone watching this. Blue Lips just WHALES on him. It’s such a beautiful sight. Punching, slamming, arm breakage… Jar-Jar needed to be on the receiving end of some of this. I know that it’s not right in the head to enjoy watching your heroes get mangled like this, or to be anything other than fearful when a hero is in dire peril, but Snails is one of the top ten most unlikable characters in movie history. I’m

Look out, she's armed!

not exaggerating. Wayans brothers cannot act or direct, and here is Exhibit A for the jury to consider. Nobody in the audience is on Snails’ side here, which robs the scene of all tension and replaces it with giddy praise. “Hey Blue Lips, why not pull his nose off!” they suggest. Ridley shows up rig

ht in time to see pulpy Snails and offer to exchange the dragon’s eye for the annoying sidekick. Snails throws him the map instead and receives a neck stabbing for good measure. At this point, there’s a serious party going on with all the viewers, some wearing togas or nothing at all, dancing to the sweet, sweet music of Snails’ demise. Ridley goes into total “NOOOOOO!” anguish mode, showing Marina that she’ll always be second fiddle in bed no matter what. Hey, good thing Elwood and Norda didn’t help out! That worked out perfectly, now I think about it! Ridley charges Blue Lips, who’s just getting warmed up in evil aerobics, and deflects his attacks, then stabs Ridley through his shoulder. Dude, this film just got about ten shades darker in the space of one scene… and I like it. Finally we’re past Renaissance Fair scripting into something a bit more palpable. Marina, who once upon a time used to be able to wield magictm whenever she felt like it, stands by as a useless cow until seeing S

nails’ bag. She takes it and hurls a mighty ball of Magictm at Blue Lips to knock him back, then creates a portal to stumble through (this time closing it behind her) and escape with her Ridley. The camera cuts to a long, loving pan of the now rotting Snails. 1:05:36

Hooboy, after that scene, what could top the exciting rise in action? Why, it’s a counsel scene — with laws, fillibusters, and passionate discussion of politics! Because that didn’t tank The Phantom Menace or anything. A loud angry guy is speaking: “The counsel has voted, you must oblige us!” Hey, are they going to make the Empress belly dance for them? I could use that soothing comfort after the harsh agony of Snails’ death. The Child Princess is now decked out in a poorly-aligned crown and huge fin-spikes coming out the back of her. I think it’s a natural response to feeling threatened or aroused by the belly dancing command. She’s defying the counsel, because she just can’t “defy her own conscience.” Bravo, young lass. Words cannot honestly describe how badly Thora Birch gives this speech, but the closest you can imagine it is if you were seeing a first time performer at a high school play give a recitation with absolutely no coaching beforehand. Wooden, dull, and highly laughable. Where’s Blue Lips when we need another character murdered? Profion comes in,

Eyebrows of Power +2!

lisping madly at her. “War benefits noone, Profion, and I oppose it,” she says. What a statesman with a second-grade understanding of politics! As these two clash with poorly-acted words, there’s a lot of scripted mumbling going on in the background (“mamber jamber mamber jamber”). “Relinquish your sctheptor!” Profion commands, using his mad eyebrows to maximum effect. She descends into name-calling,

labeling Profion an “unscrupulous charlatan.” Ooh, good one. The Empres storms out and Profion rouses the mages to his battle cry. Now, there have been a lot of bad scenes in this movie so far, but this by far was the most uncomfortable to sit through — the acting is just that bad. 1:09:32

We cut back to the heroes (minus one screeching sidekick), who are being led back to the Elf city. Which is to say, a tree with Christmas lights on it. Marina is over-impressed at the sight: “Wow!” There, the head Vulcan uses his magictm to make a poor special effect that travels through Ridley’s body. And… he’s healed. Just like that! Magictm can do ANYthing! The head Vulcan talks

about how humans use magic, but elves “are PART of it.” Yeah, you’re also part of douchebaggery, too. All creatures, he goes on, have the Force — I mean, magic — flowing through them, but the idiot humans only see the “destructive” side of it. Well, that’s why you’re living in a tree and we’re in really cool towers with indoor plumbing, dork! “I had a dream,” Ridley starts. The head Vulcan leans over, his eyebrows wisping from here to eternity, and says, “You saw a dragon being born!” Uhhhh… I think Ridley was dreaming about Marina decked out in a bikini, but okay. Dragon births work too. The head Vulcan starts pulling crap out of his rear, saying that dragons bring magic into the world and magic is cool and stuff and keeps everything in balance! He then shudders in orgasm (I’m not kidding… that’s exactly what it looks like). The dude must really like talking about magic. He must not be invited to many dinner parties, though. Stacking another piece upon the already tenuous tottering tower of plot points, the head Vulcan goes on to say that if enough dragons are killed, then magic would be destroyed and the balance upset and Justin would go home crying to momma. Who cares; if it gets rid of the elves, I’ll gladly take a hit in magic balance. 1:12:25

Green: the color of Not-So-Good.

od.

After a short nap, Ridley goes out on the treefort patio and looks at the rest of the Ewok village. Marina comes out and the audience more than half-expects him to tell her that she’s his sister and Blue Lips is their father. It’s apparently the Snails Grieving Scene, however, and even though Ridley wasn’t too upset the scene before, now he’s all weepy and mad at Marina for being a mage. “Ridley, he died for a good cause,” she says. Yes, to make this film less painful for the audience, thank you very much. Cue a lot of tears and histrionics, as both of them get overly worked up about Snails, mages, politics, and the most convoluted plot mankind has ever come up with. Then Marina comes out with this speech, which cannot be commented on, only experienced: “You are so naïve. She risks everything because she does not think the system is fair. Profion seeks to dethrone her because she believes mages and commoners should be treated as equals! She’s fighting to change what you hate so much! And that, Ridley, is what Snails died for.” I thought he died because he attacked a guy in armor instead of jumping out of a window, but what do I know? Marina butters Ridley up with some ego-boosters, which sends this thought through Ridley’s mind: “Yeah, I could be grieving Snails, but I also could be getting some, too. I’m going with a kiss now, thank you!” Cue awkward kissing scene. Dude, she’s your SISTER! 1:16:04

Because D&D is an equal opportunity plagiarist, we now have the elves giving gifts to Ridley. Namely, a big honking sword that Ridley should not be able to use, being a thief and all, but it’ll look good over his mantle at home. The elves talk in gibbleygook that Ridley has “true potential”, possibly to end this movie and let us all leave. The heroes embark on a journey of approximately three steps until they get to a “dungeon” that looks as if it’s filmed at a local park. Ridley goes in the cave, but the other three are banned by a force field that wisely knows they’ve proved of no use so far, so why start now? Elwood, peeved that he’s been given nothing to do for the past ten scenes, gets himself knocked down again by the force field for good measure. Ridley stalks through a green-lit, root-filled cavern that in no why infringes upon Dagobah copyrights. It is beautifully shot, to give the filmmaker this tiny bit of credit. Ridley falls through a hole (such a nimble thief) and discovers an intricate dragon door. Hey, out of curiosity, how’d they get these huge doors made

"By the power of Greyskull!"

down in this cave? Do dragons have subcontractors? Using the Eye of the Dragon, Ridley enters through the doors into a room filled with typical dragon treasure: gold helmets, fancy chairs, rich furs. You know, stuff dragons can’t USE. He resists the urge to steal, and discovers the red rod in the hands of a mage skeleton. In a neat twist, the skelly comes alive to talk to him: “Why do you want the Rod of Seville?” Hey, good question! If they want to keep the red rod out of Profion’s hand, why not bury the map, the eye and leave this

dungeon well enough alone? Guess he just figures that a thief is safer than any bank vault. It turns out the skeleton is Seville, who’s just hanging around long enough to pass it off to someone who’s “worthy”. Ridley is “worthy” my taut fanny. Seville warns that using the rod will unleash an evil curse, blah blah, yet refuses to tell Ridley how to break the curse: “That you must discover yourself.” Hey, skelly, you MADE the wand, you can’t be a little less cryptic here? Seville dies… some more, I guess. Paintings on the wall tell Ridley that dragons can be destructive. That’s important to know for later, class.1:23:22

Back in town, the computer effects team suddenly receives a surplus budget and goes to work with the Big Battle. The Empress, now decked out in gold chainmail that makes her look very questionable, uses her rod to send gold dragons to attack Profion and his mage possy. Profion puts all of his chicks in one basket, holing up at the top of a tall tower (taller than all of the tall towers before), and using the mages to send fireballs (?) to attack dragons (!). They miss. Profion throws up an ice shield. Although the bad guys are badly outclassed, they use a couple crossbows and suddenly have a fighting chance. One dragon dies, the skies start to boil with the disruption of precious MAGIC, and the Empress whines, “What have I done?” I’ll tell you what: you’ve hired a really lousy talent agent. 1:24:53

Ridley exits the cave, and upon seeing that his companions are mysteriously absent, runs and shouts all willy-nilly, “I’ve found the rod!” Quick question: who out there doesn’t think he’s going to turn a corner around a bush and discover Blue Lips holding everyone hostage? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I like seeing that while it only takes two Crimson Guard to hold Norda, Elwood’s struggling with FIVE guys on him. Go, ‘Woody! Blue Lips gives Marina the equivalent of a shaving nick, which strikes Ridley with fear. Blue Lips, who

I think he pees himself a bit here.

perhaps should see a dermatologist at this point, gets the rod in exchange for… nothing! Absolutely nothing! Stupid! You’re so stupid! “You said you’d let them go!” Ridley whines. Ten points to anyone for Blue Lips’ response: “I lied.” He orders them dead, but Norda quickly stabs her two guards, Elwood throws off his five, and much mayhem ensues. Hey Norda, why didn’t you break out the moves when you were first captured? You guys just waiting for a dramatic moment? Ripley slashes with his magictm sword, which sounds not unlike a lightsaber. Elwood uses his huge axe as more of mace, to bash, than for its proper function. Just as well, the blade looks pretty blunt. Meanwhile, Blue Lips calmly creates a portal (he can do that now?) and steps through it — Ridley follows right before it closes. Neat portal effects, by the way. 1:27:30

Blue Lips appears at Profion’s tower (Ridley’s nowhere to be seen) and exchanges the rod for a little head worm extermination. The two go up to the roof, now being chased by a newly appeared Ridley. Cut to the “What have I done?” Empress who’s now RIDING a gold dragon for good measure. I guess she got over her worry of using dragons quickly, hm? The gold dragons keep firing on the tower, windows keep exploding, but none of it ends up looking worse for the wear. Profion then uses his nifty new wand to summon the red dragons, which makes him all kinds of happy and gives him plenty of excuses to ham it up. “COME TO MEEEEEEE!” Ridley and Blue Lips face off, Ridley with his blue lightsaber and Blue Lips with his red one. Gotta love glowy effects. The CGI team goes into overload for the dragon battle, which half-looks neat and half-looks completely fake. Ridley and Blue Lips hack it out for a while, which is not a half-bad sword fight, as long as you overlook the Star Wars rip-off. Blue Lips has a great fighting intensity in this film, which is sadly not matched by acting ability. Using some fancy thief moves, Ridley stabs him in the back, then pushes him over the ledge and down 246 stories to his doom. Go Ridley. Profion’s having the time of his life: “You can run, your ladyship, but you can never run far enough!”

Snails lives!

Guess he was on track in high school. “LET THE BLOOD DRAIN FROM

THE SKYYYYYY!” he cries, waving his hands and getting really, really into it. This is about the most hilarious bit of acting I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen all of Sinbad’s material. I had to go back and watch that line three times. Ridley charges into him and knocks him down, but then considerately backs off to let Profion get up and ready his magictm. Profion threatens him with “new kinds of pain.” Like having to watch this movie. Profion uses his staff to knock Ridley’s sword away, then throws out a pop culture pun: “Not so talented, eh, Mr. Ridley?” Profion gets ready to kill him — hey, what about the new kinds of pain? I wanna see those! Suddenly, for no logical reason, Marina, Elwood and Norda appear to get the snot magickedtm out of them by Profion. Ridley grabs the red rod and starts to control the dragons, but then realizes that the magic and the balance and the logic of the plot are being thrown out of whack. He destroys the rod (no! my rod!), the Empress shows up to get all pouty-like and says, “The battle is over!” Never missing an opportunity to use echo effects in his speech, Profion retorts, “The battle may be, but not… THE WARRRRRRRRR!” A bad CGI creature attacks the Empress, and noone helps (all of the good guys are still in “crouching down” mode, which is seen in lots of movies where they’re apparently too winded to resume the fight, but obviously they’ll be able to get back up when the script calls for it). She uses her rod (yes! her rod!) to call a gold dragon to swallow Profion. Goodie. The Empress then thanks… Elwood? For what, exactly? His fashionable beard? And just like that, good has prevailed. 1:37:20

We get a horrible voice-over by the Empress declaring all people “equal.” Also, “sexy as a fox.” The begin a celebration that we’re not invited to; no, we have to go with Ridley and Co. to a graveyard and talk to Snails’ grave. “You hear that buddy?” Ridley asks. “That’s for you.” Yeah, because I’m sure everyone has a clue who Snails even is. Ridley talks more about how Snails made a difference. Again, HOW? He DIED. For NOTHING. For, as far as I can tell, being a BAD THIEF. Marina looks kind of happy during all of this… she knows with Snails gone, she has no lip-locking competition. Ridley puts the Eye of the Dragon on Snails’ grave and then starts to head off to his “knighting ceremony.” But what’s this? Magictm causes the wind to whip up, and Snails’ name to melt off his stone marker and into the now-glowing Eye. “Do not question your gift,” Norda says. “Your friend awaits you.” WHAT THE HECK? Snails is coming back to life? Shoot us all, right now. And yes, it gets better. They put their hands on the stone, all four of them, and they all turn into little red comets that streak away. Then, without explanation what THAT means, the film ends. Uplifting, yes. Nauseating, yes. Senseless, yes. Thank you and good night! 1:41:03

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