With the recent trailer announcing the next Honor among thieves, fans of Dungeons and Dragons are on the edge of their seats waiting to see the world of gaming brought to the big screen in a grand and lavish production. However, since the movie won’t be released until March 3, 2023, many gamers and DMs might find themselves wanting something to scratch that movie itch.
Many fantasy films have been inspired by the iconic RPG, and many films have undoubtedly inspired a plethora of campaigns, but sometimes gamers just want that traditional escape into the mystical realms of wizards and warriors. Fortunately, J&D fans don’t have to look too far to find their next adventure.
Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
honor among thieves is not the first J&D movie, even though it might be the most polished adaptation. the original Dungeons & Dragons The film may not have been the most successful attempt, but it captured a certain lighthearted nature that comes with every session around the table.
It’s a film that should never be taken too seriously, as with most campaigns, and even those new to the game will find something to enjoy. It has its red dragons, spectators, elves, and an incredibly awkward performance from Jeremy Irons as the dark wizard, Profion.
Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2003)
Wrath of the Dragon God is a very loose sequel to the previous film, and it’s not exactly cut from the same cloth as the somewhat silly epic of swords and sorcery from the 2000 production. Profion, it more than makes up for the fan service for longtime DMs and players.
There’s nothing revolutionary about the plot, a group of adventurers are called upon to steal a dragon orb from an evil lich, but there are several nods and references to items seen in the game. movie that seasoned fans will enjoy, as long as they don’t expect anything particularly groundbreaking.
Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (2008)
Of all the words from tongue to pen, perhaps the saddest are. Based on the iconic Dragonlance series, this adaptation of Autumn Twilight Dragons had all the right elements for a quintessential Dungeons & Dragons film. Yet its clunky animation, pacing, and ridiculous CGI monsters ultimately led to its downfall.
With a stellar voice cast that included legendary artists like Kiefer Southerland, Lucy Lawless and Jason Marsden playing beloved characters from the books, a plot concerning gods, dragons, and evil warlords, and several elements seen across many J&D campaigns, he should have been treated with more care. Even so, fans of the books and the game won’t want to turn it down.
Eye Of The Beholder: The Art Of Dungeons And Dragons (2019)
As strange as it may seem to consider a documentary for a J&D viewing party, eye of the beholder grants players and viewers some appreciation for the artwork that brought creatures and characters to life in guides and monster manuals. Exploring the story and design of the game as well as its artwork is an absolutely fascinating adventure, especially for fans who are very fond of the story parts of their games.
The documentary explores the early days of gaming, the design of creatures like Beholders and Dragonborn, and even the Dragonlance series. In other words, it is an informative slice of J&D fan service that will satisfy a large audience of dedicated gamers.
The Black Cauldron (1985)
Maybe it was Disney trying to do what was popular in the 80s, maybe it cost them almost their entire animation studio, and maybe it’s the black sheep of their long filmography, but The black cauldron is a dark fantasy film that has to be seen to be believed. Inspired by the Prydain series from Lloyd Alexander, the film has all the elements of a traditional swords and sorcery tale that any fantasy fan would expect.
The movie’s notoriety is what will pique the most interest from viewers, but as it features literal dungeons, dragons, and a band of adventurers trying to stop a great evil, it should cover all the bases for fans of the traditional quest campaign. It’s definitely a film that deserves more attention than it first received.
The Green Knight (2021)
Gamers who want something less fancy and more grounded and gritty wouldn’t be remiss to want to watch The Green Knight. Like many fantasy films about quests and heroism, the arthouse film draws its influence from classic and romanticized epics from the time of Arthurian legends, and it delivers a truly elegant and mystifying tale.
Adapting a centuries-old story can’t be easy, but the way the Green Knight dives headfirst into the weirder side of medieval fantasy is absolutely wondrous. Players who have spent campaigns in the Underdark or enjoy the weird and surreal side of the genre will eat this epic with a spoonful.
To say that other fantasy games didn’t at least take inspiration from J&D and its parameters, Warcraft included, would be wrong. However, how the film adaptation of the acclaimed 2016 RPG comes with a grand epic that pits orcs against humans in a war for control of kingdoms and mystical forces.
Although it will more than likely appeal to fans of the Warcraft series that fans of D&D, no fantasy fan worthy of their XP points can deny the awe-inspiring scale and jaw-dropping world of orcs, elves, magical beings, and massive battles. It’s a fantastic standard fare that goes above and beyond in the atmosphere department.
The Lord of the Rings (1973)
Peter Jackson’s version may be the benchmark for fantasy cinema, but for those J&D fans looking for that over-the-top, elaborate, eccentric fantasy that was so popular in the 70s and 80s, Ralph Bakshi’s adaptation of Tolkien’s epic is more than qualified for the job. From the animation and character design to the dialogue and straight-to-text deliveries, it’s practically a must-watch for anyone interested in the genre.
Bakshi has had his hand in the fantasy genre many times, but he was the first to bring The Lord of the Rings on the big screen. Although fans wanted a conclusion to its adaptation, the film was a lively love letter to both the works of Tolkien and the classic elements of the fantasy genre as a whole.
Fire and Ice (1983)
As mentioned earlier, Bakshi did not stop with The Lord of the Rings but upped the ante by collaborating with legendary fantasy artist, Frank Frazetta. Frazetta was known for his works in comics and literary works like Conan the Barbarian and Merchant of Death, and his partnership with Ralph Bakshi came in the form of Fire and ice.
The film is the animated definition of over-the-top fantasy, as viewers will be exposed to overly muscular swordsmen, scantily clad princesses, and dark wizards with armies of demons, to name a few. The film is like a comic book brought to life, and the rotoscoping techniques give it a more vibrant style as a war between two kingdoms is fought with passion.
The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014)
While not the most accurate adaptation, Jackson’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings is bewitching. Bringing together all the elements that have made the series so beloved by millions for years for one more adventure was beyond a brilliant move on Jackson’s part.
The Lord of the Rings perhaps the most famous, but The Hobbit has a lot more of the atmosphere associated with a typical night in J&D. A group of adventurers are summoned in the dark of night, and a wizard entrusts them with a quest for gold and glory, and battles with goblins, orcs and dragons are part of the journey of this enchanting trilogy.
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