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Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight DVD Review

Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

January 24, 2008

Director: Will Meugniot,
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Lucy Lawless, Michael Rosenbaum, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jason Marsden, Rino Romano, Marc Worden, Phil LaMarr, Fred Tatasciore,

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DVD Review

Dragonlance got its start in the early to mid-1980s as part of the very popular TSR Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. It was successful enough to spawn a trilogy of novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the first of which, Dragons of Autumn Twilight (2008), has been made into an animated film. The Dragonlance books, while fairly well-written, always came across as a pale imitation of The Lord of the Rings novels, or sub par Terry Brooks. I can remember reading them at an impressionable age, just getting into RPGs and being drawn in by the vivid imagery in these books. Sadly, the atmosphere that they generated in my mind is gone in this animated adaptation.

The opening credits sequence plays over cheesy computer animation, a sign that did not bode well for the rest of the film as the filmmakers clumsily tried to mix CGI with 2D animation. After 300 years of an uneasy peace, the world of Krynn has been plunged into darkness as the evil goddess Takhisis and her army of dragons attempt to take over. However, a resourceful group of adventurers led by Tanis Half-Elven (Rosenbaum), a tough dwarf named Flint Fireforge (Tatasciore), an aspiring knight, Sturm Brightblade (Worden), thief Tasslehoff Burrfoot (Marsden), swordsman Caramon Majere (Romano), and his brother Raistlin (Sutherland), a powerful wizard. They are joined by a cleric named Goldmoon (Lawless), who wields a staff with magical healing properties, and her companion, Riverwind (LaMarr), a nomadic barbarian.

The film suffers from atrocious miscasting of the voices for the various characters with the exception of Kiefer Sutherland as Raistlin. It is no easy task having fantasy-speak not sound laughably awkward and this cast struggles with it. It doesn’t help that these words look better on paper and sound better in the reader’s head and this is certainly the case with this adaptation. All the shades of grey and subtle sides to the characters that were developed in the novel are gone so that we are left with a simple tale of good vs. evil.

The animation is too sterile and lacks any kind of atmosphere. It is also devoid of the grittiness needed and is poorly rendered at times. Do yourself a favour and avoid this film. Read the book instead.

Special Features:

“Original Test Animation” features rough sketches before they were fully animated with colour, background details, etc.

Also included are “Initial Character Designs,” a montage of artwork for various characters from the film.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 25%

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