Monday, June 30, 2008

Dragonlance: The Disappointing Movie

Okay, picture this. A bunch of friends sitting around a table getting stoned, a scene similar to "That 70's Show", only instead of teenagers they’re graduates of the dot com age, post-nerd gamers.

They’re moaning over the state of their favorite RPGs and how, though the MMORPG’s are way cool, they lack the story and life of the old D&D games they played in high school and college. Of course, conversation moves onto the books these games spawned, and the games coming from said books.

Invariably,rhe first on the list is Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman and all the books that had followed which most of the guys have read, though many have lost touch after 15 or so. You know, family, commitments, time flushed down the crapper playing Warcaft. Then one guy takes a long pull from his bong and is struck with an epiphany.

Hey! Let’s make a movie out of the book! We got us some bucks lying around, and we know some guys in the movie industry. . .

As most ideas borne of drug-infused euphoria go, the idea snowballs into a real possibility, and the wheels of creativity grind forward.

Our group of friends become a Fellowship and the movie is their quest. Plans are made like character sheets, remade, put on paper and scrapped for better ideas.

Reality, the ugly immortal demon rears its head and roars, “Finances! We can never afford to get this done live-action.”

“No problem,” say our intrepid heroes. “Animation has come a long way since we were kids, maybe even some CGI stuff. That’s gotta be pretty cheap to do by now,” and they roll their dice. Hickman and Weiss are onboard and promoting madly. Wizards of the Coast, who now own the rights to anything TSR, give their okay. Name stars like Kieffer Sutherland and Lucy Lawless have signed on to do voice work.

Everything is coming together like a gamer’s wet dream.

Then Reality, that ancient beast of dream killers, rolls double 20’s and everything goes to hell.

This is just a possible scenario of what happened.

The only good thing I can say about this disaster is it kept fairly true to the original story, and the music was well done. Beyond that, the quality and voice-work was equal to He-Man and its ilk. Oh, there were attempts at CGI quality work, but the producer’s must have blown the budget to get the dragon fire right in the opening credits, about the only thing that made me go, ooh.

I got the impression the movie lost focus and direction. The boys around the table wanted and promised something they didn’t have the cash to deliver. Somewhere down the line some studio exec got hold of the project and thought direct to DVD cash grab, and budgeted accordingly. Everything after that was just one disappointment after another.

The Fellowship had broken.

Direction of the voice-acting, animation, over all direction, I’ve seen cheap Sunday afternoon Christmas specials with more production values.

As for the general lack of purpose, here is an example. Tanis Half-Elven and Flint Fireforge are confronted by goblins and a fight ensues. Very tame for the most part, with hints of violence and action sequences that made me long for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, until a goblin gets a hatchet to the chest. No blood, of course. Keep it clean for the kiddies.

In another scene Caramon notices how Tika the barmaid he had known since they were children, has filled out, i.e.: checking out jiggling boobs and the junk in the trunk.

Evidently, the kiddies have left the room.

Another tame fight scene, yet another scene depicting a man with a severed arm, bloody stump and all.


The entire movie seemed to follow this conflicting philosophy. It’s a cartoon, so kids will watch it, no, wait it’s an animated movie for adults, lets put some death and sex in it. No, wait. ..

With talk of making a trilogy, I so wanted this movie to work. In truth, I only ever read the first book of the series, and only because I heard through Tracy Hickman’s podcast that it was becoming an animated feature. Listening to the excitement in his voice gave me high hopes. Mostly, because I’ve always felt that many a fine fantasy book, too involved for live-action, might come to life through animation.

Now, I realize that too, is just a fantasy.

Hey, remember those old Bakshi cartoons like Lord of the Rings? Or Wizards? Or Heavy Metal? Hey! Someone should make books out of them. Yeah, that would be so cool. Pass me that doob.

Monday, June 23, 2008

June Update

Hello one and all. Just letting you know I'm still alive. God knows you must be losing sleep over not hearing from me.

Okay, enough of the self-deprecating humor I'm famous for. Here's what's happening. Momentous day today. Mark it on your calenders. Today I've finished rewriting Chapter 18 of the BIG BOOK. What's the big deal? Well, that's the half-way point. Roughly -- (does quick calculation) -- 44,000 words of pure crap, er, gold! Woohoo!

June 27 is my birthday, making me roughly -- (does quick calculation) 44,000 words old!

What a coincidence!

That's about it. Avarice is still out in Darwin's Evolutions. Give it a read.