I remember when I loved watching movies by Ray Harryhausen and the fantasy realms that he created with his stop-motion miniatures. I used to walk down the fantasy aisle at my local video store hoping to find the next great fantasy epic.
Back before The Lord of the Rings changed the way we saw fantasy films, it was hard finding really decent ones.
The Harryhausen’s movies, Dragonslayer, Conan the Barbarian, Willow and The Princess Bride were some of the better ones.
The next level you probably had Krull, Excalibur, Beastmaster, and Sword & the Sorcerer.
Then you had really bad movies like Ator: The Flying Eagle, Dungeons & Dragons, Deathstalker, Dungeonmaster and Barbarian Queen. Because Ator, Deathstalker, Barbarian Queen were made for peanuts and made money strictly on video they gave birth to an onslaught of even worse sequels.
And I watched every one of them in college.
“Dungeons & Dragons 2” is only a sequel to the colossal bomb that was the original by the reappearance of actor Bruce Payne in the villain role. (However his is minus his blue lower lip this time)
This is yet another quest film where a knight (Mark Dymond) assembles a rather rugged party to stop Payne’s evil wizard and slay a giant black dragon.
This movie is on quite a low budget so you have to forgive some things when watching a B-film such as this. Yes the acting can be all over the place, the effects a little wonky and there can be giant plotholes.
The acting is standard for a basic B-film but really the director needed to get Bruce Payne to tone it down. When Payne gets going he can be so over-the-top that you wanna strangle the man. And on many occasions he ruins the film doing just that. Dymond is pretty solid as Sir Berek and the film’s lead hero.
The wardrobe and set pieces are pretty well put together. They could be compared to say “Legend of the Seeker” or “Hercules” type design. You know, adequate to above average. Roy Marsden is also quite good as the leader of the Council of Mages.
There are some really horrible makeup jobs like the orcs and goblins. The dragon CGI is extremely amateur.
But there is a lot of be grateful here. The filmmakers obviously like fantasy and take it very seriously because the story, character development and sacrifices made in the film really hold it together. I especially liked that the party assembled for the quest were more like the “Dirty Dozen” and only 2 come out unscathed.
It’s better than the first film because of the filmmakers passion for the subject matter. It is just too bad that this film didn’t have the budget of the horrid original.
2.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer