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'Dungeons & Dragons': No Dice

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 8, 2000


    'Dungeons & Dragons' Justin Whalen, Marlon Wayans and Zoe MacLellan in "Dungeons & Dragons."
(Francis Delia/New Line Cinema)
Once upon a time in a land not so far away, a callow youth (Courtney Solomon) had a dream. So he saved his pennies and at the tender age of 20, secured the film rights to "Dungeons & Dragons," and thence pursued his Holy Grail: a big-screen version of the much-loved neo-medieval role-playing game.

For 10 long years he wandered in the Holly Wood in search of the all-important Green Light, until one day he chanced upon the Lord of High Concepts (Sir Joel of the Silver). A meeting was taken and thence, "a Courtney Solomon film" was born.

Talented actors signed on for big paychecks: Oscar winner Jeremy Irons, "American Beauty's" Thora Birch, jokester Marlon Wayans and some Shakespearean guy you never heard of. But now, so close to his dream, the novice filmmaker refused to allow his vision to pass into the hands of those more experienced, and he himself assumed the director's chair.

Some $43 million later, he had his tale of the fair Empress of Izmer (wooden Birch), whose rule is threatened by an evil mage, or magician (absurd, scenery-gnawing, career-sinking Irons). With the help of a dwarf, an elf, an apprentice mage (bland Zoe McLellan) and two thieves (Uncle Tomming Wayans and has-been in the making Justin Whalin), disaster was averted . . . in Izmer.

Alas, the same can not be said of the tale itself, which stinketh like the breath of a dyspeptic dragon. But there will be a happy ending: America's game players will cough up their allowances, Silver's coffers will fill with gold, and Solomon will prepare to direct a sequel.

"Dungeons & Dragons" (100 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for cartoonish mayhem.


Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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