Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight Review

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If you grew up in the 1980s you’ve probably enjoyed rolling a 20 sided die in a heated game of “Dungeons and Dragons.”  TSR, the game’s publisher, released a novel  as a tie in for its first two “Dragonlance” adventure novels.  The novel, penned by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, was called Dragons of Autumn Twilight.  It remains a huge fan favorite and a marked commercial success for TSR.  Since its release release in 1984, fans have clamored for and speculated endlessly about a film adaptation of the story.

Two years after being adapted as a comic, “Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight” was released as a direct to DVD animated feature in 2008.  Fans were initially disappointed that a live action adaptation was not being made in the wake of Peter Jackson’s incredible success with the “Lords of the Rings” trilogy.  When Paramount Pictures announced that Keifer Sutherland and Lucy Lawless had committed to the project fan interest surged and hopes soared.

Alas not even Jack Bauer or Xena could save this movie.  Aside from a pure nostalgia rush (I remember playing the module) this animated adaptation of a fun book is terrible. A great cast was assembled but the writing is so bad none of the actors get much opportunity to perform.  The dialog is stiff and forced at best and completely camp at worst.  Visually the animation looks dated and makes the movie feel like a satire of a Saturday morning cartoon from the 80’s. The flat looking characters engaging in graphic on screen violence makes the whole thing feeling a D&D version of “Sealab 2021”. An comfortably long scene of Tika’s bouncing jumblies further enhances the satire vibe.

Do yourself a favor, if you are tempted to view “Dragons of Autumn Twilight” in the hopes of recapturing some old D&D goodness, just go find your old copy of the book. Then you won’t be disappointed.