About eight years after Wrath of the Dragon God, we got yet another sequel. It was generally considered to be not-as-good as the second film (and I mostly agree), though was even more widely considered to still be better than the first. In the tradition of Wrath, this is an actual D&D movie that uses the lore from the game, though it mixes things up a bit more with a couple of out-of-the-way creatures and plots. It’s also a considerably darker film, tossing in a few horror elements that neither of the first movies had in any amount. Anyway, without further ado, let’s dig into Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness. Our story begins with a disturbingly long opening narrative with some motion-comic style storybook action to keep something on the actual screen. This details the legends of the Book of Vile Darkness… like, all of them. We get to know all about the guy who made it, how it was made, who ended up getting it, what they did with it, how they ended up losing it, yet preserved it, and who got it after that, and where it is now. This opening lasts a little over five minutes, which doesn’t sound that long until you wake up towards the end of it, half-drowning in a pool of your own saliva. We’re then introduced to the man who is, unfortunately, the film’s protagonist: Grayson. Everyone seems to think he’s a paladin, but I’m not convinced. More importantly, he is good-looking to the point of looking ridiculous, with his soft, treated, feathery locks, evenly-trimmed man-stubbles, and obviously-tweezed eyebrows. I don’t think it’s necessary to point out that in the era this movie is presented to take place in, that sort of grooming equipment would most likely not be available. Also noteworthy is that he’s a bit of an entitled, whiny, fickle little bitch. Anyway, he’s inducted into some clan of sacred guardians, and then holy balls look, lightning bolts and stuff, things are happening; cool!! The graphics in this film are better than the last two, proving that time matters a great deal more than budget (this uses the same budget Wrath got eight years prior), and the magic actually looks really cool. Again, the armor and weapons at least actually look real, setting it one firm step ahead of the first movie. When Obi-Wan Keno– I mean, the totally random unknown mentor guy dies, along with all the other sacred guardian-people, Captain Featheryhair (his beauty now marred by a cherry-juice stain on the side of his face) goes to get a hooker– or, rather, talk to one. He asks her about the lightning-tossing “barbarians” (?) and blah blah blah blah boring let’s move on to the good stuff. We get a completely gratuitous scene where Mr. Poutylips goes into a shop and buys up some magical items that gamers will instantly recognize (Ring of Force, Bag of Holding, etc.), and there’s no way I’m gonna fault it for that (especially since every single thing he gets ends up being a Chekhov’s Gun). Even if it was clumsily-handled it got me to squee a little bit, and anything worth squeeing about deserves a pass. It’s when he gets to a bar that things start getting awesome, as we’re introduced to the rest of BoVD‘s actual cast (who are playing Three-Dragon Ante, a fictional card game that you can actually get in most bookstores). These new characters are hilariously evil (they sit around randomly threatening each other to prove that this is so) and take Sir Cuddlybeans into their little gang of evil treasure-hunters when he proves that he’s totally ebil as well by killing some random dude. All in all the team is: Grayson, AKA Little Lord Fluffypants. A bald, tattooed assassin guy, who wears black and has spikes and likes to threaten to backstab people, therefore making his impending backstabs far less likely as everyone has full warning of them. A “vermin lord” who does random gross stuff seemingly just to prove he can, looks cool, has a cool voice, and has literally all the good lines. Vimak, a barbarian guy (?) with silver skin and oft-smudged black tattoos/makeup/something. While he’s gruff and boisterous he actually seems to be an adequate guy, probably got voted as “most likely to not kill you” when he went to Evil School. Later on, it’s mentioned that he’s a Goliath, which, now that I think about it, is the thing he probably looks most like. I’ll let it slide. Aaand Akordia, AKA Miss Hottie McHotAwesome, whose never explicitly states what she is or does, though she uses both a sword and weird energy bolts, and can heal. My guess is that she’s some sort of bizarre multiclassed character, but considering her performance in most fights I’d say she isn’t very well-optimized. Like everyone else, she wears all black and has tattoos, but ups the ante (the Three-Dragon Ante?) by also having facial piercings and leaving her thighs completely exposed, for which I’m sure everyone is very grateful. Anyway, they set off on their quest to seek treasure and whatnot, but get distracted by an actually-pretty-cool-looking dragon, and decide to go teach it a lesson and take all of its stuff (for those wondering what stuff they’d plan to take: in this world, dragons are not mindless beasts but are, in fact, well known for having lots of stuff). They plan to catch it unawares but totally fail, and instead have to fight the dragon in full-on combat, resulting in an eventual victory and bonus points for Captain Manscape, who does adequately against it. Since he is such a good guy and totally only pretending to be evil, he tricks the Evil Gang of Bad-Wrong-Fun into rescuing some prisoners and taking them home, so that all of them can “pretend” to be heroes. They then enjoy the spoils of victory with a night out on the town. Of special note is that this movie contains quite a bit of nudity (though it’s snugly contained in one area of the film), so it seems like somewhere along the line some genius decided that D&D probably wasn’t as much for kids as they thought it was before. Worth pointing out is that, after the twenty-minute mark, absolutely nothing has to do with the storyline or plot, it’s just Goody Two-Brows trying to infiltrate and fit in with the bad guys to stay incognito and not get hunted down and killed. Admittedly, however, this part is actually pretty fun to watch. The characters are colorful and all have distinct voices (specifically the vermin lord, who is absolutely fantastic). Their dynamics and interactions are really enjoyable, the action’s adequate, and as mentioned before, all of the special effects are remarkably well-done and decently thought out for a movie of this budget. It’s a labor of love, and it shows. Where was I? Right, so they’re enjoying a night on the town (a few of them really enjoying it), but the bald assassin guy is unreasonably kill-thirsty and apparently can’t spend a single night without murder and plunder (the vermin lord seems to be addicted to being evil as well, but at least he can keep his shenanigans on the down-low), and he blows their cover by being such a sloppy assassin he can’t even hide a body, which leads to a confrontation between the party and the town they’re staying in. The situation gets more-or-less diffused by Grayson, only for the vermin lord, in his unquenchable awfulness, to blow a guy up for kicks and set off a massive battle royale. Together, the four baddies manage to kill everyone in the entire town (pretty impressive) while Mr. Goodbar sneaks the children out through the sewers and abandons them in the forest (how… noble?). As the group sets back out, spending one last night together before deciding to go their separate ways, we get a very weird and somewhat pointless scene where Jolly McNicefella and the silver barbarian dude have a long conversation, and we get to hear the latter’s backstory and future plans. He’s a little misguided and certainly more than a little violent, but it seems like he’s actually a really decent guy with some compelling personal motivations. After they bond, the knight then kills him with poison, stuffs his entire body into a Bag of Holding, and dumps it into the lake. The assassin is killed by the vermin lord the next day in a somewhat random scene, and I’m glad to be rid of him. He was neither compelling nor likeable. Moving on. So the group is now thinned out to the feathery-haired knight, the vermin lord, and the witch (they call her a witch, I’ll just go with it), and we are now treated to the infamous zombie-girl scene (and by “infamous,” I do actually mean “the scene people who’ve seen this inevitably bring up”). Now, I’m relatively hardened towards horror movies, and given that this is primarily a somewhat dark fantasy flick, it’s pretty impressive that this scene had me writhing in my seat and screaming like a small child. The group encounters an “undead child” and let me just tell you that AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH AHHHH AHHH AHHHH AHHHHHHHHOHMYGOD GETITAWAYGETITAWAY AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Not. Even. Exaggerating. Even watching this the second time around, knowing what was coming, seeing her move and hearing that voice sends chills through my whole body and makes me want to crawl inside my own appendix and just lay there and sob for the rest of my life. She “suckles” on negative energy (and they mean this literally so don’t eat before you watch this) and um… yeah that’s… I had something else to say here, but I forgot it. Oh, right, yes, this gives the group a chance to prove how evil they are. The vermin lord goes first and his heart is apparently quite free of decency, because if it wasn’t the girl would react to it. The knight goes second and, surprisingly, passes, foreshadowed by his murder of the barbarian. The witch, in a startling turn of events, fails, as her heart has love in it (for the knight guy, of course, he’s the protagonist after all). This was a bad move, as apparently failing the test means a weird (yet pretty cool) evil spectral guardian guy shows up and whips your ass, which is exactly what proceeds to happen. The vermin lord gets taken out with a cheap shot but they do manage to defeat it, and move on to their big quest, which has always been a little bit ill-defined. We know that the knight wants to find his father, and there’s some stuff with a magical horn, and it all involves going to some, uh, place. So they’re headed there. Besides a little creepiness here and there and some action, the finale is really pretty, um, underwhelming. He finds his dad, his romance with the witch fizzles anticlimactically, and he kinda admits that the whole endeavor has made him less than the nicest guy ever. There is a pretty neat shot of the exterior of the building (which somehow became in the clouds or… another plane… or something, but whatever it is, it looks cool). The knight’s dad pretty much throws the book at him for being such a tool all this time, and it turns out that the big bad villain (who we only see briefly until the very end, thus negating any real sense of fear or awe we should have of him) is attempting to re-assemble the Book of Vile Darkness. There’s one last big battle (also, surprise, the vermin lord’s still alive!) and Grayson has to struggle a bit with his own morality, eventually deciding that he’s good (we’ll say he’s Chaotic Good). The bad guy is thwarted, Akordia has a bit of a Heel Face Turn of her own, and an ill-defined plot device saves the day. The good guys live, the witch goes about her merry way, and the credits roll without any sort of real wrap-up, which is probably for the best because, honestly, who cares. So, was it worth watching? Yeah, it was worth watching. Was it as good as the second movie? Ahhh, it depends on what you’re into. While this movie isn’t as well-presented and clean-cut as Wrath, it has better effects, a darker style, and enough personality and fun scenes to hold its own as a film. I won’t say it was outright better or worse, because I liked them both about the same. While BoVD had a few more cool moments, it also had a few more boring/annoying moments. Oh, and if you have any pre-existing phobias that involve small children or the undead, be very aware that you’ll probably experience nightmares for an unspecified amount of time ranging from several years to the rest of your life. At least we can all agree that it was better than the first movie. Dungeons & D-Listers: D&D: The Book of Vile Darkness 3.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Steven Saunders Great write up, Alex! Absolutely loved it. Kelvin Green This is not a good film but nowhere near as terrible as the first one, and in a couple of places is almost good. My favourite thing about it is how it doesn’t have an ending; rather it just stops, as if they ran out of ideas or money or both.