Some moments in your life can really help to make you feel validated in who you are as a person, sometimes even important. While these moments are to be cherished, sometimes they aren’t the gifts they seem to be. While it isn’t the first time, I have to admit I was pretty excited at the opportunity to watch Dudes and Dragons. It’s Kickstarter-backed and fits my niche, so getting to check it out as a critic definitely gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. While fantasy parody films can be pretty hit or miss, they’re rarely outright boring, so I honestly had no real expectations for how this was going to turn out. I enjoyed the hell out of Kung Fury and figured, if I was lucky, this might be of a similar level of quality. It wasn’t. Of course, comparing anything to Kung Fury is admittedly pretty unfair, so let’s take a look at Dudes and Dragons by its own merits. While it certainly isn’t perfect, by any means, it has a simple, tidy story, keeping its eye on comedy, and– Fuck, I can’t keep this up, guys. This movie’s horrible. And I really don’t wanna be that guy that just makes fun of everything I see, I really don’t, and I try not to be and I’m trying to be positive. It’s really not my fault that Dudes and Dragons is the way it is. I put that blame squarely on the shoulders of Dudes and Dragons. The movie starts off with a pre-title protagonist fakeout, featuring an interesting and on-point example of the Lawful Evil hero that I was mildly excited to see come to fruition, before we’re launched into the actual film… and our protagonist. Camilan is an under-dressed, smooth-skinned, blond-locked flake who happens to be the least likeable character I’ve encountered since Wallace from Tusk, which really says a lot. Ladies and gentlemen, our actual hero. Now, let me lead off by saying this movie has moments of genuine humor. There were multiple lines, even actual real jokes, that made me laugh. Usually internally. But once even out loud! That’s an accomplishment, at least, and should be appreciated for what it is. James Marsters (playing the villain, “Lord” Tensley, whose menace level resides comfortably between Jeremy Irons in Dungeons and Dragons and Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns) steals the majority of these moments with his hammy, half-assed awkwardness, riding on his natural charm to do the best with what he’s given. There are a good six-to-eight moments throughout this film’s runtime where the comedy actually hits home, and… you know what? Props there. It beats out Hot Pursuit and anything Adam Sandler’s put out in the past decade, which has to count for something. Then we get the rest of the humor and “jokes” within. Around 15% of this is just baseless non-jokes, and the other 85% is pop culture references. So. Many. Pop culture references. This is the dominating feature of the entire film, overriding the parodically simple plotline and the not-quite-wooden (papier Mache? let’s go with papier Mache) acting. Don’t expect any subtle, clever references here though, or anything you can pat yourself on the back for getting. By my count (I may have missed a couple in the whirlwind) we’re looking at somewhere in the vicinity of: A 2003 Hulk reference. A Superman Returns reference. A Green Lantern reference. A Matrix reference. A Kung Fu Hustle reference (huh). 2-3 The Princess Bride references. 3 300 references. 6+ Star Wars references (all original trilogy, no prequels, so at least there’s something to be said for their taste) And about eight billion Lord of the Rings references. Preheat the oven to 375, grease a large pan, and mix ingredients well in a medium-sized bowl until they start to bubble menacingly without application of heat. Any unpleasant odor is probably coming from Shokdor, the less useless of the film’s two useless sidekicks (just kidding Shokdor, you know I love you, stay strong bro). The point here? Cutting and splicing the best parts of a dozen different blockbusters does not, in itself, make a good movie. Shocking, perhaps, but true, now proven by the valiant efforts of Dudes and Dragons. Pointlessly inaccurate poster. The storyline, as I’ve mentioned, is pretty pale, featuring the standard Villain/Damsel/McGuffin pattern of many fantasy movies and almost all fantasy satires. Whether or not it was intentional I don’t feel like exerting the effort to guess. As far as I’m concerned, this wasn’t supposed to hold up as an actual film, merely as a parody. Of Lord of the Rings. Oh yeah, this movie should have been called Lord of the Dudes, or maybe Dude of the Rings (that sounds better now that I think about it, should have led with that). This really has nothing to do with Dungeons and Dragons, yet everything to do with the our beloved LotR, specifically the films, with musical segments that border on copyright-infringing and entire scenes lifted from the movies (the formation of the fellowship and the doling out of different gifts spring to mind). The more-useless of the two sidekicks is even named Samton, and… yeah, he’s a shameless copy of Samwise, even regurgitating a few of his lines whenever he gets the opportunity to do so. Oh, and an entire plot point (the forbidden human/elf love between Camilan and his lady-friend, Larec). I’m really not trying to be snobby here. I realize the go-to excuse to make fun of just about any movie is to call it “derivative,” but this one really has very little essence of its own besides blatant, mindless knock-offs and shout-outs to easy targets that everyone will get. Even the plotline between Ramicus and the primary damsel, Ennogard, rings strongly of A Bard’s Tale. While being parodic is obviously its intent, intent is not always good enough to excuse lazy writing and design. You can tell by all the dangling rings that… something. Between its sloppy execution, unlikeable characters and mostly-flat comedy, there’s also the fact that this movie needed to be about a solid half hour shorter, at least. Some judicious snipping of the less-impressive jokes and pointless padding would have gone far to make this 2-hour dud seem a bit less torturously long. Sorry, I really tried to like this. But beyond a couple jokes (and Shokdor actually, I really liked Shokdor), Dudes and Dragons just isn’t very good. When it comes out on Redbox, consider grabbing a few nerdy friends and a bottle of your poison of choice – make a drinking game out of all the throwaway references and see how long it takes you to die. But beyond its shades of “so bad it’s good,” this film really isn’t worth picking up or trying to watch sober. Dungeons & D-Listers: Dudes & Dragons (2016)Alex's Rating2.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.