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D&D Movie/TV Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith Join D&D Movie

From Comic Book Movies -- "Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar) and Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu) have joined Wonder Woman 1984's Chris Pine in Paramount and eOne's upcoming big-budget board game adaptation, Dungeons & Dragons..."

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We learned in December about Chris Pine's involvement, along with directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley.

 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

I don't have anything much besides a "let's wait and see and maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised" feeling going into this movie. I've seen all three of the previous D&D movies and none of them were very good, although each one did manage to be a little better than those before it. (Admittedly, it's not a very high bar.) This one has some bigger names associated with it, so I suppose that's potentially a good sign. But again, I don't have any high hopes for this, partly because I don't particularly like Christopher Pine (I hated the new Star Trek movies and was disappointed in Wonder Woman) and have no real feelings towards Michelle Rodriguez (having only ever seen her before in Lost, where they spent some time building her character only to fire her when her off-camera antics got to be too much to deal with - I haven't seen any of the movies in the Fast and Furious franchise).

But I will add this to the discussion: I thoroughly enjoyed Legend and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Johnathan
 

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Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
Clearly, Hollywood should be keeping an eye on the ENWorld boards, where everyone running multi-billion dollar businesses could discover they've been doing it all wrong for decades and the clear answer for how to create successful movies is to, um, adapt a previously created idea, preferably a D&D novel. (y)

I cited Save the Cat because it's the most egregious example of Hollywood group-think, but if the fact that the book is older (although still very popular in screenwriting and especially production circles) is an issue, you don't have to look very far to find other examples, whether it's the "Die Hard but on a _______" genre that started in the early 1990s (and which gave us the excellent Speed and pretty good Under Siege) and continues today or the flurry of YA adaptations that followed Twilight (which gave us the excellent Hunger Games movies and the not so good everything else). Barring 2020's non-release schedule, it's common to see similar films coming out close to one another, because even the whiff of a good idea is enough to get other studios working on the same idea. Last year, I watched a whole slew of Netflix shows and movies with superpowers, all following in the footsteps of you know who.

But maybe fantasy adaptations are different. That seems like a bit of cheat, in that the thing that was once prohibitive for adapting fantasy (and science fiction) was the cost of special effects, has gotten dirt cheap thanks to CGI. There's certainly a lot of them being made nowadays, including ones already on our screens. We can argue about the ending of Game of Thrones, but it's hard to say the series as a whole wasn't a commercial and critical success. But Shanarra, also based on a wildly popular series of novels ... was not. Outlander is a big hit (and is likely only not considered a mainstream fantasy hit because of the gendered view of romance novels) while Legend of the Seeker, again based on extremely popular novels is ... again, not.

The lines of what constitutes a fantasy work and what doesn't are fuzzy and getting fuzzier all the time, but Supernatural, Stranger Things, Teen Wolf, Penny Dreadful, Fringe and Charmed all succeeded without being based on anything other than a name, an idea and good concepts by their showrunners. (Those are all over the maps in terms of quality, even between seasons, but they were all commercial successes.) And Xena, again while perhaps past some sort of statute of limitations, was hit fondly remembered decades later that was a spin-off of a TV series that had only the loosest connection to Greek myth. And Xena itself was more or less a hit out of whole cloth and much more fondly remembered than its ancestor.

But honestly, this is a pretty silly argument on an increasingly silly thread. There isn't a sure-fire way to create a hit in Hollywood, whatever the genre. It's not adaptations. It's not remakes. It's not chasing the trend of the week. It's not even hard work by talented people, because sometimes, for no reason that anyone can predict, or maybe ever identify, the audience just isn't there for the product.

No one working on the D&D movie or anything with a lot of special effects that have to be worked on over the course of months or maybe longer, is going to wing it without a sold script in hand. The amount of effort being put into any special effects-laden work is at least as much effort as is put into any D&D novel. (Oh, and RE, if you're super mad at me because I said D&D novels are bad and you're secretly a D&D novel author, I didn't mean your novels. Not sure quite why you're so pissed at me, and it's not something I'm here to incite.) So adapting a D&D novel isn't somehow going to mean a more thought-out series bible than the film would otherwise get. (Now, if you're adapting Tolkien or Martin, or someone else who fills phone books with series detail, that's a different story, although even then, it has to be something the studio can work with; tossing someone 1,000 pages about the ancient history of a setting doesn't mean any of it is useful to screenwriters or directors.)

The D&D novels don't have huge name recognition out of gamer circles, and most of them are so far in the past, I think it's fair to say many contemporary players have never read them. I think we can all agree that the studio wants a mass market hit, not a niche success, and the brand name they'll be promoting is Dungeons & Dragons. I think the fact that they're filming in Ireland is probably most important for tax purposes, but it certainly does offer a ton of scenic locations. It could be the Moonshae Isles, or it could be Screenwriterpulleditoutofhisbutt Land. We won't know for a while.

I will go see the new D&D movie the same way I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl -- nervously, but with optimism. It could certainly stink -- although it'll be hard to top the first one in that regard, even though it, too, has some nice bones in the form of the 3E setting that WotC appeared to have been toying with releasing, based on the snippets they posted on their website at the time -- but if it does, I have faith that the creators will have screwed it up all on their own, whether they adapt it from previously published work or not.
I'm in agreement with you on "how to make a Hollywood hit" . . . in that really, there's no magic formula despite Hollywood constantly looking for one.

But I'll pushback on your criticism of D&D novels. I certainly don't think a D&D movie needs to adapt any of the existing novels, but there are plenty of them that would work pretty well. D&D novels, as a genre, aren't crap. Not any more or less than any other genre (and yes, IMO, they are a genre in addition to being a franchise). Some of the D&D novels ARE crap, but some are amazing. And they DO have recognition beyond gamer circles, all of Salvatore's Drizzt novels have hit the NYT best-seller lists, and so have many of the other D&D novels over the years. There are tons of fantasy fans who've read many of the novels, and never played the game.

You gotta remember a decade or so back, that walking into your local bookstore and drifting over to the fantasy section . . . . the D&D novels took up entire shelves of real estate . . . love 'em or hate 'em, they were hard to avoid in those days. Even now when it's just reprints of the core Dragonlance novels and Salvatore's "Dark Elf" series, they still take up a lot of shelf real estate. And they ARE still being reprinted, the most popular series, because they DO have lots of fans.

So . . . I don't need the new D&D movie to adapt any of the novels, but I'd be okay with them doing that. For the record, I'm 99% sure they aren't.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I wouldn't especially want a D&D movie set in Eberron, but including one or more warforged would be a way to distinguish it from LOTR, GoT, et al - but not so many steam/magic powered machiney things that it completely throws off the classic fantasy vibe.
There is literally nothing steam powered in Eberron, and the "classic fantasy vibe" isn't especially necessary or even helpful. The movie will have a much harder time succeeding if it's Middle Earth but with a couple more races and oh hey there is a guy made of wood and stone!
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
There is literally nothing steam powered in Eberron, and the "classic fantasy vibe" isn't especially necessary or even helpful. The movie will have a much harder time succeeding if it's Middle Earth but with a couple more races and oh hey there is a guy made of wood and stone!
Eberron magi-tech isn't steam-powered, but it IS a mash-up of classic D&D and the steampunk esthetic. That's not ALL it is, of course, but it is a part of Eberron's special sauce.

Classic D&D is pretty darn close to the Tolkien esthetic, and while I would LOVE to see a D&D Eberron, Dark Sun, or other movie set in somewhere a bit off the classic setting . . . . for the first release of a new franchise, they are likely to stick with classic D&D. Which is what I'm hoping they do, both for my own selfish enjoyment and for the success of the franchise.
 

I actually though Elizabeth Olsen was considerably better in WandaVision than she had been previously. But I suspect that is acting opposite Bettany. The difference between a good actor and a great actor is a good actor makes every scene they are in better, a great actor makes every actor near them into a good actor.
You know what Paul? That's fair. She was better than previously, I cannot deny it. And yeah maybe Bettany is helping but she is improving and I doubt it's just him. I think she's a cool person just, like, it's weird to see the praise. I'd forgotten how appallingly good he can be - I watched Manhunt this week and he plays the Unabomber in that, and is extremely good at humanizing a character who most actors would make into some kind of Hannibal Lecter-esque creep/freak, whilst still making him quite disturbing (Sam Worthington who is normally cardboard-like is also surprisingly good in that - apparently the secret with him is like, make him do all the acting with his face rather than giving him a lot of lines - there's one bit where he essentially dismisses his wife with a minor expression change which was particularly real and nasty).
 

Eberron magi-tech isn't steam-powered, but it IS a mash-up of classic D&D and the steampunk esthetic. That's not ALL it is, of course, but it is a part of Eberron's special sauce.

Classic D&D is pretty darn close to the Tolkien esthetic, and while I would LOVE to see a D&D Eberron, Dark Sun, or other movie set in somewhere a bit off the classic setting . . . . for the first release of a new franchise, they are likely to stick with classic D&D. Which is what I'm hoping they do, both for my own selfish enjoyment and for the success of the franchise.
That doesn't make any sense. I gotta go with @doctorbadwolf on this one. Eberron isn't a particularly wild thing. It's just a slightly more modern fantasy setting. And I don't think you're remotely thinking about the modern audience. How do you think people are? "Classic D&D" is like, retirement-age stuff almost (soz all my fellow oldies). I'm 42 and I was raised on Dark Sun and Planescape and so on. Not on Greyhawk or a particularly staid take on the Forgotten Realms.

I mean, jeez, even the very first setting I bought - Taladas- has massive steampunk fortress replete with a ton of steampunk technology (before steampunk was even popularized as a term even among nerds). Back in 1989.

So how old do you think the audience for this movie is that they want "classic D&D" or "classic fantasy", which is like what, 1970s and 1980s stuff? Larry Elmore and Clyde Caldwell? I mean there's nothing wrong with that, but it's like, granddad stuff almost. Why would you want a movie that needs to succeed to go that way? Eberron would be much more likely to at least fit with how people under 40 envision fantasy, people who were raised on Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft and so on.
Oof. Never mind. I won’t get in an argument about movies with someone whose POV on acting is this...absolutely terrible on every level.

Lol I’ll stick to talking to you about games, then!
So the guy saying Legend, of all things is a great movie thinks I have "terrible" POV? I mean, I think that maybe means I have a "great" POV? :p But let's be real, neither of us have any shortage of hot takes. At least I know mine for what they are!
 

MGibster

Legend
So how old do you think the audience for this movie is that they want "classic D&D" or "classic fantasy", which is like what, 1970s and 1980s stuff? Larry Elmore and Clyde Caldwell? I mean there's nothing wrong with that, but it's like, granddad stuff almost.
Ouch! Very often producers underestimate what their audience is willing to accept. The Dr. Doom from the first Fantastic Four movie, the first one to hit theaters not the Corman version, didn't much resemble the comic book villain because they didn't think audiences would accept it. But audiences are pretty open to the fantastic these days. If they can accept Thor they can accept almost anything.
 

Mirtek

Adventurer
See the new MtG setting, which is viking based, with Black people.

The Moonsheas don't have to be white. Celts don't have to be white.
So instead of taking another ethnic's stuff and giving it to white people, they now take PoC but overwrite them with white culture? I can't help but see this as a form whitewashing.
 


So instead of taking another ethnic's stuff and giving it to white people, they now take PoC but overwrite them with white culture? I can't help but see this as a form whitewashing.
There were non-white people in medieval Europe. Scholars disagree on how many and this site probably overstates how many, per pretty much every other historian on the planet, but Europe was not lily white back in the day.

And no one in the Forgotten Realms is real. You can't discriminate against the fictional people who "ought" to be depicted there when you replace them with other also fictional people.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
That doesn't make any sense. I gotta go with @doctorbadwolf on this one. Eberron isn't a particularly wild thing. It's just a slightly more modern fantasy setting. And I don't think you're remotely thinking about the modern audience. How do you think people are? "Classic D&D" is like, retirement-age stuff almost (soz all my fellow oldies). I'm 42 and I was raised on Dark Sun and Planescape and so on. Not on Greyhawk or a particularly staid take on the Forgotten Realms.

I mean, jeez, even the very first setting I bought - Taladas- has massive steampunk fortress replete with a ton of steampunk technology (before steampunk was even popularized as a term even among nerds). Back in 1989.

So how old do you think the audience for this movie is that they want "classic D&D" or "classic fantasy", which is like what, 1970s and 1980s stuff? Larry Elmore and Clyde Caldwell? I mean there's nothing wrong with that, but it's like, granddad stuff almost. Why would you want a movie that needs to succeed to go that way? Eberron would be much more likely to at least fit with how people under 40 envision fantasy, people who were raised on Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft and so on.

So the guy saying Legend, of all things is a great movie thinks I have "terrible" POV? I mean, I think that maybe means I have a "great" POV? :p But let's be real, neither of us have any shortage of hot takes. At least I know mine for what they are!
Yeah, bud, the opinions of anyone who speaks that snobbishly about any art form loses a decent chunk of respect from me, at least on the subject of art. 🤷‍♂️

Elitism is never valid.
 


Scribe

Hero
What wild nonsense are you talking about?
If I had to guess, the fact a 'viking / Norse' set for MtG had PoC, as a sign that it's OK to subvert a culture when it's perceived to be predominantly white.

Same argument kicked up with Dominaria, because it had non-White Knights (and even female!) and a non-White Angel.

Despite Magic having diversity in its art since...forever.

Not something I lose sleep over.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If I had to guess, the fact a 'viking / Norse' set for MtG had PoC, as a sign that it's OK to subvert a culture when it's perceived to be predominantly white.
I mean, I’ve given up trying to explain to ppl that appropriation is about power and not like...people being in the “wrong” culture.
Same argument kicked up with Dominaria, because it had non-White Knights (and even female!) and a non-White Angel.
Ugh. No one ever told them that angels come from South Asia?
Despite Magic having diversity in its art since...forever.

Not something I lose sleep over.
Yeah. Folks are very strange.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Sure, it's well done. So is the opening crawl to Star Wars. But it sets a tone that is different to the one the D&D movie is supposed to be aiming for. And I doubt anyone could make "how Eberron is different from GenericFantasyland" as interesting as "The Last Alliance of Elves and Men".
Why would you try to explain Eberron like that, though? It’s completely unnecessary.
 


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