[What if?] John Boorman directs Gygax's D&D movie

Sacrosanct

Legend
Dredging up the old TSR era bad management decisions in the other thread made me wonder something. When Gary heard Kevin Blume was destroying the company (spending company money to bring up a shipwreck? Really?), he left LA and headed back to try to correct things. While in LA, he did the D&D cartoon (which we all know about), but was in negotiations for a D&D movie. Orsen Wells agreed to star in it. Boorman was gonna direct it.

So....in this what if world. What if Kevin Blume wasn't blowing money, and Gary never left Hollywood. What if a D&D movie did get made.

Would it be like Boorman's Zardoz, or more like his work with Deliverance and Excalibur? Would it have been possible that the official D&D movie would have been good, and not the disaster that we ended up getting in 2000 (I think around then)?
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
A crap shoot? Obviously its all speculation, even with a killer production crew and cast a movie can just sink itself (for a thousand reasons). And totally unheard of crew can put together a one-off one-hit wonder and never do anything worthy after that.

But...
Well, I don't think Gary had the refinement, knowledge, or ability to pull off a masterpiece. But, a D&D movie does not need to be Master Piece Theater to be a great movie. I think there would have been about a 70% chance of Excalibur, and 30% chance of something not worthy of a footnote :)

I imagine it would not have been as refined as Excalibur, probably a bit darker. Maybe like Dragonslayer? Something with better chance of being a cult hit than a blockbuster.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
A crap shoot? Obviously its all speculation, even with a killer production crew and cast a movie can just sink itself (for a thousand reasons). And totally unheard of crew can put together a one-off one-hit wonder and never do anything worthy after that.

But...
Well, I don't think Gary had the refinement, knowledge, or ability to pull off a masterpiece. But, a D&D movie does not need to be Master Piece Theater to be a great movie. I think there would have been about a 70% chance of Excalibur, and 30% chance of something not worthy of a footnote :)

I imagine it would not have been as refined as Excalibur, probably a bit darker. Maybe like Dragonslayer? Something with better chance of being a cult hit than a blockbuster.
While what you say is totally technically true, we can sort of make some guesses based on who is working on it. Boorman and Orson Wells? That gives me some hope that it could have been decent. Of course, writing is pretty important...

But maybe I'll take this as a chance to take another shot at Kevin Blume for denying us a movie that would have been better than the garbage we got later :D
 
It would have made Hawk the Slayer look like a masterpiece. Gygax can't write a decent story and Boorman's pretentious remake of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (with most of the jokes removed) was already looking dated (it was later when it came back into fashion).
 

Zardnaar

Hero
It would have made Hawk the Slayer look like a masterpiece. Gygax can't write a decent story and Boorman's pretentious remake of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (with most of the jokes removed) was already looking dated (it was later when it came back into fashion).
This.

Would bet on low budget B grade at best without the charms of Krull or whatever.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
Were it the Goldman script about Tom Boyman, I suspect it would've been a DOA lump. We'd watch it now with the same frame of mind we watch Mazes & Monsters. As much as I love Boorman's Excalibur, I don't think any director could've salvaged that script.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
It would have made Hawk the Slayer look like a masterpiece. Gygax can't write a decent story and Boorman's pretentious remake of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (with most of the jokes removed) was already looking dated (it was later when it came back into fashion).
Huh? Are you referring to Excalibur? That was a great movie. Even if you get past the part where he cast his own daughter to do a nude sex scene (which was creepy), the movie itself was great. And a couple years after being tagged for a D&D movie, he made Hope and Glory. A film nominated for best picture, director, and screenplay in the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and BAFTA. He had also made Deliverance prior. So Zardoz aside, it doesn't mean the D&D movie would be a sinker automatically.
 

ART!

Explorer
...Boorman's pretentious remake of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (with most of the jokes removed) was already looking dated (it was later when it came back into fashion).
Yeah, that's an...unexpected take.

Even at the time I could tell it was "low-budget", but only by the standards of then-recent genre hits, but "pretentious remake of Monty Python and the Holy Grail"?

I mean...it's not a remake, but I'm fairly confident you know that.

As for "pretentious", that's not a charge I've ever heard anyone level at that movie. It takes the source material seriously and is probably more faithful than any adaptation of Le Morte dArthur before or since (I don't know that anyone else has really tried), but is it "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed" (a quickly-Googled definition of "pretentious")? Not that I can tell - they were just trying to make a serious adaptation of a legendary/mythic story.


More precisely on-topic: given how less-than-stellar most fantasy movies of that era were, a D&D movie would most likely have fallen in a similar range. But the value of those movies isn't really judged by mainstream award-winning movie standards: they're popcorn flicks.

I wonder if it would have been more..."goofy", like Krull or Hawk the Slayer, more "serious/dark" like Dragonslayer or Excalibur, or more classic adventure stuff like the old Sinbad movies...
 
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Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
I enjoyed Excalibur (1981), and would have loved to see his take on D&D.

It would have easily compared to those Sinbad (1958-77) films, Conan The Barbarian (1982) and The Sword And The Sorcerer (1982) for music, and scenery and costumes.

The script is the only thing.

And good thing it was not anything like Zardoz (1974), starring Sean Connery. Even watching the trailer it was BAD sci-fi.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Probably better than the Courtney Solomon travesty, but probably less good than Excalibur or Princess Bride. Still probably a good commercial for the game.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Speaking of a D&D Movie, has their actually been anything reliable mentioned in the last year? I think the last reliable thing I heard was is was scheduled for something like a 2023?? release? Which means a script and cast should be close right?
 

Parmandur

Legend
Speaking of a D&D Movie, has their actually been anything reliable mentioned in the last year? I think the last reliable thing I heard was is was scheduled for something like a 2023?? release? Which means a script and cast should be close right?
I think the last date info was 2021, and the psychologist from Bones is directing?
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
I suspect we'd be looking at a very dubious cult movie and given its position in time and movie history it might have done more damage to the D&D brand than the largely forgotten 2000 travesty. Orson Wells being involved doesn't bode well, either, at that point.

I suspect if the script was taken away from Gygax and given to a real writer, and maybe Wells lost interest and we got Boorman in a more positive mood we might have had something decent, still basically a cult movie but a good one. Ironically though even that might not have been great longer term because it might fossilise D&D too much in the minds of many, whereas actual flops or "kid's stuff" don't really do that.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I suspect we'd be looking at a very dubious cult movie and given its position in time and movie history it might have done more damage to the D&D brand than the largely forgotten 2000 travesty. Orson Wells being involved doesn't bode well, either, at that point.

I suspect if the script was taken away from Gygax and given to a real writer, and maybe Wells lost interest and we got Boorman in a more positive mood we might have had something decent, still basically a cult movie but a good one. Ironically though even that might not have been great longer term because it might fossilise D&D too much in the minds of many, whereas actual flops or "kid's stuff" don't really do that.
This is the second time I've seen this comment about Boorman being a bad choice at the time and I don't really get it. As I mentioned above, right after this he went onto make a movie that was nominated for a couple Academy awards, Golden globes, and BAFTA awards.


Orson Wells circa 1980:

To be fair, just because he was drunk during this ad doesn't mean he would have been a horrible actor in a movie. Other notable actors who were wasted on set?

  • Margot Robbie in "The Wolf of Wall Street" ...
  • Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in "Fight Club" ...
  • Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in "Black Swan" ...
  • Jennifer Lawrence in "Catching Fire" ...
  • Daniel Radcliffe in "Harry Potter" ...
  • Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music"
  • Spencer Tracy in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
  • Peter O'Toole in "Laurence of Arabia"
  • Billy Bob Thorton in "Bad Santa"
  • Gary Oldman in "Bram Stokers Dracula"
  • Martin Sheen in "Apocalypse Now"
  • Richard Burton in everything he did
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
This is the second time I've seen this comment about Boorman being a bad choice at the time and I don't really get it. As I mentioned above, right after this he went onto make a movie that was nominated for a couple Academy awards, Golden globes, and BAFTA awards.
Boorman's general skill isn't the problem. His suitability for a project like this is. I mean, look at his other projects from this era. More broadly, this would have been a bad, bad time to make a D&D movie generally. Its the tail end of auteur era, which Boorman is part of, where films are for filmmakers, not audiences and Star Wars etc had started to change things but not for directors like him.

As such, you'd likely have had a very phantasmagorical and perhaps metaphorical movie that had little to do with D&D and which probably wasn't very watchable, nor really lasting as a classic. With a different director, say Rob Reiner or John McTeirnan or someone, and being made in the mid 1980s or later, sure, that could have ended well, but in that era, with that director and writer? No.

Also you somewhat slanderous if amusing scuttlebutt list of "wasted on set" people misses the point - Welles was giving a lot of phoned in and terrible performances and had no physicality by that point. He'd have been bad in anything but a cameo.
 

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