D&D Movie/TV What would a good D&D movie be like?

If you were in charge of making the next D&D and movie and wanted it to be good, how would you do it?

Specifically, how would it represent Dungeons & Dragons in plot, characters, conventions, etc? How it would it be both a good movie, and a good D&D movie? How can it appeal both to those familiar with gaming and to mainstream audiences?

You can get all the money and talent you need, so don't worry so much about the logistics. What does the movie end up looking like?
 

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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
It would use the Drizz't novels that showed how lived in the Underdark. Those books have an established fan base outside of D&D. People are familiar with elves, it would not be a leap to have dark elves. The story is interesting as is the environment and the character is attractive with cool fighting abilities.

Beyond that using an actual story and not so much focusing on aspects of the game would be best. An adult story with good actors and an interest story arc.
 

dracomilan

Explorer
For a "generic" D&D movie I would stay away from established characters and narratives, saving them for when the franchise will be strong and successful.
I would drop some names here and there, referring to fanous NPCs and places and definitely set the movie in the Forgotten Realms.
My movie would start in Waterdeep and have the characters travel throu the Realms all the way to Anauroch or Thay, it depends if researches tell me that undead are still trendy enough (then my main enemies are the Red Wizards) or mainstream is ready for a new class of enemies (then I make them fight the lorda of Shade).
It would be a story strongly focused on the different factions of the Realms, trying to make Harpers, Zhentarim etc family names.
Once that is accomplished, I am in business, and not stuck with some characters (that may or may be not interesting for different movies).
That's how I would do it.
 

wedgeski

Adventurer
This is a really hard question that I *hope* is keeping early production meetings on the movie going way into the night. Do we smash together a great high-fantasy movie that maybe has a famous D&D villain? Do we keep the D&D-ism's under the surface, as in-jokes to everyone who knows what a magic missile is? Do we Nolan-ise the whole thing and create angst-ridden heroes in a filthy, disease-ridden milieu?

Personally I think the best option is to find the best fantasy script on the market right now, buy it, add some close calls to D&D, and get it out there.
 

delericho

Legend
If you were in charge of making the next D&D and movie and wanted it to be good, how would you do it?

I would hire Vin Diesel and the Rock, and as much of the team behind the most recent "Fast & Furious" films, and tell them to do whatever it is they do that makes those films so successful.

But I should note that I'd be aiming for "unabashedly entertaining" (and, hopefully, "wildly successful"), rather than "good".
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
For a "generic" D&D movie I would stay away from established characters and narratives, saving them for when the franchise will be strong and successful.
I would drop some names here and there, referring to fanous NPCs and places and definitely set the movie in the Forgotten Realms.
My movie would start in Waterdeep and have the characters travel throu the Realms all the way to Anauroch or Thay, it depends if researches tell me that undead are still trendy enough (then my main enemies are the Red Wizards) or mainstream is ready for a new class of enemies (then I make them fight the lorda of Shade).
It would be a story strongly focused on the different factions of the Realms, trying to make Harpers, Zhentarim etc family names.
Once that is accomplished, I am in business, and not stuck with some characters (that may or may be not interesting for different movies).
That's how I would do it.

You use familiar names to establish a franchise. Why would you avoid them hoping the franchise would grow strong without them?
 

transtemporal

Explorer
Probably the first Dragonlance trilogy. Pretty epic stuff. Comedy, tragedy, betrayal, action, mystery, romance. Dragonlance has got it all.

Keifer Sutherland as Raistlin, lol.
 


hatecraft

First Post
The problem is that all of DnD settings were novel when they were created, but would seem to be full of tired tropes when presented to a mass audience. Everyone has already seen snooty elves and brutal orcs. They saw that in LotR, and the D&D movie isn't going to be bigger budget than LotR.

I'd want to see a movie with fantastic things as setting (these women wear dresses made from live birds), but not fantastic things as plot (we need to activate the aether crystal so that the void dragons don't devour the engine of Oosh!). So, I vote to put it in Planescape, the City of Doors.

Alternatively, put it in Dark Sun, and get the Mad Max guys to work on it.

And they should do what Lego did--wrap it in a meta-narrative. Show the triumphs and fears of the character echoed in the triumphs and joys of the players. Even if its just a single scene after the credits where all the players are eating shawarma and talking about how awesome that session was. Maybe the elf and the dwarf that were flirting in the game are also flirting in real life, and one of them asks the other out. You could use it to provide closure for in-game plots like that. But the meta-plot is what I really, really want to see. It's what sets D&D apart from any other game--it's a social game. You play it with your friends, and spend the whole time talking. It's like a party in your friends' shared imagination, and I think that needs to be represented.

But Hasbro is probably going to make it a generic Forgotten Realms movie, because that's the brand they're trying to grow.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Party Rapport.

Having a good zing and snap between the members of the party, lots of witticisms, tongue-in cheek humor, and a few "in" jokes for good measure.

That's something audiences readily get, and gamers readily recognize as a D&D party.
 

Ahrimon

Bourbon and Dice
Hide the game references. Don't say someone is casting a spell or point out the mechanics of things just to cater to the players. The story should flow naturally and these things should be behind the scenes.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I wouldn't so much aim at iconic protagonists for the most part, so much as make the plot revolve around an iconic antagonist and/or macguffins. Seeing someone like Vecna or an item like the Rod of Seven Parts on the screen would definitely let the long-time D&D players in on the movie's gaming origins, while providing enough hooks to generate a bunch of potential plots in the hands of a skilled team of writers.
 

dracomilan

Explorer
You use familiar names to establish a franchise. Why would you avoid them hoping the franchise would grow strong without them?

Names, yes. Of places, items, people. Characters, nope. I would never make a movie about famous NPC X, but about Adventurers band Y (they can be you and your friends).

See also [MENTION=19675]Dannyalcatraz[/MENTION] answer.
 

I'd make it a soft sequel to the '80s D&D cartoon.

No. Really.

I'd have a group of 20 somethings pulled from our world into "the world of Dungeons and Dragons" where they find four magic items. Likely a sword, wand, holy symbol, and dagger to fit the four iconic character roles (and not overlap with the existing items). This works because magic items allow the "heroes" to be badasses despite having no skill. So a sword that cuts anything, a wand that cast spells, a holy symbol that heals, and a dagger that returns when thrown even the playing field between the everymen protagonists and all the monsters they fight.
The characters should likely find some local (an elf maybe?) to explain the world and plot as they stumble into adventure, while trying to find their way home. Throw in a nice mix of D&D monsters and classic beasts, a simple dungeon crawl, and generic quest. Volia.

The advantage of this would be the "metaphor" for the game, with regular people entering a fantasy world where they can be heroes. It also sidesteps the generic nature of the game worlds, which are advantageous for the game (hitting all the tropes) but would make a movie seem, well, cliche. It provides a hook to separate the D&D movie from all the more generic fantasy movies, which have the advantage of being based on a book or other property with a firm story and known characters.
Plus, it would enable the protagonists to make pop culture references and crack wise despite the serious trouble they're in. Which feels a lot like how the game plays.
It'd almost be advantageous to have the plot be generic. "Gather ye the seven parts of the rod of wonder. Then ye may use it to open the portal to get home. Keep them away from the forces of darkness." Just so the protagonists can lampshade the plot. "But, y'know, what if we throw the parts in the ocean? Or in a really, really deep hole?" And, of course, one of the people sending the heroes on the quest turns out to be the villain and betrays the party. Which, of course, the heroes knew and anticipated. "Oh come on: you're bald, dressed in all black, and have a goatee. You might as well have cackled maniacally."

I'd also slip in a reference to the original cartoon series, suggesting the fate of the old heroes. Likely with the new heroes' mentor revealing himself to be from the real world, but having chosen to stay behind and be a hero. Which, of course, the new group would do as well, opting to remain and be heroes and get home "someday". Because sequels.
And since we're fanwanking already, lets throw in a "lost" episode of the cartoon as a bonus feature on the DVD. Although, I imagine the rights to that are a hellish muddle.
 
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There's two good way to do it, IMO.

1) You turn one of the best novels into a movie (ideally under the consultation of the author), bringing the biggest named characters. This uses the existing IP in a new way, bringing in D&D players and new people alike. The downside to this is determining the "best" novels, as each person is going to have their own opinions. Sales might be the best way to go.

2) You set up a brand new group of PCs to fight the forces of evil in a known D&D world, aided by some well known NPCs. In FR, you could base it in Waterdeep, with Mirt the Moneylender as their patron, or in the Dalelands with Elminster as their adviser. The downside to this is you don't really want new PCs to defeat a well known bad guy, since that will probably annoy fans of that setting.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Names, yes. Of places, items, people. Characters, nope. I would never make a movie about famous NPC X, but about Adventurers band Y (they can be you and your friends).

See also [MENTION=19675]Dannyalcatraz[/MENTION] answer.

That would lead to failure like the previous D&D movies. Fantasy movies that succeed are those with an established fan base outside of a game.
 

dracomilan

Explorer
That would lead to failure like the previous D&D movies. Fantasy movies that succeed are those with an established fan base outside of a game.

You sure seem pretty sure about that.

I do not agree.

You could establish the Forgotten Realms, the Zhentarim, the Harpers as a household name without using any of the established uberpowerful NPCs as main characters.

The previous D&D movies failed for a LOT of reasons, starting from a terrible plot and no reference to ANY relevant place/organization/item. Most fantasy films didn't have a fan base before the movie made that world famous (a quick IMDB search will make that clear).
 

delericho

Legend
Most fantasy films didn't have a fan base before the movie made that world famous (a quick IMDB search will make that clear).

Most fantasy films have also been abject failures. Even known properties such as the Conan remake or the Narnia series (after "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe") haven't done terribly well.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
It would use the Drizz't novels that showed how lived in the Underdark. Those books have an established fan base outside of D&D. People are familiar with elves, it would not be a leap to have dark elves. The story is interesting as is the environment and the character is attractive with cool fighting abilities.

You can't put drow on the big screen, at least not right now. It would be too "triggering" regarding racism and sexism.
 

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