Dragonlance: Dragons Of Autumn Twilight
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (11th January 2008).
The Film

"Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight" is a direct-to-DVD movie based on the popular "Dungeons and Dragons" series of novels. The story follows the adventures of Tanis (Michael Rosenbaum), a half-elf who sets out to save the land of Krynn. Apparently 300 years ago, the gods left the world behind, and it has fallen into chaos. Along with the help of his friends Goldmoon the cleric (Lucy Lawless), Raistlin the dark wizard (Kiefer Sutherland), and others, Tanis sets out to bring the gods back to Krynn, saving it from CG-Dragon rule.

There are a whole heap of things wrong with this film. There is almost nothing original or interesting about the story. I know it is easy to compare any fantasy tale to "The Lord of the Rings", but certain instances call for attention. There is the half-man protagonist. There are elven towns in the forests, accompanied by suspiciously familiar music cues. There is an encounter with dead soldiers who help the main group. Not one, but two characters perish in mines, only to come back more powerful. The list goes on, so I hope this is starting to sound familiar. The stale story certainly isn't helped out by the weak voice acting. The material already isn't inspiring, but you'd think big names like Sutherland, Lawless, and voice acting veteran Phil LaMarr would put in a little more effort.

Even with the movie's 'PG-13' rating, the movie can be pretty graphic for an animated feature. While 90% of the movie is akin to a Saturday morning cartoon, every once in a while a curveball is thrown. For example, there is a scene where one of the adventurers ogles the bouncing breasts and behind of Tika (Michelle Trachtenberg). Some of the violence in the film is pretty dull, but randomly a character will show up missing his arm and bleeding out his stump. Lastly, there is a scene where Tanis explains his origin, elaborating on how his elf mother was raped by a man, and he was the product thereof. Such dramatic scenes really didn't help this movie find it's footing, as I could never tell if it was supposed to be a dark fantasy film, or a silly action cartoon.

As if the story elements of the movie weren't weak enough, the animation is truly atrocious. The film serves up characters and monsters in both 2D and 3D animation. The 2D animation is amateurish and inconsistent. There were times I felt like half the frames were missing when characters would move. The 3D animation, used to animate most of the bad guys in the movie, is on par with the cinematic cut scenes of a fantasy computer game circa 1996. Whenever the 2D good guys fight a 3D baddie, the interaction on screen just looks awkward. I felt like much of the animation was glitchy as well, such as weird bumps when some characters would move fast. When I was watching the movie, I really felt like I was watching an unfinished product.

Maybe this movie doesn't work for me on some level because I'm not a fan of the "Dragonlance" book series or even of "Dungeons and Dragons" as a whole. However, I don't think I would appreciate such a lazily made product if it was working with an intellectual property that I actually cared about. There is nothing redeemable about this film.

Video

The film is offered in 1.85:1 widescreen format enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The picture quality was very inconsistent throughout the feature. At times it would look decent, but at other times, lines would look pixilated, going back to the "glitchy" look I was talking about.

Audio

The film's audio is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Surround with the option of English subtitles. The film has some mildly entertaining sound effects that projected well enough (probably the best thing about the whole movie), and the Howard Shore-esque score is clear enough. Not enough to save the movie though.

Extras

Paramount has included some animation footage and bonus trailers as extras on this disc. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

The first extra is "Original Test Animations" footage which runs for 1 minute 25 seconds. Here you can see some scenes from the movie played out in the pre-production stages, with character devoid of color. I had a good laugh at the test segments that would include a monstrous 3D dragon, but instead show the heroes fighting thin air, with the words "3D DRAGON WILL GO HERE" on top of them.

The next extra is "Initial Character Designs" footage which runs for 2 minutes 41 seconds. The evolution of "Dragonlance's" characters is shown here, as they progress from the early stages of sketches, to the fully colored characters in the film.

Also on the DVD are some bonus trailers which include:

- "Stardust" which runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.
- "Transformers" which runs for 2 minutes 3 seconds.
- "Casshern" which runs for 1 minute 2 seconds.
- "Iron Man" which runs for 2 minutes 31 seconds.
- "Beowulf" which runs for 2 minutes 7 seconds.

Overall

The Film: F Video: C- Audio: B+ Extras: C Overall: D+

 


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