Let’s talk about the D&D movie currently in development.
Fandom is abuzz over recent articles (that seem dubious at best, in my opinion) that proclaim the studio is casting a wide net to land an A-List male actor to spearhead the film.
The director attached has since walked, so it is being touted that the current A-List search is to help attract a big name director as well.
What’s weird is the list of actors Paramount is supposedly considering: Will Smith, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Matthew McConaughey, Jamie Foxx, Joel Edgerton, Dave Bautista, Jeremy Renner, and Johnny Depp.
They’re practically interchangeable.
As for the script, it was penned by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (Orphan, Red Riding Hood, Wrath of the Titans, The Conjuring 2, Aquaman) with rewrites by Michael Gillio (whose credits are less than inspiring).
With a projected release date of Summer 2021, one would think they would get the ball rolling, but this being Hollywood, it’s best not to get too excited.
So far there have been no links as to the nature of the script so I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about what I would like to see, personally, from a Dungeons & Dragons film.
Of course, first and foremost, we need absolutely nothing akin to the travesties that have already been visited upon us. The horrors of the Courtney Solomon era are best forgotten, with history rewrit to scrub our memories clean of such a thing having ever existed in the first place.
The thing I am most hopeful for is a proper, huge budgeted adaptation of Dragonlance. Super-fan Joe Manganiello has penned a script that is, by all accounts, respectable. There are secret rumblings that it might even be going into production soon.
Which means, if Dragonlance is going to happen AND a separate D&D movie is also in the works, we need to make sure they are thematically different from each other.
You would think that a movie based on Dungeons & Dragons would have, well, dungeons and dragons in it, but if Dragonlance is happening, I think another route should be taken. The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to full-on embrace that which has already been laid out for us.
If I were tapped to shepherd the Dungeons & Dragons movie franchise I would look toward the roots of the game itself. We do not need to create some generic fantasy film or Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones knock-off. All we have to do is look to the stories themselves, those that set our imaginations on edge forty years ago.
I would approach it as a pentalogy of films, with the introductory film being an adaptation of The Keep on the Borderlands, followed by Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, Hall of the Fire Giant King, and, finally, Queen of the Demonweb Pits.
I would litter the characters’ dialogue with lots of easter eggs and in-jokes, but keeping in mind that these movies have to appeal to more than just the longtime fans of the game. They have to stand on their own.
That said, the mechanics of the game have to be on the screen: searching for traps and secret doors, looting the dead, gathering spell components, and all the tropes that make the game what it is… Otherwise, why stick the D&D brand on the thing?
You want to attract people to the hobby.
Which leads me to the opening credits. I want to see people coming to someone’s house and sitting down at the table where a map and minis are laid out. I want each of these “everypersons” to be a cypher for the main characters in the film. I want the DM to start the game with an ominous monologue as the scene fades into the action of the film, each player slowly morphing into the characters…
This can be done, and done right. It can be both an epic film franchise and faithful to the hobby. That’s all I’m asking for. I want to see D&D on the big screen. Not some cheesy generic fantasy film. I want to see the magic of the tabletop experience translated to the cinema screen.
Come on Paramount. Don’t let us down.
— Bob Freeman