When the first D&D film hit cinemas in 2000 there was a lot of trepidation on my part. I'd read about the troubled production and wasn't bowled over by the trailer, and the look and feel of the film just didn't shout 'D&D!' at me. In fact, it shouted 'TV Movie Pilot!' at me, but being a gamer I went to the cinema to check it out.
I didn't like it at all, but I have equal disappointment and sympathy for the movie's director, Courtney Solomon, as he wanted to introduce some kind of huge world of adventure that unfortunately fell flat with a dull story, some bad dialogue, terrible effects and actors who were there to pick up a paycheck. This was his first feature but it is good to see that he's continued on in the industry in several capacities, so good luck to him - I'm sure that any one of us would have killed for the chance to get our hands on the budget and stars to make our own D&D movie, and this guy did just that.
The two movies that followed were just as bad and even though I much preferred the atmosphere and feel of the second movie 'Wrath of the Dragon God' - the filmmakers had obviously taken some pointers regarding giving a semblance of reality to a world by watching the extras on the 'Lord of the Rings' Special Edition DVDs - it was still a bad film. I won't mention the third film as I only saw it recently and I'm still very sore. I'm sure as hell not going to talk about that animated 'Dragonlance' cartoon.
So, we've got three movies for the D&D franchise that haven't done well and have been pretty much ridiculed for years. Has that destroyed any chance of a decent D&D movie?
D&D is a lot of things to a lot of people and there's a lot that can be done with it. Fantasy movies, done right, can still bring in the crowds and with the success of the Peter Jackson movies and 'Game of Thrones' on HBO there's definitely a market out there for it in various incarnations. Perhaps the main problem with D&D is the aura of severe socially awkward nerd it still unjustifiably has hanging around it, and movie producers are concerned that people won't go and see it because of the stigma attached.
I'm sure that someone out there will do something with it. Whether its a fun action TV show in the vein of 'Hercules' or 'Xena' - which isn't a bad thing - or a brooding serious show like 'Game of Thrones', it will work for D&D. D&D can be pretty much any kind of fantasy. You could say that as long as it alludes to the elements that make D&D what it is you don't even have to call it D&D, but surely it would then be just a fantasy movie. Maybe that's part of the difficulty.
We just need to give it to a team that believes in the genre and the world, not just the game. It doesn't even have to be D&D - Pathfinder would work amazingly well.
Either way, I've still got hope for a decent D&D live-action show.