Tuesday, August 4, 2015
A different D&D movie
I remember very clearly the release of the D&D movie in the fall of 2000. The actual day was in December, but it was very mild that day. I was a sophomore in college and had gone back and forth with a freshman friend over whether the film would be any good. I remember reading the movie reviews in the morning and realizing that it was not just going to be disappointing, but actually memorably awful, worthy of parody and scorn. So a bunch of us - and I have to say in my defense, we had women going with us - got together that evening and trekked out to the local theater where students got in for five bucks. We sat down and watched, and when the credits rolled my freshman friend's voice cut the air: "That was bad."
There's going to be another D&D movie, this time set in the Forgotten Realms. Let me tell you - that's boring. The Realms is too stocked with iconic characters who will never translate well to the screen, and there's no iconic plot that would work as a film. No, I've thought about this and I know what would make a good D&D movie.
So you take two veteran film actors, maybe guys with geek cred to their names, and you have them play Mordenkainen and Robilar. Most people won't care who they are, but D&D fans have heard of them. And you start off with a flashback of them in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, trying but failing to get a MacGuffin. It doesn't really matter what, it could be pretty much any of the artifacts in the old DMG.
Then you go to the present time of the movie, and older Mordenkainen and Robilar need to get the MacGuffin, but something's stopping them, they can't go down themselves, yadda yadda. So they put together a raiding party (the action heroes) and plan an elaborate, multi-level heist in the Greyhawk dungeons.
I'm figuring you would go with a party of mostly veteran dungeon delvers. A dwarven fighter, an elven ranger (a F/MU would be more appropriate, but elves have the bow thing), a cleric of St. Cuthbert, a wizard who used to be Mordenkainen's apprentice. Make the elf a woman, and have the MU be Baklunish so it's not painfully white and male. And then you add a thief as the new character they explain everything to, I'm picturing a young female ingenue type who surprises us the first time she makes a backstab.
And then after the planning phase, possibly with a couple side quests to get useful items, they bust into the dungeon and Castle Greyhawk becomes the star. You have a pool of infinite snakes, a weird garden, a massive underground lake with a kraken, a museum, a machine level, there's a level full of dragons, pretty much whatever you need for a whole bunch of great action set pieces. Everybody gets a chance to show off, including turning undead and casting Fireball, and there are showdowns with some iconic monsters (I'd feature: kobolds, undead, trolls, beholder, mimic, owlbear). At the end they get to the level with the MacGuffin, but wind up having to chase someone through some of the Demi's-planes to do it (Isle of the Ape, Dungeonland making cameos). Add a twist where the plan falls apart and in the very end it takes some magical chicanery just to get out alive.
You sell it as high fantasy meets ultra stylized heist, Lord of the Rings plus Inception. Rollicking action going down the weird levels of a megadungeon. That's what a D&D movie should be, IMO, not some bloated fantasy epic.
Oh, and the name? Greyhawk.