Most sequels make a point of upping the ante over their predecessors; filmmakers naturally assume viewers want some form of compensation for a sequel's inherent lack of originality or novelty. The makers of Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath Of The Dragon God apparently took the make-it-bigger formula to heart, sort of: Their sequel to 2000's misbegotten fantasy Dungeons & Dragons manages to be even more turgid, grating, artificial, and dull than the original.

Dungeons & Dragons' single returning cast member, second-banana baddie Bruce Payne, takes up main-villain duties: Having been cursed into monstrous undeath for a century, he's out for revenge on—well, nobody, since his enemies from movie #1 are presumably long-dead. But he's out to raze their kingdom, which has mysteriously gone from a shining fantasy metropolis to a series of grubby proto-medieval villages out of Xena: Warrior Princess. His plot involves a dark orb of evil and a sleeping dragon; after a tortured setup full of explanation for non-D&D players and in-joke name-dropping for the hardcore fans, a party of heroes—including, natch, a barbarian, an elf wizard, a cleric, and a rogue—heads off to stop him.


The original Dungeons & Dragons was an abysmal, laughable film, but it at least had its director's enthusiasm and its cast's frothing excesses going for it, and it managed unintentional chuckles where it couldn't pull off excitement. By contrast, Wrath Of The Dragon God is a humorless slog, with the principals dragging dutifully from battle to battle amid awkward character development and eye-rolling dialogue like "You transgress into the necropolis of Klaxx the Malign!" When the actors aren't fighting CGI monsters, they seem half-awake. Viewers may not even manage that.

Key features: A commentary "Featuring Wizards Of The Coast D&D Special Projects Manager Ed Stark and Other D&D Players." No, seriously.