DVD Review – Dudes & Dragons
Category : DVD Review
It’s too easy & effortless to make a spoof, which is why they’re so often terrible. No original ideas are necessary, no original comedy, all that’s required is to poke fun at obvious flaws or all-too-typical genre features. It takes work to make any movie, sure, but spoof isn’t exactly farce, and it isn’t exactly challenging either. Perhaps that’s why, when Dudes & Dragons works, it’s extra surprising. Toeing the line between ridicule & intelligent commentary is difficult, but this film manages to find that wobbly balance somewhere in the middle where comedy can actually work. Though it’s barely been seen and probably won’t be remembered past a few reviews, Ds&Ds is still a fun-spirited and shockingly successful attempt at spoof humor, a movie that I challenge fantasy fans not to enjoy.
In this mystical, fictional, magical land where our story takes place, love is deadly. There have always been fantastic beasts roaming the world, some of which make good sport for heroes, mercenaries, and do-gooders, some of which are of the more dangerous variety. But now a new threat has arrived on the scene, one that threatens to extinguish love from our hearts forever. A special dragon seems to have a nose for romance, killing in broad daylight anyone who has the audacity to show affection for another, making rescuing damsels & sweeping them lovingly off their feet somewhat impossible. Where this dragon comes from, why it does what it does, and how it can be stopped are complete mysteries, but someone had better find out soon.
And that someone will be the brave, young Camilian. Recently, this dramatic lordling has fallen in love with an elven girl of the forest. However, their union cannot be, partly because of the love-eating dragon and partly because Camilian can’t marry the bride he chooses until his elder brother Ramicus does the same. So Cam seeks out Ram and attempts to convince him to give up the bachelor life. But while the two are together, they receive a message from the beautiful Ennogard, who is being held captive by the evil sorcerer Lord Tensley. He has released the dragon on the land after being spurned by Ennogard, vowing to delete romance from the world once & for all. The brothers must unite, along with two faithful companions, and destroy this threat before it’s too late.
It was hard to keep track of the number of films & film genres that Dudes & Dragons spoofed, and for two distinct reasons. The first was, simply, it made fun of a lot of movies. But the second was that it teased them in a sometimes subtle way, or at least an unexpected way, making much of the humor either vague or surprising. Lord of the Rings might have been the most obvious mockery, but other films made quick cameos: Star Wars, 300, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and even The Princess Bride. No classic was safe from the biting whip if this film’s repartee! No genre plot hole was left unexposed & shamed! Ok, it wasn’t that clever, but at the very least, Ds&Ds wasn’t a cheap copycat of the dozen other spoof specials we’ve seen before. It was slightly original, slightly out of left field, and never seemed like it disdained the work that an actual movie requires to be even passable.
This film was actually much more than passable; it was pretty funny. Not a rave review perhaps, but from this style, how much higher of a ceiling could you really be expecting? Apart from the spoof element, the movie itself was humorous & likeable, something not every comedy can boast. From the Orc who was actually nice to the manservant who was Samwise cloned, each character had a unique brand of humor and a special role to play. No one stood out as the only good thing, they all blended together to make a comical ensemble. Luke Perry even made a brief appearance before being eaten; we don’t know why, it didn’t make any sense, but it was funny nonetheless. The weakest actor was probably Adam Johnson as Ramicus, his scenes feeling the most forced. But give credit to Maclain Nelson, who wrote, directed, and starred in this entertaining bit of fantasy fluff.
Video – With an aspect ratio of 16×9 1.78 FF, the video quality is pretty poor, but cleverly concealed. The cinematographer used a lot of the standard and oft relied upon fantasy sun burst & oversaturated background. In other words, they clouded the visuals with color and hoped you didn’t notice that the actual picture quality was fairly bad. And almost the entire thing was done in front of a green screen anyway. ‘A’ for effort, and many films that have come before have attempted the same, so I can’t fault them too much.
Audio – The disc was done in English 5.1 Dolby Digital with an option of English SDH subtitles. That’s it as far as the sound menu goes, and there’s really not that much more to talk about concerning the audio either. It was fine, with a epic feel to the music and a passable balance to the sound.
Extras – There are actually quite a few special features on the DVD for those thirsty for more. Bloopers – 3 minutes – an upbeat blend of gag reel antics. Behind-the-Scenes Footage – 4 minutes – a look at the green screen sound stage and various scenes played out there. Deleted Scenes – 2.5 minutes – one small deleted scene and one small extension on an existing one. Visual Effects Featurette – 5 minutes – a peak at how the visuals were lain over the actual background.
Recommended. From the opening sequence, there’s a pervasive feeling that the team who came together to create Dudes & Dragons had an enviable amount of fun doing it. Perhaps that aids in making the spoofing seem smarter, the comedy seem crisper, and the characters seem more lovable. Perhaps that makes the whole film better than it should be, because it is exactly that. I laughed more than I has thought I would, was entertained by the farce far more than I anticipated, and came away liking this movie despite its silly setup. Of course you’ll need to forgive a good bit, but here’s a film that doesn’t take itself seriously and always keeps laughter as the ultimate goal. The video is cheap & fantasy-based, the audio is fine, and there are actually a good many extras on the disc. Looking for some light viewing with surprising humor? Look no further.
☆ ☆ ☆ – Content
☆ ☆ ☆ – Video
☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio
☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras
☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay