The undead wizard Damodar obtains possession of a magical orb that has the power to restore his human form again, and to awaken an ancient dragon god. With the dragon’s help he seeks to destroy the kingdom of Izmir. Damodar’s machinations are noticed by Lord Berek of Izmir and his wife Melora, a wizard. Melora is cursed by Damodar, and slowly turns into an undead creature. A party of heroes is assembled with the task to retrieve the orb, defeat Damodar, and find a way to heal Melora.
After the disaster that was the first Dungeons and Dragons movie, a good effort had to be made to redeem the franchise with the sequel Wrath of the Dragon God. Filmed with a lower, but still decent budget, the movie utilized the beautiful landscape of Lithuania and a real castle as a backdrop for the story. Wrath of the Dragon God was followed by another sequel a few years later, which also was a decent affair (you can check our review here).
Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a popular table-top role-playing game, and the D&D Universe is a hyperbole of the already highly epic Lord of the Rings saga. This exaggerated approach to epic fantasy is also visible in many scenes in the movie, which may occasionally be confusing at best for people who are not familiar with D&D, and slightly irritating at worst. Especially the dialogues involving the application of magic (which takes up a fairly large part of the story) sometimes sound like the worst techno-babble from Star Trek. It’s all very faithful to the game, though, and it’s not really important to understand or pay attention to everything being said to follow the relatively simple plot.
One thing that is also in line with the spirit of the game is that the heroes are constantly confronted with various tasks and puzzles. Especially Damodar’s castle looks like a giant escape room with traps and contraptions that no one in their right mind would use for self-defense. Some of the set pieces are also a bit too cliched for a movie from 2005, and look more like the interior of a Halloween store than a dungeon.
Wrath of the Dragon God would be a decent, but forgettable movie if it did not have some good action to keep it’s viewer’s attention. And it certainly delivers satisfactorily at this front. Melee and magic combat occurs frequently, and the fights are staged professionally. There’s a nice variety of monsters, we get zombies, ghouls, harpies, killer plants and of course dragons! CGI are used frequently, especially for the monsters, and the animations look surprisingly well done for a movie done with such a modest budget in 2005. The only let-down is the actual final boss, maybe money ran out to work this sequence out properly. But otherwise, there’s nothing to complain, and the final battle is an appropriate climax with a truly epic vibe.
Featuring no well-known actors other than Bruce Payne, everyone gives a decent performance, with no embarrassing moments in the acting department. The only issue is actually Bruce Payne’s role, who for the most part of the movie sits on his throne and puts on one evil grimace after the other. He undoubtedly has the perfect face to do this, and this earned him plenty of villain roles throughout his career. But in this movie he is not really given an opportunity to get more out of his character.
Wrath of the Dragon God is a worthy representative from the B-tier of the high fantasy genre. It’s simple, harmless fun that is faithful to the spirit of the Dungeons and Dragons game.