Reviews of 'Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight DVD'
Reviews of 'Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight DVD'
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Well, just got done watching it and loved it. As any movie there were things I loved and things I would have done different. But being a true fan that I am, I was like a little kid while watching it and kept an open mind vs. all the reviews.
There were some parts of the books that I would have liked to see added. But I understood the budget and the time window of the film. This leaves something for the viewer of the movie; can you guess what it is? Read the books, 8 out of 10 times the book to a movie is better. Except when you got +100 mill budget like Gerrin stated in his review and the eye candy is just unreal. Now some parts were a little choppy and when they meet the Forestmaster it seemed a little blurry. Again not big issues, I seen first films to a trilogy not up to par and come around in the next film. Big thing that caught my eye was the draconians. They seem to fit in with the 2D only in a few scenes. I think they should have been done in 2D to make those parts not so awkward. Last con is the DVD should have had some more features, scene selection, behind the scenes and maybe an interview with Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
I liked the voices of all the cast, hope they all return if we get Dragons of Winter Night. Tanis was well done, you looked upon him as a leader, mission accomplished. Tas was done well too. I almost started singing with him when he went to go scout ahead into the fog. I am not a Kender fan. Some of the backgrounds where great, many scenes I could call out to myself and know where they where at. Very well done. Now the plus in 3D, I loved the dragons, matched Larry Elmore's dragons to a T. They flowed great for the most part, but added to the movie for me (dragon fan). Now if this was a live-action film like Lord of the Rings, then I would want to see more life-like dragons. But this was fine. Plus seeing Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman in the Inn of the Last Home was a kick for a Dragonlance fan. Music set the mood and was not overpowering.
All and all, this is a great movie for the resources it had. It told the story in a manner that my kids could watch. If it was a full length Lord of the Rings style, I would want to see the darker side of the Dragonarmies, gore and other things that my kids would have to wait to watch. But it is animation and is set so a wide age range can view, much like the animated Hobbit and so forth. I remember as a kid watching them and thought the world of them. Now that I am older they do not have the same magic they once did. But, you think Peter Jackson watched those as a kid? I would bet he did....
I enjoyed it and it is worth the money I paid. I will support the film and get the soundtrack hoping the coin goes towards the next film. Dragonlance fans are lucky we even got a film, in my opinion.
The movie in some ways was a classic. Its animation reminded me of the style used in the Dragonlance Comic book series and to me was a clever tie in between the two franchises. The 2D art and 3D art mixes were an interesting idea but not always a very effective idea throughout the movie. At times they appeared to be glitches between the two animations. Overall the animation is what people should expect for a film that was low budget. It carries forward the proud traditions of other novels that were turned into animated movies, such as the Lord of the Rings animated movies.
The storyline was based on the Dragonlance novel; Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and while the main story idea was still presented to the audience many fans of the novel will notice differences between the two. The movie is around 90 minutes and compresses 300+ pages into the story. To do this some parts of the novel had to be changed to help the story flow forward. While fans would have loved to see every scene of the book translated into the movie, it is not feasible.
The story that is presented is a straight forward storyline with few twists or turns. A group of adventures return to their old haunt to meet again and discuss their findings after five years apart. In their initial meeting they discover their hometown overrun by goblins and meet a pair of strangers holding a blue crystal staff. They then are chased out of the town and set off in search for the Gods of old. Along the way they have several small adventures that eclipse into one larger adventure.
The ending of the movie is a quite a shock to fans of the novels as this part of the movie has been changed to meet time requirements and to nicely wrap up the tale if the second movie doesn't happen. Even though it wraps it up, it does leave enough or a string dangling for its viewers to wonder what happens to these characters following the harrowing escape.
The voice acting in the movie was pleasantly surprisingly good. There was little here that was wrong and characters seemed to be presented in ways that were considered proper for their character. The whispering voice of Raistlin (Sutherland) is a dream come true for several Dragonlance fans, and one can feel the command of respect that comes for the voice of Goldmoon (Lawless).
Overall the movie was a great first attempt into the film industry. This installment is sure to entertain most fans of the novels, if they can judge the movie as its own piece of work rather then against other animated movies. The acting is superb, the animation typical to the budget, and storyline follows the book in many cases but due to time constraints is forced to tie things together.
I give this movie 3.5 stars out of 5. A great first movie of the franchise would love to see more.
Reviewer: Mel Odom
I started playing Dungeons & Dragons when I was in college. I found the game by accident while shopping through a hobby store, became intrigued, and picked it up. Another year and a half passed before I found a couple of guys in college to play it with. Then Larry, Mike, and I would spend Friday nights and Saturdays knocking down doors in lost castles and abandoned dungeons everywhere we found them.
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman put the fiction side of Dungeon & Dragons' world of Dragonlance on the bestseller map in 1984 with the publication of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Legend has it the novels actually sprang from a game played by the authors.
The DVD Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight is a straight-to-DVD release that is the first of hopefully more adventures to come. Like the novel of the same name, the DVD adventure concerns itself with a group of adventurers who are out to prove that the gods haven't left the world entirely and do still care about the elves, dwarves, humans, kender, and others that live in it.
Tanis the Half-Elf (voiced by Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum) is the group's leader, and he's on his way back to Solace, the village he called home five years ago. Along the way, he meets up with his old friends Flint Fireforge (Fred Tatasciore) and Tasselhoff Burrfoot (Jason Marsden).
I watched the movie with my ten-year-old and he immediately caught onto the characters and the long friendship that existed between them. The repartee is clever and simple, and pulled my son and I right into the movie. Just a few minutes into the film, the screen was suddenly alive with sword fighting as a group of goblins tried to beat up our heroes. I have to admit, this kind of action was welcome - and it was bloodless for the sword slinging that was going on.
Given that the film only has an hour and a half to tell the nearly 400-page book's story, the pacing is headlong. The characters are all set up in Solace as Raistlin (24's Keifer Sutherland, who must be some kind of D&D fan to do a direct-to-DVD film), Caramon (Rino Romano of Fox Network's The Batman), and Sturm Brightblade (Marc Worden) are all introduced in short order. The friendship is apparent, as well as the various tensions that were created in the Dragonlance series. Sturm doesn't trust Raistlin; Caramon is simple-minded and protective of Raistlin; Raistlin is selfish and somewhat power-hungry; Tasselhoff is a kleptomaniac; Flint is a grouch; and Tanis is torn between his two heritages. The story swings swiftly into high gear.
In this world, when the gods left, they also took the power of the clerics away. Those of us who've played D&D had to wonder where any truly adventurous dungeon-crawler would be without a handy cleric to heal him after he's stuck his head into the wrong room. Having a D&D world without the ability to get healed is, well, dangerous, to say the least.
Two strangers are also in town, and it's a familiar plot twist that has sent many an adventurer scurrying for supplies and the shortest way out of town. Riverwind (Phil Lamarr) and Goldmoon (Lucy Lawless of Xena) are there with the mysterious blue crystal staff of healing that the villains are searching for. While arguing with a local bully, Caramon ends up throwing the man into the fireplace. Tasselhoff inadvertently uses the staff to heal the man.
Realizing the town is full of enemies and that the staff is important, Tanis marshals the others to get Riverwind and Goldmoon out of town. Their new objective is to find out if the gods have returned. The adventure is up and running at a breakneck gallop.
There isn't any deep meaning or thought behind Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Wicked villains pursue our heroes at every corner, and a lot of fighting and magic wielding ensues. There's even healing once the power of the blue crystal staff is discovered!
My son and I sat mesmerized throughout the action as the characters explored a world I knew from adventures of my own, while he's just getting to know them. He'd just asked for (and gotten) the basic Dungeons & Dragons set, so he was totally pumped to see it in action. I was surprised to see how much he knew about the gaming system and the world after reading through the Player's Handbook 3.5 Edition I let him borrow as well. He even knew the monsters from the Monster Handbook.
The animation is still a little cartoony for today's audience, but I was okay with it. The live-action Dungeons & Dragons movies didn't fare so well, and this one appears to be geared for the younger crowd. The end product is a mixture of animation and 3D computer generation that looked cool at times and jarring at others. The mix wasn't always seamless.
However, I could tell the voice actors were having a blast. I could close my eyes and imagine them all gathered around a table rolling the dice against insurmountable odds to see if they survived to fight again or if they required a visit from the cleric. All of them had to have been players at one time or another.
Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight isn't a film that's going to leave much of a ripple in the mass of filmgoers that stream into theaters or purchase DVDs, but for those of us who are dyed-in-the-wool D&D fans, the movie hits a sweet spot. It combines the world of D&D and the story of one of the best-known novels in those worlds.
I had a lot of fun with the movie. It played the characters from the novels fairly and moved along at a fast clip throughout its entirety. The attention to gameplay rules was solid, and the dialogue was consistently informative and entertaining. The artwork was a little loose and cartoony at times, but the world and the action was well rendered.
I can only hope that new DVDs will be forthcoming, because this one just begins to tell the story. In fact, it even gives watchers something of a cliffhanger by showing Kitiara in the middle of evil doings. If you're a fantasy lover, this is the kind of movie you can sit down to with your kids, enjoy a big bowl of popcorn, and regale them with all the stories of when you fought dragons and the dice were with you!
Reviewer: Morten Brattbakk
Dragonlance is about friendship. It is only fitting, then, that I saw this movie with Larris, a good friend who I wouldn't have met if it hadn't been for Dragonlance and alt.fan.dragonlance. I received the movie in the mail today. I opened it, already knowing the DVD cover is not particularly good. Tanis, Goldmoon and Raistlin are not given the serious treatment that we would expect from earlier portrayals in both novels and art. The only good thing is that the Dragonlance logo is without the silly dragon.
With more than just a little fanfare, we inserted the DVD, preparing ourselves for the worst. The negative buzz hadn't escaped me, neither had the youtube trailer, so my expectations were very, very low. And that was a good thing, because that meant that I, at first, actually enjoyed this movie more than I otherwise would have... and more than it deserved.
I managed to enjoy the first part of the movie quite a lot. The script was a good adaptation of the novel, leaving the most important things in. It also portrayed the characters very well. I guess to those not familiar to the books the characters would seem flat and one- dimensional. To me, it was like revisiting old friends (it's been many years since last I read the books), I already knew the characters and could enjoy their portrayal here. The writer had inserted some new dialog that for the most part nailed the characters as I knew them, that was an aspect of the script I found enjoyable. There was also the all-important attention to detail that I liked. For example, Raistlin phrased spells just like in the book, and there were even some visual details to appreciate (such as the platinum dragon head on Fizban's staff). The visual portrayal of Solace and the Inn of the Last Home was familiar yet new (as it should be when you see a visualisation of a work you are a fan of) and brought a smile to my face.
The acting, and casting, was very uneven. Raistlin and Goldmoon were good, so was, to a certain degree, Flint. Tanis was not very good, and Tasslehoff was horrible, he wasn't even close to sounding like the character as I know him. They both seemed to be taken straight out of contemporary American movies, particularly Tasslehoff who sounded like an annoying character from a college movie. Their accents, and many of Tasslehoff's lines, weren't suited to a fantasy setting at all. However, the interaction between Tanis and Riverwind was very good, giving us a deeper sense of their relationship.
To put it mildly, the visuals left something to be desired. Most character concepts were OK, so was the coloring. But the animation was so poor it hindered my ability to fully enjoy this movie. The reason for this is that it was so choppy and static that it felt more like watching a slide show than watching the people and creatures of Krynn moving. This was particularly evident in the fight scenes, which did not work very well. And when you don't really get the sense of movement, something is very much lacking from what should be a moving visualization of Dragonlance.
But as I said, I did enjoy this "slide show" at the beginning. It did, however, take a very wrong turn, and did wrong even the things that it up to that point had done right. Either during or after Darken Wood (I would say during because of the silly vines on the Forest Master), the script turned into a very poor adaption of the book. It skipped way too many important scenes. Xak Tsaroth was glossed over in a way that it shouldn't have been. The return to Solace, the Sla-Mori, and several things in Pax Tharkas (such as Tas and Fizban looking at the murals) were missing. Suddenly, the movie was way too busy getting to the end of the book, and it suffered considerably because of this. No doubt the movie would have been much, much better if it had covered only the first half the book.
Visually, it also got a lot less interesting. While Solace was portrayed relatively well, Xak Tsaroth was not. There was no sunken city, no cavern, just a couple of doors, corridors and a dragon hoard. Qualinesti was not recognizable at all, where was the Tower of the Sun, the marble towers and the bridges surrounding the city? It could have been any standard forest elf village. Pax Tharkas was recognizable, but not exactly visually stunning. It was no more evocative than the sketches found in DL2 and the Atlas. This movie failed to present the fantastic locations of the book visually. There was absolutely no sense of Xak Tsaroth, Qualinesti or the Sla-Mori. Solace and the poorly done Pax Tharkas were the only locations in the movie that were truly unique to Krynn. And for a Dragonlance movie, even one with poor animation, that is not even close to good enough, particularly considering the fantastic source material found in the modules, the Atlas and Art of Dragonlance in addition to the novel itself.
The ending left a lot to be desired, of course. The plot took turns that were simply horrible, I would guess due to interference from studio suits. Fizban rising up to Takhisis, defeating her, what was that about? Are the viewers of this movie to stupid to figure out that a blow against Verminaard is a blow against Takhisis. The He-Man "you may have defeated me this time Paladine, but I SHALL RETURN!" moment was excruciating. (Even though it could be argued that it fit the animation style well...) And was the Kitiara scene really necessary?
Another thing I didn't like was Fizban's speech about faith. Have faith in the good gods, if you don't have faith the Queen of Darkness will take you. This is a theme so simplistic that it is nothing but silly. You could even argue against it, the only way to fight Takhisis is with faith, that is believing things without evidence? The novel's message about the return of the gods and fighting evil was much more nuanced, complex and sophisticated, and should not have been replaced with this.
The Dragonlance movie was a movie that was enjoyable at first, low expectations made me forgive its flaws while I enjoyed the decent adaption and seeing old friends in a slightly new way, and get new visual impressions of the world of Krynn. But it outwore its welcome as its virtues went away, and its flaws became way too many and way too obvious.
The job of a reviewer is to try and present an objective critique of his subject. With a movie like Dragonlance, it isn't easy. I have been reading these books for over a decade; I laughed, cried, and rejoiced with these characters; I have shared in their fears and in their triumphs. Thus, an objective review is easier said than done. Nevertheless, I have tried to be as objective as possible while sharing my thoughts on Dragons of Autumn Twilight the movie.
Animation: The draconians and dragons don't look very good. I wanted to moan every time they were on screen, and I didn't think the mix of the animation types worked. When the Companions fought the draconians, I laughed when the draconian leapt on Tanis and started hitting him. Given the poor quality of the CGI animation, I think they would have been better off just going with the 2d for the whole film. Also, there are some editing mistakes in the film that made me whince (e.g. Sturm in the first fight with the draconians, they use the same clip of animation twice). Scene transitions throughout the movie are often terrible, abrupt, and look like something done on PowerPoint.
Sound: Pretty good voice acting. I know that some people have expressed disappointment with Kiefer Sutherland, but whether or not he sounded like Raistlin, I thought he gave the best performance. Good acting is more important to me than whether or not Sutherland sounded sick enough. Michael Rosenbaum (Tanis), Jason Marsden (Tas), Marc Worden (Sturm), Lucy Lawless (Goldmoon), and Phil LaMarr (Riverwind) were all great. The rest of the cast ranges from weak to descent, with the villains generally being too over the top to be enjoyable. I loved the music, but sometimes the cues didn't seem quite right (e.g. the escape from prison wagons).
Story Adaptation: Many people will complain that their favorite scenes were left out, and I understand that sentiment; however, if anything, the writers should have cut more out. Trying to cram 400 pages of book into a 90 minute movie is an impossible task, and I think that they would have been better off cutting even more out for the sake of slowing down the movie pace. The dialogue often sounds rushed, such as when Raistlin is saying farewell to Bupa. I think the first half of the movie is a pretty strong adaptation, but once Onyx is killed the adaptation goes down hill. If the movie is only 90 minutes long because they couldn't afford to make a longer movie, then c'est la vie that is just the way it is; however, if the length of the movie was assigned because the producers didn't think people would be willing to sit down for a 2 and a half hour long cartoon, then I think they made a serious error in judgement. I would have been more than happy for a longer film. In the worst case scenario, if I got tired while watching the film, I could always stop midway and finish the rest later.
To fit the story into the small time frame of 90 minutes, the writers had to change some of the story up and this meant changing the dialogue sometimes. Unfortunately, the dialogue that isn't from the books is usually pretty terrible. I wanted to mute the TV during the dialogue between Verminard and Tanis in the final fight scene. I would also argue that the writers made too many unnecessary changes in that final fight with Verminard.
DVD Features: No commentary track. No cast interviews or interviews with any of the production team. The only two extras are pretty sad. I haven't taken the time to look for easter eggs, but I'm not holding my breath. This movie is much cheaper than the standard DVD, but I would have gladly paid more for the sake of some descent bonus features.
The critic in me, the part that is trying to be objective, realizes that this movie wasn't well done and has a lot of problems. That being said, I had a lot of fun watching the movie, and I got a real kick out of seeing the companions on screen. I still hope they can produce Winters Night and Spring Dawning in spite of all the problems. I stand by my criticisms, and I am giving the movie a negative review, but at the same time I couldn't help but enjoy myself. This movie is definitely going in the guilty pleasure column.
Well, since I just finished watching the new DVD, I thought it might be best if I give my two cents along with every other person out there.
Who am I to comment?
Well, no one really. I'm a soldier of the royal Australian armoured corps and have been for 6 years, so I'm a regular bloke who is a jack of a few things and far from being a master at any. I draw as some will know and I've even written a book not a very good one but I tried I have also read Dragonlance since I was old enough to read dragons of the autumn twilight being the first book I ever read. so that's my back ground nothing special like a graphic designer or animator so my opinion wont be as grand as some.
Why I bothered?
Really, why did I bother watching it after I read the posts of people who had watched it before me well the answer is simple, Dragonlance I watched it because it was Dragonlance a passion of mine since before some people on this forum were born though not all there are a lot of people older than me I'm a spring chicken compared to some.
So should a person watch this movie even though its been criticized to the hilt? YES cause its Dragonlance if your a fan you will buy this movie though this isn't the only reason...
What I rated the movie?
I rated the movie 4 out of 5 glitter covered stars. I was unsure how the animation would go and I've read people say it was like He-Man and I think people wanted to see sailor moon. I watched this with my wife and we both agreed the old school animation was well suited for this movie with great water coloured back grounds it was like watching the cartoons of eighties. I liked it and I realize some wont but this is my review.
Here I was not a fan of the movie I liked the 3d stuff but hated it blended into the movie I saw Beowulf and was not really a fan mainly because they changed the saga so much but to me it was like a computer game not a movie. So while I would be fine to slay those computer animated draconians on the Xbox I wasn't a fan of having them being slain by animated heroes.
Very well done music can make or break a movie if any ones seen the Sharps series they will have been disappointed by the electric guitar that really ruins the music score.
Characters and Voices
Okay I see were a lot of people hated Raistlin's voice yes he seemed as though he really just talked his way along but I didn't really mind it except he could have raised his voice a little for the casting of spells and put some effort in it.
I really liked all the other voices Tas' voice is exactly as I imagined it.
Okay in see this is were people won't enjoy the movie as much as the book as it isn't word for word or scene for scene but that's similar to the comic you cant have movie the same as the book unless you are going to be there all day watching it. lord of the rings is the best sample of this I can find it cuts characters completely out some of them key people and replaces some with characters that aren't even in that scene.
Though I did find a flaw in this the green stone man is not a good character to be missing.
Things I didn't like
These are just small things I didn't agree with.
But the ruins of Goldmoon's village look like the ruins of ancient Greece they are supposed to be plains people their village should not look like Athens.
The Elven city made of trees I though it was made of stone since flint when there to build for them and the tree houses were impractical you couldn't even fit in there the tower of the sun should have been a center piece of the movie I was really disappointed here. Tanis sword I really wanted him to find the sword its important in my mind he has it, maybe not for now but for the war of souls (that's thinking far ahead). Green stone man is very important to have I ask were is he maybe I missed him.
I'm not going to ruin the movie for others by saying how some things were changed from the book because they do not bother me I wasn't expecting the word for word account. what I think could have improved this movie is to make it longer to fit some scenes I would have liked to see in there like Tanis finding his sword and more gully dwarf talking. the back grounds I mentioned really not fitting in to the story and Raistlin's voice putting some more oomph in his spells.
I saw Cloverfield last night and that was a waste of 30 bucks but I would have paid 30 bucks to take my missus to dragonlance had it come out at the movies. it was better than the D&D movies and better than Eragon sure it was a lord of the rings rival but I enjoyed the animation as it was similar to that of which I grew up with as well as similar to Dethklok from Metalopcalypse.
Of cause you can ignore my review and read those who were expecting Lord of the rings style movies. I would have loved a live action movie but at least we got a movie its a start who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Reviewer: Tracy Hickman
Tentative First Steps in a Greater Journey
Dragonlance is a journey ... and was from the beginning.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight was and remains a first in so many ways: it was the first novel together for Margaret and me, it was the first attempt at doing a classic fantasy story for a game setting, and the first book publication for TSR. Looking back on it now, after twenty years of polishing our writing, that first book looks rough and imperfect ... but it was the first step down a road that lead us to great wonders. Flawed as it appears now ... it is deservedly beloved.
Since before the publication of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, we have seen Dragonlance in cinematic terms. We wrote the books visualizing them as movies and dreamed that one day, our visions would be realized on film.
Now, thanks to Paramount Pictures and Epic Entertainment, that dream has been realized and with it, we take our first step down the new road of Dragonlance films.
Recently, Paramount sent to Margaret and me a copy of the film on DVD so that we could preview the final cut. It is quite a thrill watching our characters come to life and hearing the familiar story begin anew. Michael Rosenbaum and Fred Tataciore bring life to the opening scene on their way to meet their friends in Solace. The voice casting in this film is phenomenal. Lucy Lawless gives Goldmoon wonderful depth and even newcomer Caroline Gelbert brings a freshness to Laurana that is breathtaking. The heart of Dragonlance has always been its characters, and the movie shines especially in two of the stories most intriguing personalities, Tasslehoff and Raistlin ... each brought vividly alive by the incredible talents of Jason Marsden and Keiffer Sutherland.
Before our family started our little preview, I presented our audience with a little challenge: to find all the scenes where I can be found in the movie - kind of a personal 'Where's Waldo'.
As for finding me in the film ... well, you'll just have to see for yourself.
Does this film have flaws—absolutely. While the soundtrack is Oscar-worthy and the voice talent is unquestionably perfect, and Will Mineou's direction and art are beautiful, the animation itself is less than I would have hoped it to be. The style is unfortunately inconsistent from shot to shot. Interestingly, the mix of CGI with traditional cell animation worked quite well ... but it was the graphic inconsistencies between cell animation segments that I found problematic. Several sequences used post animation effects over still-motion in lieu of honest animation. My son, Curtis, is a professional After Effects artist as well as a professional magician. As he pointed out, there are only so many times in a piece you can use the same expedient short-cut before the audience begins to see the trick being played. The movie has a major picture sound to which the visuals struggle to keep up.
Dragonlance fans will probably also be shocked to hear my second criticism: I believe including the entire first book in the movie was a mistake. Both the screenwriter and I argued against putting all of Dragons of Autumn Twilight in the first film ... believing that the film should portray essentially the first half of the book and finish with 'Solace is burning.' But the 'powers that be' adamantly required that the entire book be portrayed. George Strayton did a masterful job of accomplishing that goal and his script is undeniably brilliant - but I still believe the film's structure suffers from the enforced requirement of including the entire novel.
That being said, I am delighted with Dragons of Autumn Twilight and find myself liking it even more with each subsequent viewing. It is the first dragonlance movie and, as such, shares the heritage of tentative first steps ... but in those steps opens up a new road of films before us. 'Lord of the Rings' was, after all, first a Ralph Bakshi cartoon.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight is not a destination ... it is the opening of a door and the beginning of a journey. Pop the popcorn, grab your hoopak and come with us down a new road with old friends.
Reviewer: Veruna Spellcaster
The Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends make for a magnificent adventure tale. The Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight animated movie should be just as great, right? Well, it would be quite difficult to replicate, as this first movie shows us.
As Tracy Hickman said in his review, the voice acting is done very well. With the exception, I believe, of Caramon (who doesn't sound like he could smash two goblins heads together and instantly kill them). Also, the soundtrack matches the feeling of the adventure. However, given that the book is over 400 pages long, the movie should have been longer than 90 minutes. In the beginning the movie was giving enough detail to know exactly what was happening. Towards the middle everything seemed to be cut short and Caramon would run up and say, "Oh good, finally some food!" then onto the next scene. Since I have read the books, I knew what was going on, while my sister did not. The characters visit so many places and they just didn't bring any of them to life in the movie. I was surprised at how small Raistlin's role was in the movie. There was hardly any character development, some of the characters seemed to only have a few lines!
I always envisioned the animated movie for Dragons of Autumn Twilight to take on the feel of Larry Elmore's work. However, the character design was done well, and the CGI of the dragons and draconians was also good. But, they didn't seem to go well together. I had to laugh at some parts where the animation seemed to stick or not fit where it was. Other parts, I had to admire it.
I rate it at 3 stars out of 5. Overall, I wish it had been longer so they could have gone into more detail with Gilthanas, Laurana, Raistlin... Well, pretty much all of the characters. The movie started off well and Tasslehoff's character made everything better. If you've read the books, which since you are here on the Nexus you certainly have, you will enjoy the movie. I did and I will watch it again, but I have much higher hopes for the ones to come!
Reviewer: Weldon Chen
Well, I just saw the Dragonlance movie three times. It's about 11:30 PM for me. Let's begin.
By now, a lot of you might have already started reading reviews from newbies to the forum, as well as elders, and such. And a lot of it is emotional, and it's really hard for people to get a decent sense of the picture. I hope this review will give everyone a better insight on their choices for getting The Dragonlance Movie.
Let me start out with my qualifications. I've been a computer animator for about 6 months in the place called Pixar. So you can say I might know something about animation. Also, I've been a fan since 1985, when I was in middle school and I've been waiting that long for a movie about the Chronicles. Likewise, I've been on the Whitestone Council with Trampas and the Dragonlance Nexus, and I've helped Kranar with the Lexicon. I've also been credited with some works produced by Sovereign Press and Margaret Weis Productions. And I know I have personally read the Chronicles about 9 times (possibly more). So, I know my Dragonlance and I know animation.
So, let's begin my review of the movie. As you can tell, I am excited about seeing the movie. And I love dragonlance so much I'll be rewatching the movie I'll be rereading the books. However, I will say that I think many fans, and newcomers will probably dislike the movie.
Animation: Everyone's talked about it, for good or for ill. So let's get technical. In my opinion, the animation is not the best. The key reason is keylining and frame rate. This is what separates the shoe string budget and the multi-million dollar budget. It is literally taking the time to draw in-between artwork, so that key scenes blend smoothly. That's animation. The character designs for everyone are very good. They look like their characters. However, I think animation fans will note right away that the animation, lip movement, and panning is choppy. This is definitely noticeable on a 1080p 50" plasma TV. On 25" 300x200 normal TV, the animation will look a bit smoother. Alas, in today's American modern tech, it will be choppy. The animation does have blood. But honestly, do swords and maces have to come out of the body nice and clean? The second half does look a lot better. If I were to speculate, my gut feeling is that at some point, the first half's animation was done. However, there was a change where more 2D was mandated. My gut tells me that the key animation for the 1st half scrapped because it probably wasn't needed. Therefore when more 2d Animation was needed, drawing in-betweeners is nearly impossible without the key cells, and you get the choppy animation as a result. The second half, with the mandate for more 2D means key animation was kept and in-betweeners could be drawn. The end result is better 2D animation in the second half.
Now for the 3D, I'm going to be a bit nitpicky. After all, I did work at Pixar so I'm entitled. Overall, the draconians and the dragons look realistic. Their armor and scales are really well done. However, the 3D detail is too mismatched with the 2d animation. Sturm's armor does not match well with the finely detailed chainmail of a draconian. And when the draconians turn to stone? Uggg. You can't make out the stone. It becomes a large blob of
grey stone. Clearly the issue is that TOONZ doesn't have a texture specialist, who can change the texture frame by frame to a stone statue. In my mind, I think TOONZ tech is as good as your standard PS2 videogame company which might be top of the line in India, but it's well before CG animation of PS3/xbox360/Pixar/Dreamworks animation.
Pacing: The story is fast. In only 90 minutes the story has to cover the meeting, escape from solace, Meeting draconians, meeting Forestmaster, seeing Que-shu's ruins, Xak Tsaroth, getting captured in solace, meeting Fizban, meeting Gilthanas, Meeting Theros, Escaping, meeting Laurana, getting the Pax Tharkas, rescuing the slaves, fighting dragons Verminaard, ending in a marriage of Goldmoon and Riverwind. Whew. In my mind, it seems that this was EXACTLY how the animators and writers saw this. They have the big scenes, and then very little rest time. You'll notice the pacing is action, action, action, action, without rest. I found that you cannot pause the movie without being in the middle of something. That in my opinion affects the story, especially among us DL fans. I think you're going to discover that pacing will remind you of the "down time" that a reader enjoys with the full story in the books.
Acting: The acting of the main characters is actually quite good. I don't believe the acting was subpar or that anyone was "phoning" it in. Lucy lawless does not play Goldmoon like Xena. She plays a commanding tone, which is good for the chieftain's daughter. I did thinking that they had fun with their characters. You can tell the acting had points of humor where characters can joke about each other. That goes a long way to making these companions seem more like family. James Marsden plays a Tasslehoff who is equally a trickster as much as an innocent kender.
Music: The music is top quality. No doubt about it. If this were an audiobook of Dragonlance, this movie would rock fans. But this is an animated flick. If the animation is great, the music is like a sweet dessert and a light coffee after the 5 star meal.
Dragonlance Purity: Okay. Here's where I think I'll place the largest of my criticisms on the movie. The fast pacing in effect leaves me feeling that the animation team picked the essential parts and just the rest to keep it in the 90 min time frame. That removes the downtime that we as readers had in getting to know the characters. I can name them. The scene in the cave. The dinner with the forest master. Burying the Que-sue, meeting the Highpulp. Technically, even Raistlin's release of Bupu is technically during a downtime where we got to see Raistlin's compassionate side. It was added in at Margaret's insistence. So, as a DL purists, a few pivotal scenes are left out, including Tanis's reference to being a half-man among elves. If there was ever something that instantly helps define a character, being called a half-man was so instant and original, I'm surprised it was cut.
Finally, we get to the ending. In this part I was a bit disappointed because many of the events in the book are a bit jumbled. Matafleur was not well represented. The book's plot was simple. Matafleur figures out there are enemies. Everyone runs away. Verminaard threatens to kill the children., Matafleur sees images of her babies getting killed, and attacks ember. Verminaard nearly defeats the companions, until Goldmoon comes and forces Takhisis to abandon Verminaard. However, in the movie, the events are a bit shuffled. Tanis's faith is the pivotal point. The movie's plot of faith bringing goodness to battle evil works on a standalone. But it seems to me that Tanis's faith shouldn't be so perfect in the first movie but in the end of the trilogy.
So, in conclusion, I think this movie is a decent work, but it's certainly not going to be the best vision that we fans would want. It's not perfect, and I don't think it well be perfect. But I think it's unfair to judge this movie on what could have been, or a perfect ideal. But I do think I need to be accurate for fans, who will be buying, renting and watching this movie and will you be entertained? I give this movie 6 out of 10 (3 out of 5).
As a fan, I hope you'll buy a copy so we can get Dragons of Winter Night. But as a fan, I can understand why you won't buy it. And that's okay too.
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