It’s exciting to see that there is a growing world of options for dungeons and dragons (D&D) content. Thanks to services like Twitch, we have been able to follow along with many peoples games, right from their own table. A lot of TV shows are also creating stories with direct inspiration credited to D&D. It seems that movies have been difficult to capture the feel of the game. While there has been official D&D movies made, there were some mistakes made in their first attempt that disappointed the fan-base, and confused newcomers. There’s another D&D movie possibly being made in the near future, and I wonder if they will actually roll well on their performance and manage to pull something off.
For me, these 10 movies are my favourite movies to capture the feeling of D&D. I am sticking to just movies, so shows like Critical Role, Harmonquest, or Stranger Things are fantastic, but not necessarily movies. I can only hope that the new D&D movie can learn from movies like these. Take a look at this list and let me know what you think.
10. The Book of Vile Darkness
Chances are that, if you’re reading this, you knew of the first D&D movie, but did you know that there are three? Thankfully, they have almost nothing to do with each other, so they can be enjoyed on their own. This one, being the third, follows a Paladin who joins the “evil campaign” to try and save the world by stopping the big bad from getting an evil book.
Is it a great movie? No. There are a lot of references that only a D&D player will appreciate, and anyone else would just be left confused. That being said, the movie does have fun with the idea of an evil group, and doesn’t hold back on trying to make more references to the game than before. On top of that, the character concepts are pretty cool!
9. D&D: Wrath of the Dragon God
The second of the three D&D movies, this one feels like what a D&D game is: a group of players are recruited by the King to go get something and defeat a big bad evil guy. Their choice of characters and casting is pretty good, which makes it enjoyable to follow along. They have to deal with some interesting puzzles, make believable mistakes, and the villains that they fight are alright.
Well, really, the villains are a bit silly, but fun to laugh at! I wish they focused more on the lackadaisical attitude of the lich. Instead, they carried over the antagonist from the first movie, not that it is really connected to the story by any other means than the casting. This movie does a much better job of getting the idea of what a D&D game is like, it just so happens that the common D&D game has a really basic plot.
8. Princess Bride
This movie has memorable characters, humour, charm, and a narrator! Peter Falk is most definitely the DM of this story, and he does a great job of bringing life to the characters for Savage, the PC! The characters are charming, fun, and humourous. Even the supporting characters leave you wanting to see more, because they are so much fun.
Does it feel like there is a daunting tension in the arc? No, you’re pretty assured that the story will be safely told, and there will likely be a happy ending. Just like most D&D games, you are confident that you’re in good hands, having a good friend tell you an enjoyable story. Just be sure there’s no kissing!
7. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The traps. Oh my the traps. How can anyone imagine a dungeon without thinking about the traps in Indiana Jones? I can’t. The light triggered blades, tiled puzzles, invisible steps, and choosing wisely will always come from here.
I don’t have much more to say: the charm of this movie is fantastic. It knows that it is a silly action movie, and it does it well. Like a game of D&D, you’re meant to have a bit of tension, but much more importantly, you’ll have fun. Don’t think too hard about whether something is realistic or plausible, because it’s more fun to think about how silly a concept could be.
6. A Knight’s Tale
I suspect that I might not share rating this movie so highly as a D&D movie, but the reason I do so is because of the characters, their interaction, the silly story, the world, and the fun. For me, a D&D game is about having fun with friends, with a touch of tension, but ultimately knowing that you’re after having a good time. The depth that your friends can bring to table is what really changes your time together, as you learn about what each person can offer and learn.
This movie, while not the best for character development, does a great job for the theme that it is: medieval comedy? The anachronisms, the obviously improvised lines, dramatic over-acting, and the occasional serious note is what makes this one high on my D&D movie list.
5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
If King Arthur is the archetypal knight, this is the D&D version of him. He does indeed gather friends to accomplish a quest, and while they might appear to be badass and fearsome, you’re more likely to laugh at them. You’re then likely to keep a running gag to make fun of them too. And the joke will never die.
It feels like each scene could have been a dramatic masterpiece, but then Monty Python shows you how ridiculous it is. It’s truly a… a.. what is the word.. an allegory! A great allegory for D&D! If you haven’t seen, you go ahead and watch it now. I’ll just be here.
4. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Of course. You’ve seen it. And of course, the first one is the ideal pick; this is the movie that got a group together. Just as real life D&D groups, they work well together at first, but then slowly separate over time, and most likely go on their own adventures.
So what more is there to say? Well, I think Tolkien’s major inspiration came from the time and experiences he had with his friends. He wanted to share the feeling of enduring life together, which can include a lot of happy times, but also a lot of suffering. Even the most pure of people can be changed by this life, but it is their friends that keep them stable. Stories unify us.
3. Dead Gentlemen: The Gamers
This is the sequel to another great fan-made movie. I was so happy when I stumbled upon this. I’m just so sad it took me so long to find it, so to make up for it, I’ve watched it so much that I could recite every line. This was the first movie I saw that included the players, and as it should! The major part of playing a game like D&D is the players!
Getting a group of people together to play a game and tell a story is often very improvised, inexperienced, but genuine. That’s what made me love this movie: it’s a bunch of guys at college just having fun together. Not just the story of the movie, but it’s obvious that the production team also genuinely shared those experiences.
Most of these movies focus on the story that takes place within the game, and the Gamers’ movies look at both the games story and the players themselves. Thac0 looks entirely at the players and never the story within the game. This movie is about the group of players trying to play the game, but never actually get to do so.
Most of the time, this is what we are really doing as D&D players: fantasizing or talking about playing. Whether we are talking about mechanizing real life into game terms, different editions, or just random cultural nonsense, this movie touches it all. Some of the references might be too old now, but the general concepts they discuss are very easy to relate to. I could very easily see a scene being written into this movie about making a top 10 d&d movie list, and the obvious contention around every single choice.
- Reign of Fire
- Conan the Barbarian, and Conan the Destroyer
- Jason and the Argonauts
- 13th Warrior
- The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
- Dark Dungeons
1. The Gamers: Dorkness Rising
What a movie. I thought the first movie would have been the perfect balance of player and character storytelling, but this movie came in and had me laughing harder than ever. A party of players need a new player to join them to try out a custom campaign module, so they recruit a girl. A girl?! Thankfully, the comedy of a girl being a “fish out of water” for humour is not lingered upon. Instead, we get a great movie about what it’s like to play a game and have the game leak into our daily lives. We find ourselves thinking about it during our daily routines and work lives, trying to find ways to better ourselves, and ultimately how to make ourselves better friends.
The characters are very relatable and believable. I can imagine each of these characters at any rpg table. The lessons that they each learn is the added touch that really sets this movie on the top. It isn’t just about a good story, but also the fun of playing and contributing to it.