Dudes & Dragons is a Dud


Release Date: 03/01/2016
Length: 122 minutes
Cast: James Marsters James Marsters Kaitlin Doubleday Adam Johnson Maclain Nelson Luke Perry
Director: Maclain Nelson
Genre: Action and Adventure

Dudes & Dragons is everything you would expect from a movie called Dudes & Dragons. The parody/homage to fantasy films has just enough originality and wit that it is hard to write it off completely.

The story, though a bit convoluted, involves a group of ragtag misfits that must venture to a far off land to rescue a damsel in distress. While that may seem simple enough the world they inhabit isn’t just a fantasy world but a comedy fantasy world, meaning anything can happen. This wouldn’t be so bad if the movie could just find a tone and stick to it.

In its defense the film was made on a micro budget by Maclain Nelson and Stephen Shimek though Kickstarter. Had any other filmmakers made it this would be probably be one of the worst movies of the year but given its ultra-indie status some leeway must be given.

In the end the film’s greatest strength is also its downfall. Due to budget constraints the entire movie was shot on green screen allowing them to create fantasy landscapes that they could never achieve on a small budget.  Unfortunately it gives the entire movie an artificial look that takes the audience out of the film. The effects themselves aren’t unlike something you would have seen on Xena in the late 90s.

It is only on the strength of the cast that the film truly succeeds. The biggest name is of course James Marsters who, as yet another villain is coasting on his Buffy persona.  An expert at chewing the scenery Marsters manages to elevate every scene that he is a part of. Sadly, since he’s relegated as the Big Bad pretty much none of the cast gets to interact with him.

The rest of the ensemble consists of Ramicus (Adam Johnson) a rogue dragonslayer and eternal bachelor, his overly feminine brother Camilan (Maclain Nelson) who is in love with an elf woman, Samton (Jake Von Wagoner) and their trusty orc companion Shokdor (Erik Denton).  All of which bring decent performances though it feels as if they are in their own invidual movies for most of the film. Johnson seems to be doing his best impression of The Dude while Wagoner comes off as a bargain basement Nick Swardson.

At just over two hours the film would have done much better as a short. It says pretty much everything it wants to say in the first hour and then just takes up the rest of the time with filler that doesn’t make much sense.  While not painful to watch the film seems ideal for late night viewing on a weekend with friends.