Thursday, April 3, 2008

DRAGONLANCE - DRAGONS OF THE AUTUMN TWILIGHT

Based on a series of Dungeons & Dragons tie-in adventure novels, DRAGONLANCE (2007) is a PG-13 animated fantasy film that revolves around a cosmic battle between good and evil, and the group of heroes who gather for a quest which will benefit the forces of good. Pretty standard stuff, really.

The producers have rounded up a geek-friendly cast of voice actors, including Kiefer Sutherland (THE LOST BOYS), Lucy Lawless (XENA), Michael Rosenbaum (SMALLVILLE) and Michelle Tratchenberg (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), and the script, based on the novel by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, is fairly solid, if routine, fantasy material.

Unfortunately, the animation, directed by toon vet Will Meugnot, looks like it was done in the mid-Eighties. Compared to other recent, direct-to-DVD animated features like JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER, HELLBOY ANIMATED or TUROK: SON OF STONE, DRAGONLANCE looks downright prehistoric.

The character designs are bland and uninspired, the backgrounds are under-detailed, and the animation itself is stiff and awkward. The limited computer animation never blends well with the had-drawn material, and is frequently jarring. I suppose, if you were a fan of that awful DUNGEONS & DRAGONS cartoon from the Eighties, this movie might make a decent companion piece, but really, it’s just not very good.

Paramount’s DVD is fine, with a sharp, anamorphic widescreen transfer and robust Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The skimpy extra features consist of some early test animation and the original character designs.

I love good adventure animation, but this isn’t good adventure animation. Not recommended.

BUY: Dragonlance - Dragons Of The Autumn Twilight