It’s no secret that we love Dungeons & Dragons around here. So when we heard that the long-awaited movie reboot had snagged a new writer/director team, we were cautiously optimistic. Find out all the details–and why we’re not so sure that RPGs make good movies.
One director leaves, two enter
Chris McKay (The Lego Movie) had been attached to the project since early 2018. However, he left to work on Ghost Draft with Chris Pratt, and the D&D movie was once more in limbo.
Now, the writer/director duo Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley are in negotiations to take over. While McKay would have been great, Goldstein and Daley are legit geeks who wrote Spider-Man: Homecoming and made the underrated comedy Game Night. Also, Daley starred in Freaks & Geeks when he was just a wee lad and played the adorably nerdy psychologist Sweets on Bones (at least until that show did him dirty).
What if we’ve already had the perfect D&D adaptation?
The point is that Goldstein and Daley have the nerd cred to pull of a Dungeons & Dragons movie that’s true to the source material while being hip and funny.
That’s a far cry from the 2001 clunker starring Jeremy Irons, which treated D&D as serious business. But an argument can be made that there’s already been a successful adaptation of the game already. Yeah, I’m talking about Stranger Things.
The Netflix series used the kids’ Dungeons & Dragons campaign as a framing device for the story, weaving elements of the game through the episodes without being too heavy-handed about the whole thing.
A straight-up adaptation of a campaign might feel like listening to your DM deliver exposition for 2 hours. Instead, Stranger Things captured the fun and imagination of playing the game with your friends without being literal about it.
Maybe we should stop trying…
But do movies based on role-playing games even make sense? The appeal of playing these games is in the collaborative storytelling between a group of friends and comrades. You can come up with creative solutions, joke around while you slay evil monsters, and put your trust in the roll of a D20.
Even RPG video games like World of Warcraft, which don’t allow for much creativity from players, still put you in an active role. But movies are passive. You just have to sit there and watch the battle unfold instead of controlling it yourself. RPG movies too often feel like one big cut scene. Hopefully, the new D&D movie will find a way around that problem.