As much as I enjoy suggesting great animated films to readers of this blog, I also feel the need to warn them of true disasters as well. Such is the case with Paramount Pictures 2008 direct to video release Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight. This animated film was adapted from the highly successful Dragonlance novels from authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. This movie failed on so many different levels that I felt the need to point it out to those fans of the Dragonlance series – or anyone who enjoys a good sword and sorcery tale – to not waste your time on this one.
The story takes place in the fantasy land called Krynn where six friends reunite after years apart, only to fall headlong into danger from a rising plague of dragons. The story ventures into a variety of situations that include gulley dwarves, draconians, epic battles and more…yet the production fell well short of what this should have (or could have) been. In spite hiring top names to voice the project, such as Keifer Sutherland and Lucy Lawless, the movie lacked good voice direction which leaves the viewer confused or disappointed in the presentation. The character Raistlin (voice of Sutherland) is a mystical, enigmatic mage one would expect to have that echoing, ethereal voice when casting a spell but they decided to have him bellow out his spells like some growling barbarian. Practically every character in the story gave a flat performance that sounded more spoken than acted.The cadence and flow of dialogue was hard to follow – it would be too fast paced, then it would slow down to a crawl leaving you waiting to see if the next scene got any better. The biggest failure in the movie, which I consider the downfall from almost any movie that has attempted this, is the mixture of 2d and 3d animation. All dragon characters (draconians included) were rendered in 3d and then mixed in poorly with the rest of the traditional, flat 2d action from characters that fought them. Shading and contrast fought one another during these battle scenes making it too difficult to watch the fight that was supposed to be taking place. Another failure came from the poor editing; all films suffer some minor glitches in editing yet Dragonlance seemed to have an abundance of scenes where in one instance, the ground would be covered in blood,only to magically disappear the next time that frame showed up.
I held high hopes for this movie as I am an avid fan of the Dragonlance novels but this fell well short of any expectations I might have had. The lesson learned from this screenplay is, just because you have a great written story doesn’t guarantee you will have a good animated film. There are a lot of good sword and sorcery animated movies out there so pass this one by and find another one to watch.