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  Directed by
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  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras

    Scourge of Worlds

    Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . PG . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    "You are about to experience DVDn..."

    This bold forecast airs as the film begins. Or should it be a warning?

    Not that the technology of DVDn (whatever that stands for) is that bad, hell it’s simple really. It’s basically a big chapter search.

    Anyway, here we follow the misadventures of a small group of warriors/witches/magicians/mages/elves/etc. (there are three of ‘em) as they wander a desolate landscape preventing forest fires or something. They cross paths with Barathian™, a fella whose just pinched a map leading him to the Aryx Orthian™ - The Scourge of Worlds®. Visited by Ariadne, the spirit of The Wheel of Fortune™ he is told the Aryx Orthian must be found to save the day for their doomed world at war. However, Lidda™ the rogue halfling (also visited by Ariadne™ and the spirit of Baby John Burgess™), learns the real truth about the Aryx being a volatile weapon made by some baddies called the Süul™. (Dungeons and Dragons™ nerds please save your misspelling complaints till you’ve read the whole review).

    The whole thing plays out like one of those old Choose Your Own Adventure™ books from the '80s and it is a little bit of fun trying to get through the damn thing. But, unless you are a hardcore D&D jockey, the novelty may wear off pretty fast.

    The animation is on a par with other bare bones cheap 3D animation we’ve seen in films like Barbie as Rapunzel and is overall pretty disappointing. Whilst I recognise this is a new angle to pursue in the D&D vanguard, it might have been nice if they had hired some animators who at least had a hint of how to animate. The modelling is pretty weak as well, with no consideration given to things like gravity and physics, but I’ll come back to that. Overall the rendering of the characters in various environments is not appropriate to the light sources and this makes the whole thing look like it was shot in a studio (and yes, I understand the irony of that statement). For example, there are scenes in the blistering heat of a caked desert floor in broad daylight, yet characters have heavy shadows falling across half of their forms. In that situation I think you’d be hard pressed to find any kind of shade at all. Plus, the heavy garments and armour never comes off. Surely in a situation when you’re breathing hot air and desperate for water you’re gonna ditch the kevlar?

    And as to weight and gravity and physics. Imagine, if you will, you are standing when a dog rears and its forepaws land easily on your shoulders. That’s a bigarse dog, right? However, no characters buckle under this new weight, although it happens to all of them, including Lidda the rogue halfling™. The Barathian guy hefts a massive steel club and shield without but a grunt or fighting with gravity. I don’t care how strong anyone is, they can’t do that because gravity weighs things down regardless of your muscle. It has density. And that’s what makes a lot of this film look like a third rate video game.

      Video
    Contract

    Well, this is clear enough in the enhanced 1.78:1 ratio, but there are frequent sojourns into aliasing and compression drama. Not to mention edge enhancement. This is something I’ve only recently had described to me well enough to understand, and it is seemingly quite prevalent here. With so many shades of grey there’s no wonder either. But then, that’s primarily used to enhance video isn’t it? The nature of this DVD demands it couldn’t possibly be on video. Strange, but it’s there folks.

    Colours are stilted and even enough, but they are usually poorly lit or lit with coloured light, so they fluctuate throughout. Blacks are fine, while shadow detail fluctuates between moderate to poor. For a lot of the action scenes they’ve utilised motion capture (Mo-Cap™) and this is evident when we see an obviously well-animated piece run alongside a guesswork piece. They also re-use some capture many times on various characters, so we see warriors, elves etc. all fall at the same angle in the same manner. Cheap.

    Then there’s the slow-paced action scenes when they use Mo-Cap™ fighting by non-professional fighters. You can almost see the fear of getting hit by an errant blade in their eyes. This is no Braveheart.

      Audio
    Contract

    Granted a lordly choice between Dolby 5.1 or 2.0, I went with the 5.1 option. While the music gets in and around the surrounds frequently, there isn’t much else but very subtle humming or clanging in the fight scenes. The music though is quite good for this production. It resembles video game stuff, but aptly suits this medieval-like tale of good versus evil. It’s eerie, it’s angelic and sometimes orchestral and dramatic to suit a given mood. This has been scored well by Steve Pecile and David W. Shaw.

    Some of the sound effects sound a bit over-real, like in the crackling of a fire. For the sound I mean, see Shrek and the aforementioned Barbie. Do they get a free ‘Sound Effects Kit™ with their computer programs or something?

    Dialogue is scrappy, with modern snatches of social cliché littering the landscape and gruff lines delivered by gruff voiced hams. While it’s easily understood for the most part, a lot of the actor’s credits turned up in the animator’s credits here. In fact, lots and lots of names have multi-skilled in various fields for this production. What does that tell us?

      Extras
    Contract

    Due to the nature of this sort of thing, there’s stuff strewn all over the disc, but there’s no space for extras. It could be looked at that this story has ‘over 990 unique story combinations, more than 20 decision points and four different endings’ so maybe that should be enough. There are hours of making choices ahead of you here already.

    Oh, there is a help screen with instructions before you start, but the remote is disabled for the movie. All we can use are the menu and enter buttons. Luckily, they’re my favourites.

    Also, for the quick-eyed, there is a mildly humourous old FBI™ warning as the disc is opening.

      Overall  
    Contract

    I never really understood the Dungeons and Dragons™ ethos and never really got all that acquainted with it. For fans of the phenom, no doubt this will be a red-letter day in upgrading technology or something, but for anyone else this doesn’t have much interest. The game angle is kinda fun and making choices that may kill people is fun, but inevitably the eyebrows stop raising.

    I can’t say whether this is related to the previous D&D incarnations, or whether there are carry-on characters or anything, but there is a strong chance the younger fellas might like the novelty of it. Not to mention the clanging and animation and stuff. It’s only rated PG and the kills are relatively bloodless, so who knows? Maybe.


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      And I quote...
    "Dungeons and Dragons just won't lay down and die, will it?"
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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