The Original Dungeons & Dragons Movie Is Garbage – But Jeremy Irons' Villain Is An All-Timer

If only "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves," an enjoyable fantasy-action romp, was actually the first-ever "D&D" movie. Unfortunately, it's not. That dubious distinction goes to 2000's "Dungeons & Dragons," a really weird anomaly of the early 2000s fantasy craze. Make no mistake – that film does not need a vulgar auteurist re-evaluation or even a defense, as it is a very bad movie filled with problematic character archetypes, terrible dialogue, and even worse CGI. You don't have to watch it to understand or enjoy "Honor Among Thieves," so unless you have some liquid assistance and some friends with you, we recommend you skip this in your "D&D" lore recap.

That being said, if you absolutely have to watch "Dungeons & Dragons," do it for one single reason: Jeremy Irons. Portraying the evil mage Profion, his entire character boils down to him just wanting to control the entire land for vague sociopolitical reasons. Honestly, it doesn't matter why he's the villain because his performance as such is really all you need to focus on. While it is famously attributed as a role he "needed" to take on because he moved into an Irish castle, it deserves to be remembered for how campy and ridiculous it truly is.

Unlike anything you've seen before

It's surprisingly impossible for you to get a good grasp on what the deal with Jeremy Irons' performance is in "Dungeons & Dragons." There are moments where he's just muttering his lines with no interest in what he's saying. This is especially true during scenes of him addressing the Council of Mages – he's memorized Profion's lines, sure, but he sure as hell hasn't committed to them in a way we know he can be. It would be unfair to call these parts of his performance "sleepwalking," because that might be offensive to sleepwalkers.

And then, at the turn of a hat, suddenly Profion is spewing venom at his assistant Damodar (Bruce Payne) or Empress Savina of Izmir (Thora Birch) with the rage of a thousand storms. These turns in his character come out of nowhere, as if Irons remembered mid-scene that he has an Oscar and he needed to prove why.

The sporadic nature of these outbursts decreases as the film continues, but not because he's reeling himself in. Rather, by the time the film's third act rolls around, he's gone completely wild, screaming and spitting as he vows to plunge Izmir into eternal darkness. Rarely can an actor's performance in a bad movie be described as both not caring about the role at all and caring far too much about it. Against all odds, however, Irons did it, and we as a greater society need to appreciate it more. Perhaps now that "D&D" is considered cool, we can give this performance the recognition it deserves. Hugh Grant could never.

"Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" makes its ways into theaters on March 31, 2023.