Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight DVD Impression

After three hundred years Takhisis, goddess of evil, has begun her return to the world of Krynn along with her dragons. As her dragon armies move across the land a small band of reluctant heroes is about to get swept up in a legendary adventure. Goldmoon, a plainswoman, arrives in the town of Solace at the Inn of Last Home carrying a blue crystal staff, one that holds great power and danger as the queens armies are searching for just such a staff. Goldmoon comes across Tanis and his friends and the adventure begins. Raistlin, Tanis, Goldmoon, Riverwind, Sterm, Flint, Tasselhoff and Cameron begin their journey and the world will never be the same.

Ok, brief recap her because face the facts folks, you either know Dragonlance or you should know it. I first read Dragons of Autumn Twilight back in the early 90’s, one of the first novels I read (right after Legend of Huma). Since then I’ve read the story about 4 more times in various formats and the adventure always hooks me. Long have I dreamed about an animated adaptation as well as a next-gen video game adventure. While I have to wait for the latter, but first has become a reality, in a sense. Let me start with the good, the voice acting. Some decent names from Kiefer Sutherland to Lucy Lawless and Michael Rosenbaum lend their talents and emotion to a cast as memorable as any seen in Middle-earth, maybe more so due to their continued adventures and the rich world they inhabit. Ok, so the good is done, now the bad. The story, oh the story in the novels is that life-long love that never ages, never fades or loses her glory. The story in the anime is stripped down to cover just the basics of the story. Lost are side adventures (Riverwind never gets hurt) and the character development and the back stories and the … well you get the point. It’s a shame as in my mind I see this trilogy being the fantasy what Lodoss War was animation wise and Gundam is story and side-story wise. There are so many excellent novels that you could have run with a three season series, one for each novel with side-stories like early adventures, Huma’s story, etc. So much material and we get a stripped down cliff notes version. Ah, but that’s not the worst, I’ve not touched on the animation. The Simpsons at its peak compared to the version on the Tracy Ulman show, yeah that’s how this compares to a newer anime such as Tsubasa Chronicles. Simply put, it’s a failed mixture of traditional animation and CGI (dragon armies). I could have worked, but does not. It’s like two different realities trying to merge. It’s just bad animation, especially when they have Raist showing concern on his face, which we all know he does not do.

So take the excellent work of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, strip it down, throw in some college-level I need extra credit animation and some great voice actors and you’ve got Dragons of Autumn Twilight on DVD. It’s sad cause this movie, properly done, and longer in length, could have hooked a whole new audience, a new generation, but as it stands now it’s for fans like me. See I can already not wait for Dragons of Winter Night. I’ll buy it ASAP, and if you love Dragonlance as much as I do then you’ll buy it too. It’s not too late for a truly epic anime based on one of the best franchises in fantasy writing ever. Why stop at anime, let’s do this proper with Peter Jackson LOTR style (but please dear god, do not do to my boys Raist and Tanis what was done to poor Eragon).

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