Friday, September 12, 2014

Case Study No. 1571: Marina Pretensa (library assistant)

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[Ridley Freeborn the thief and Marina Pretensa the mage find themselves in the middle of a den of thieves led by the evil Xilus]
XILUS: How is old Sumdall? That's a pretty tough town, isn't it? All those mages.
RIDLEY: We get by.
XILUS: Yes, well ... I think you must be very accomplished to have such a precious morsel traveling with you.
[he walks up behind Marina and gives her a slap on the behind]
MARINA: How dare you?
[despite her angry reaction, the surrounding thieves simply laugh amongst themselves, as Xilus smugly walks away from her]
XILUS: So, what might I do for you?




Solomon, Courtney (Director). Dungeons and Dragons. United States: New Line Cinema, 2000.

Starring: Zoe McLellan (Marina Pretensa, minor Mage & library worker); Justin Whalin (Ridley Freeborn)

Another example of librarian as action hero (see The Mummy and All the Queen's Men), and library as fight setting (see Shanghai Knights and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). Marina's introduction is reminiscent of Evie's in The Mummy, and like Evie, Miranda wears her hair in a bun, has glasses, and too much concealing clothing. She expresses dissatisfaction ("It's just that I feel like I should be doing something more than just shelving books") but minutes later she's caught up in adventure and there's no further reference to her job. Librarian attributes have nothing to do with the storyline. The scriptwriter must have been looking for a job that the heroine would find deadly dull. Silly boy. Quote of note: After she magically ties up two intruders in the library, one comments, "It must be the only way she can get guys to come home with her."



Dungeons & Dragons is a 2000 fantasy film directed by Courtney Solomon and based on the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Among the more notable features of the otherwise poorly received film are cameo appearances by Richard O'Brien (in a parody of his TV program The Crystal Maze) and Tom Baker. Parts of the film were made on location at Sedlec Ossuary.

The Empire of Izmer has long been a divided land, ruled by the Mages, an elite group of magic users. The antagonist of the film, an evil mage named Profion (Jeremy Irons) obtains a sceptre that allows him to control Gold Dragons. He tries it out on a golden dragon, but it backfires and so the dragon is out of control, leaving Profion to kill it. The dragon bleeds into the river, causing it to catch fire, which many inhabitants notice, entering the protagonists of the film, a pair of thieves named Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans).

Later, Profion and the Council talk about the controversial views of Empress Savina (Thora Birch), who wants to stop Profion and free the slaves, who are non-magic users. Meanwhile, Ridley and Snails break into the magic school to steal stuff, but are caught by the apprentice mage/school librarian Marina (Zoe McLellan). She is distracted when the mage Vildan is held hostage and interrogated by Profion's henchmen, Damodar (Bruce Payne) for info on where the map to the magic sceptre that controls Red Dragons as well Gold Dragons is. After refusing to talk, Damodar kills him. Marina gets the map and travels through a portal to escape, accidentally taking the thieves with her due to a capture spell. After crashing into a pile of garbage, they meet a dwarf named Elwood (Lee Arenberg), who ends up joining Ridley, Snails and Marina escaping through the sewer.

Damodar puts a price on Marina, Ridley, Snails and Elwood's heads and, after letting Profion know that the protagonists got away, Profion creates a tentacled monster inside Damodar's head. The protagonists hide in a tavern and read the map that Ridley and Marina get sucked into. Damodar and his henchmen attempt to capture Snails, Elwood and obtain the map, but they manage to get away. Ridley and Marina exit the map and all decide to work together to find the sceptre. They apparently have to find a red ruby called the "Eye of the Dragon" to open the door to the red sceptre, which is located in a den of thieve that's led by Xilus (Richard O'Brien) who'll give the protagonists the "Eye of the Dragon" if Ridley solves a maze of booby traps (which closely resembles traps from Indiana Jones 1, 2 and 3). Ridley manages to get the "Eye of the Dragon" when Damodar arrives to capture him and his friends. Marina gets captured while Ridley, Snails and Elwood escape, meeting an elf named Norda (Kristen Wilson) who works for Empress Savina and informs the Empress Profion's plans to get the Red Dragon sceptre. Meanwhile, Damodar tries interrogating Marina, but when she refuses to talk, Damodar uses the tentacles in his head to, what appears to be, gaining her knowledge.



Cut back to Ridley and Snails scaling the side of the School O' Magic. Apparently the School, a laughably colossal CGI edifice, doesn't have very tight security. Come to think of it, since these two morons with ropes can loudly climb the highest tower unseen while hollering at one another, the School of Magic must have no security at all. They come in through a high window of the storeroom and Ridley jumps down first. Snails is hanging from the rope and afraid to jump. (After you just climbed up what looked like 100 stories?) He makes Ridley promise to catch him. He promises. Then, just as Snails lets go of the rope, Ridley hears a noise and is distracted, letting Snails hit the stone. Yukity yuk yuk.

OK, Vildan again. He's badgering another young woman, apparently a librarian, who's up on a ladder getting a book for him. She is Marina Pretensa, and she's likely to be a major character because:

1. Vildan uses her name twice in less than thirty seconds;

2. She's bookishly cute suggesting a PG-version of "Sexually Repressed Librarian;" and

3. She looks to be about the same age as our other heroes—namely Ridley, so she's fit to swoon over him and go from feisty asserter to helpless damsel. Whoops ... I hope I'm not giving anything away here.

Finding what they need, the duo retires to some kind of workshop. They proceed to work on the scroll of the Rod of Savrille. Vildan does a little chant and sprinkles some glowing powder on the scroll, which then has cartoon greenish electricity dance across it (?), followed by a low flash and puff of green smoke (?!). Vildan declares "I never saw a scroll so hard to decode!" Is that what you were trying to do? Well, I wish I'd seen this movie back in high school. I would have done a lot better in French class if I knew I could learn the language by throwing burning embers and nitric acid on my textbooks.

Back to Ridley and Snails. Apparently they've entered into some kind of cluttered lab. Here they poke around and the pilfering proceeds. Snails picks up what looks like a jack-in-the box. Instead of a clown on a spring, which would be appropriate somehow, a small dragon torso pops out, roaring loudly.

Back in the other room, Marina and Vildan hear the racket and Marina is sent to find out what it is, Vildan saying "One of the lab creatures must have gotten loose again!" Then he goes back to work on the scroll. I don't know. I think I would send more than just an apprentice if one of the "lab creatures" got loose in my School of Magic.

But anyway ... investigating what can only be a veritable cacophony of loud noises coming from the lab, Marina surprises our zeroes. They first try to lie their way out of it with some unhumorous banter. After this falls flat, they attempt to skedaddle, but Marina casts some spell that ties a rope around the two of them. This leads to another round of Immortal Dialogue as Marina and Ridley exchange witless barbs. Hey, you know, I bet that beneath this bluster there lies the possibility that in the future they may start to like each other. Naw ... that'll never happen.

Mercifully cutting this short, a crash is heard back where Vildan was working. Marina runs to him. Apparently there is some kind of tractor beam between the mage and those caught in the spell because, in a particularly stupid bit, the rope "drags" Ridley and Snails along behind Marina (i.e. they run after her while yelling and pretending to be pulled along in her wake. Oh, this is so dumb.)

Cutting back to Vildan, we find him in the clutches of Blue Lips. Blue Lips, channeling Sting the Wrestler, snarls "Tell me where the scroll is or I'm going to have to kill you slowly!" Marina pops in and Vildan sees her. He flicks his hand and the hitherto unfound scroll flies across the room into Marina's hand, whom Vildan tells to run for it before Blue Lips breaks his neck. (It's less gruesome and more dopey then it sounds, believe me.)

Blue Lips and his band of ridiculously decked-out goons turn to face Marina and the other two lassoed stooges. She, in turn, throws some magic dust which opens some kind of magic gate through which she runs. Meanwhile, Snails and Ridley inform us that Damodar is the head of the "Crimson Brigade." Okay, so I guess he has some official status after all.

Ridley and Snails stumble through after her, followed by Blue Lips and the goons.

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