The DnD movie has been praised for its commitment to special effects. That dedication runs deep, from physical dragonborn and aarakocra animatronics, right the way up to volcanoes. While the lava-filled cavern the party encounters in the Underdark, might have used some CGI, another volcano at the start of the movie is the real deal.
Though the entire cast wasn’t able to shoot in Iceland due to covid restrictions, the filmmakers were able to send a crew to take ‘plates’. These are shots that could be inserted into the background, for the scenes of Icewind Dale, showing Holga and Edgin’s prison breakout.
Tyler Cordova, visual effects co-producer says, in the recent book ‘The Art and Making of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’, that the crew “shot a ton of footage ground level off a specially rigged snowmobile for the carriage entrance, and off a tripod in an Icelandic valley in the middle of nowhere for the ice chopping scene.
“We were also very fortunate to witness the eruption of an active volcano while we were shooting plates in Iceland. The shot of Edgin and Holga riding past an erupting volcano was real, and shot off a helicopter in Iceland – my all-time favourite plate”. The eruption was Fagradalsfjall volcano, which went off in March 2021 and continued for six months. It erupted again in 2022, but is currently inactive.
Covid prevented the shot being taken with the actors actually in situ. Which to my mind is a shame, because if they had shot in Iceland, they’d have had to ride adorable Icelandic horses. This breed of stocky, shaggy, pony-sized horse is unique to Iceland, and non-native horses aren’t allowed in the country to keep them safe from disease.
We’ve covered much of the behind the scenes tomfoolery for the DnD movie. You can see how Jarnathan was created, hear how the crew smashed up sets with a Mini Cooper, and how they tricked the cast with a real DnD trap. And don’t miss our DnD movie review to see what we thought overall.