So - is it as bad as the original?
No, but then what could be?
D&D The Elemental Might is a direct-sequel to the first D&D movie unfortunately. But it doesn't explain the dire ending to the dire D&D1.
Unforunately it's still set in Izmier (which is now a Kingdom complete with king, not an Empire with an empress - but hey, what's continuity?). And they've forgotten that the kingdom has a golden rod that controls gold dragons, which is a bit of a problem as that kind of mojo is very handy when a very nasty firebreathing black dragon turns up to threaten Izmir.
In another bout of amazing continuity Bruce Payne's villain, Damador, is now a wizard, rather than the toadying warrior sidekick he was in D&D1. And he's undead, because he explains he was cursed by Jeremy Iron's wizard Ibu-Profien (despite the fact that in the first movie Damador was last seen hurtling towards the pavement very, very quickly. Maybe undead-pizza wasn't going to be a very threatening villain).
Anyway, in order to get over his bout of undeadness Damador finds this orb that allows him to awaken the black dragon, and the city of Izmir arranges a party of five adventurers, a knight (read fighter), a rogue, a cleric (of Obad-Hai, that well known Greyhawk... er Izmir... deity), a wizard and a barbarian to go off an get the orb back.
Yup - the plot is pretty cliched, but it's fairly solid unlike the first film. It's definitely on par with Hawk the Slayer (which I like) and has a fair amount of D&D elements in it. And no stupid beholders.
The guy who plays the knight is pretty good as they've realised that using actors with British accents rather than Californian drawls makes for a more authentic medieval experience. Who knew? He's also married to (a different and English accented) wizard which makes me suspect he was meant to be Ridley and the mage from the first film in the original scripts and they didn't bother to change the names.
Everyone gets stuff to do in this film, unlike the last one where most the characters sat around going, "They must do this alone" while the main pair bumbled around. Even the mage-wife gets a hefty dose of plot. And the rogue is pretty competent.
There are very few fight scenes in this movie - the ones there are seem to be over very, very quickly. The best one if about 5 minutes into the movie and it is a sparring match between the kniggit and some peon. There is no final battle to speak of - the heroes just spook the baddie's horse and he falls off it and he's arrested. And stuck in jail. And that's it. Enough said.
Now go hence and find someone to make Dragonlance into a trilogy of movies.