They’ve tried before and dramatically failed in their attempt to make a legitimately good movie out of Hasbro’s Jurassic-era role player game Dungeons & Dragons – so what’s different now?
Besides, of course, an effects and production design budget worthy of its own bank cupola, a charismatic and indisputably entertaining collective lead by Chris Pine – channeling his Captain Kirk in the recent Star Trek movies, and a tone reminiscent of Rob Reiner’s timeless all-ages comedy-fantasy The Princess Bride? nothing.
Well, there is the fact that talented young filmmakers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Vacation, Game Night) have combined those components, prudently selected the key source material, and fleshed the known elements into an entertaining fan and non-fan story, and welcomingly and successfully stuck to a speciously manoeuvre of passing their film off as throwback of the glory days of Amblin.
Again, no reason Dungeons & Dragons Honour Among Thieves will work this time though – not with its filmic baggage and its seemingly niche audience. But ideally, with word of mouth and strong reviews, you’ll hear that Paramount’s attempt is the next cult classic in the making here – a superbly entertaining family film that far, far exceeds expectations and appeals on a much broader scale than even the studio might’ve at first suspected.
Pine plays Edgin Darvis, a charming, wise-cracking thief that assembles and a band of improbable explorers, most encompassing some sort of magic skill, on a mission to snag a long-lost relic that could potentially bring back the former’s late wife.
Hard to single out any one performance of this fine bunch because they’re all as entertaining as they are clearly having a hoot. Michelle Rodriguez plays barbarian Holga Kilgore, Darvis’s right-hand woman and dependable support system, and with Pine, she makes up half of a wonderful, high-chemistry duo. Regé-Jean Page is both charming and endearingly amusing as Xenk, and the always-dependable Hugh Grant is rogue Forge Fitzwilliam, the villain in bed with the evil Red Witch, Sofia (Daisy Head), who has stealthily kidnapped Darvis’s daughter. As younger members of the ‘good guys’ assemblage, Justice Smith (All the Bright Places) and Sophia Lillis (It) prove worthy counterparts for the seasoned performers they share screentime with.
Seemingly influenced by light, funny escapists adventure fantasy films of the ’80s – In addition to the aforementioned Bride (1987), there was also Willow (1988) and Legend (1985) – with a lacquer of more contemporary and hip misfit group comic book movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Daley and Goldstein’s D & D movie works because the thoughtful duo, and writers Chris McKay and Michael Gilio have carefully measured in the right amount of humour, adventure, charm, and heart, and though those special effects are super impressive, not once do the showy stuff overshadow the human element of the movie.
Accompanied by a beautiful 2160p/Dolby Vision UHD presentation, Paramount have outdone themselves with this 4K release : there’s a bunch of extras on here, some of which are 4K exclusives, like the numerous featurettes, there’s also some interviews, a gallery, a gag reel, and some deleted scenes.
Truly an exceptional release.