HOLLYWOOD—I am not the biggest fan of video games being adapted for the big screen. A lot of the time the filmmakers just don’t mix the right formula. I mean if you look at the history of many video games turned into movies they have bombed, “Tomb Raider,” “Street Fighter,” “Max Payne,” “Silent Hill,” the 1995 “Mortal Kombat” are just a few, I can name plenty more.
So upon seeing the first trailer for the adaptation of the video game “Dungeons & Dragons,” I remember playing that game as a kid; it wasn’t easy. So 2023 is looking like a popular year for video game adaptations with the animated version of “Super Mario Bros.” hitting theaters this week, and “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” arriving in theaters last week.
When it comes to “Dungeons,” I must say I was surprised with the film. It isn’t quite what I thought it would be. I thought I would be bored and lost with all that techie and mythological lore that the video game is known for. While I’ll argue the narrative for the movie is not great, it makes up for that with a solid cast, plenty of witty humor and wild action that keeps the viewer enthralled for over 2 hours. Yes, the movie clocks in over 2 hours which is a bit longer than it needs to be. About 10 to 15 minutes could have been trimmed off to improve the pacing.
The catalyst of the drama is Edgin Darvis portrayed by Chris Pine as a bard and former member of the Harpers. Pine has this amazing ability to portray characters who come across smarmy, but heroic. Such examples include “This Means War” and “Don’t Worry Darling” to name a few. His role as Edgin is more comedic though. He has endured a bit of tragedy and that has placed him on a path towards redemption to reunite with his estranged daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman).
Edgin’s journey of theft led him to the path to obtain the ‘Tablet of Reawakening’ in hopes of bringing his wife who was murdered back to life. Let’s just say all didn’t go as he expected. Remember, there is a lot of fantasy here with this film so suspending from reality helps in a major way. Do you need to refresh yourself with the video game or some of the characters to enjoy this movie? The simple answer is: no. I didn’t do it, nor did I plan to do it and anyone who is not a fan of the video game series can jump into this movie and have a ball as well.
The characters really work because they actually feel like a dysfunctional family. Beyond Edgin, he has his bestie and the second mother to his daughter, Holga (Michelle Rodriguez). I will admit I really thought I was going to get the same ole Michelle Rodriguez that I have seen in all the “Fast and Furious” movies she has appeared in with the tough as nails character who isn’t afraid of anything. Not quite that here, a little softer, still a beast to be reckoned with, but a bit of comedy too. I didn’t expect that and it was a welcome change to say the least from the actress. Justice Smith is the MVP of the movie, as Simon Aumar. Smith is absolutely hilarious in some the smallest scenes, but they break the ice in the way that delivers bellyaches to the audience people.
Sophia Lillis and Hugh Grant also deliver fun characters in the movie, as does “Bridgerton” star Rege-Jean Page as a crucial character who bands the entire group together on this journey that is indeed a fun ride once things start moving. The directors do a fantastic job of bringing the audience into the fun and the action, the visual effects, the spectacle of the explosions and these mythical creatures are astonishing to watch on the big screen.
You may come into “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves” expecting a mythical journey, which you will receive, but the laughter, that is the special element that makes a so-so flick that much more entertaining.