And here we are; a quest through three movies of questionable quality, all so I could construct this specific review with some established gravitas and knowledge.
Let’s begin with the plot, shall we. Fear not, fans, this has all the hallmarks of a ludicrous adventure… Fear me, however, uninitiated, because you’ll struggle to keep up.
Once an evil group of wizards controlled an evil spell that turns people into undead killing machines. The head of these wizards was arrested by a member of the Harpers. However, during the arrest said Harper becomes quite interested in the ‘wizards hoard’ of expensive items. His sticky fingers unleash the wizards vengeance and his wife pays with her life. Broken and desperate, the Harper joins up with a bunch of misfits (this is D&D!!) and they seek the tablet of reawakening, to bring his wife back from the dead.
However they are all thwarted / unknowingly betrayed at the endgame and he is imprisoned…
And now we’re in the present, and a prison break leads to a couple of heists, dragons, dungeons, hijinks, magic and comedy.
The film hits every right note on a roll. The CGI is great, with some well realised caves and lava and magic effects. The ideas are positively brimming over- the staff of here-to-there provides some creative puzzling, and there is a fair bit of warm chemistry between all the leads. The filmakers clearly rolled the dice and got a 6. Or…a 20 if they used a d20.
Chris Pine is the affable Harper-turned-thief and manages to toe the line between comedy and drama fairly well. Justice Smith is screamy whiny wizard, evoking his kid-friendly stupidity as he did in Detective Pikachu. Hugh Grant shines as cad and coward, continuing his successful ploy to shrug off his British oo-oo-er which he mastered in classics like Love, Actually and Notting Hill.
However, the absolute standout is Michelle Rodriguez, clearly loving every second. She has the emotional heart of the film and delivers it perfectly. I’ve always been a bit cagey over her – her resting bitch face suited her character Letty in the Fast/Furious movies, and i could never quite decide whether she was enjoying herself (or indeed her job) – but with this… well, she looks as if she’s having a ball. And her joy is infectious.
Its not perfect, don’t get me wrong. My tiny issues are, however, probably quite personal. For me, it didn’t have a rousing theme. The original DnD movie in 2000 had a score so brilliant i still hum it every now and then. I didn’t feel as if i could literally watch the film again immediately afterwards (unlike, say, Jurassic Park, or one of the Trek movies, or original Star Wars films) but i wouldn’t dare compare this fun romp to any of them. Its hugely entertaining.
So good, in fact… I’m going to start DnD proper. Become a tabletop gamer. Its in my 40th year resolutions!