I had been waiting for this to come out for a while now, mostly out of a desire to finally have D&D transcend media (from games/literature to the small/big screen) and release something … good. I watched the reviews build up and was convinced it was only a matter of time before they took a downward turn, but it currently sits at a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems the reviews felt the same way I do in that this is just a fun movie overall with a reasonably contained plot & some honestly good acting.
The story focuses on a group of thieves who take on a questionable job and everything goes wrong from that point. The movies starts with a large amount of exposition as the main character explains his plight to a parole board. At first it seemed too drawn out, but it was a good way to setup their motivations and the state of the world. Humor is woven in to each scene so there’s really never a point that is pure action, but always a bit of fun laced into the story.
As the story gets moving, the main duo, Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez, are the heart of the film. It is their story (and largely focused on Pine) that sets the stage for the plot. However, they need help so the “crew” is assembled. Setbacks occur along the way and side quests become necessary which feels just like playing through a D&D campaign. Additional characters, such as Regé-Jean Page‘s Paladin are introduced and give the world a bit more flavor. I wasn’t familiar with Sophia Lillis, who plays a druid in the movie, but she was quite good and her snark was fun as a foil for other characters.
The movie makes many fan service references to names & places from D&D and there’s a REALLY good easter egg that I feel they’re marketing spoils, but I won’t contribute to that mistake here. There is some fast & loose work with the “rules” of the world of Dungeons & Dragons, but I think it’s fine given the story they’re trying to tell and typically, a Dungeon Master sets the rules of the world and has ultimate control of how things are allowed to proceed.
I think if you don’t go in expecting more than the story can provide and just want a family friend, fun action/comedy, you’ll be richly rewarded here. I think they may have just opened the door to a new franchise even though the story is completely self-contained, I see multiple paths for it to continue to grow.