The Reel Review
Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez star in this action/adventure based on the popular fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, as a charming, kindhearted thief and a badass barbarian who embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic to save their family.
Under the helm of writer/directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Game Night, Vacation) and co-writer Michael Gilio, the film is a rollicking good time, leaning into its silliness with mostly dazzling visuals, lots of fun monsters, and humorous, lighthearted banter reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy. The film’s writers clearly are huge D&D fans, throwing in lots of game-specific name checks while keeping the story equally entertaining for non-gaming viewers. You don’t need to play the game to understand and enjoy the movie.
Pine and Rodriguez have an easy onscreen chemistry, with Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton) as a hilariously obtuse but skilled, noble paladin, Justice Smith as a not so confident sorcerer and Sophia Lillis as a shapeshifting tiefling druid – all of them working together to defeat the villainous rogue played by Hugh Grant and a terrific Daisy Head (Shadow and Bone, Wrong Turn) as the chillingly creepy Red Wizard. The nearly two-hour-and-20-minute runtime is at least 30 minutes too long, but faster than you can roll a 20-sided, icosahedron dice, the predictable story redeems itself with a surprisingly sweet tearjerker of a finalé.
• Ansel Elgort initially was cast in the lead role in the film, until it moved from Warner Bros. to Paramount Pictures.
• This is the fourth Dungeons & Dragons-themed movie, following the 2000 box office bomb Dungeons & Dragons starring Thora Birch and Jeremy Irons, and two subsequent, straight-to-video sequels.
• 2024 will mark the 50th anniversary of the game Dungeons & Dragons, which enjoyed a resurgence in virtual play during the COVID-19 pandemic. Famous D&D players include late night TV talk show host Stephen Colbert, actor Vin Diesel and the late Robin Williams.