Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
Tabletop RPGs and I; we just don’t get along. I guess I just grew up with video games that integrated the mechanics of RPGs in a way that didn’t require math or looking up obscure text in a dictionary-sized player’s manual, and the few experiences I’ve had with them were rocky at best. Still, there’s no denying that Dungeons & Dragons is second only to Tolkien as far as influence in the fantasy genre, and while the last attempt at a film adaptation didn’t fare too well, there are enough unique ideas and creative settings for a truly great movie to base itself around. Does this latest attempt at bringing the tabletop game to life leave us with an exemplar of the genre or was this campaign doomed from the start? Let’s find out!!
Our fantasy hero for this epic tale is the bard Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) who has been locked up for several years after a regrettable crime and wishes for nothing more than to pay his debt to society and reunite with his daughter (Chloe Coleman)! Well at least that’s the story he wants you to believe when in actuality he’s a thief who got himself and his partner Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) locked up after a botched robbery, and instead of paying his debt to society he’s just gonna break himself and Holga out of there to reunite with his daughter who has been under the care of another member of their crew who managed to escape. Said escapee is Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant) who I’m sure you are shocked to learn maybe had something to do with those two getting caught in the first place, and while he has been taking care of Edgin’s daughter, he’s also been cavorting with a red wizard (Daisy Head) and, worst of all, has gone into politics to become the Lord of Neverwinter! With Forge intent on keeping his power and the red wizard Sofina looking to advance her own agenda, Edgin and Holga are forced to go on the run and find a way to stop them; most likely by pulling off a heist because that’s what they’re good at. To help with this task they recruit another former associate, the young wizard Simon (Justice Smith), as well as a tiefling druid named Doric (Sophia Lillis) who has her own reasons for wanting to bring down the current Neverwinter administration. Along the way, they’ll find themselves in perilous situations, fighting red wizard minions, and facing tough emotional conflicts; quipping their way through it all because this crew is on the chaotic side of the alignment and are at least a little flexible on the good and evil axis. Can a band of such disparate misfits hope to pull off this heist against a stronger and more ambitious foe? What lessons must be learned for them to come together as a team and fight for the greater good? Can they maybe fight for the neutral good or semi-good? I mean being a hero doesn’t pay the bills, right?
Underworld: Blood Wars and all the images you see in this review are owned by Screen Gems
Directed by Anna Foerster
They managed to fit both an Underworld sequel and the final Resident Evil movie in the same month!? I mean sure, we’ve got a crappy horror movie and that Monster Trucks things as well, but way to step it up for January! Okay so NEITHER franchise is what you’d call paragons of cinematic exceptionalism, but they’re both fun in their own right and I remember the last Underworld movie being the best so far which this is a direct sequel to. Then again, the LAST direct sequel (Underworld Evolution) wasn’t a bright spot for the franchise, but maybe they’ve learned their lesson since then and can elevate this franchise to heights comparable to the MCU! Okay, MAYBE that’s a bit hyperbolic, but at least it’ll probably be better than the DCCU. Does this monster mash continue to kick ass and take names, or is this fifth entry the final stake through the heart that will finally kill this franchise? Let’s find out!!
When we last left our fearless hero Selene (Kate Beckinsale) she had stopped some sort of plot by werewolves to kill all the vampires. Standard stuff for this series, but the added twist was that Selene had a daughter… while she was in some sort of cryo-chamber or something. Well this one picks up some time later where Selene has sent off her daughter to someplace that even SHE doesn’t know where so that she can be protected if the werewolves or the vampires want to use her super blood. If you’ve been following these movies (or listen to the opening monologue that catches everyone up in this one), Selene and her one true love Michael (Sir Not Appearing In This Movie) are super special monsters; the latter because he’s half vampire half werewolf, and the former because… I honestly don’t recall. I THINK it had to do with Evolution, but whatever. The point is that Eve is the combination of a super vampire and a hybrid, so HER blood is AMAZING and everyone either wants a piece of Selene to get to her or they want her head on a stick because of all the super heroics she’s done previously, and this includes the vampires who are still salty about her cutting off half of Bill Nighy’s head that one time. That said, even though I don’t remember the exact reason WHY that happened, I assume it was justified because it was Bill Nighy. Alright, so that’s all the backstory leading into this movie, now what is the movie actually about? Selene is given a chance to earn forgiveness from the vampires if she comes back and works as some sort of trainer for their raw recruits in their army which is of the utmost concern considering this damn war between the werewolves and vampires is starting to turn against them and they are desperate for anything that will help them turn the tide; even if it’s from the one who cut off Bill Nighy’s head. The reason for this change of fortunes seems to be the werewolves’ new leader Marius (Tobias Menzies) who’s managed to corral them into an effective fighting force and also seems to be the primary one after Selene or Eve’s blood… for some reason. Like I said, she’s a SUPER vampire now, so I’m sure the werewolves can figure out a good use for it! Now with all that working against the vampires, including the fact that their basically down to two covens, you’d think they’d ACTUALLY work together, but unfortunately there are some bad apples there who are hoping to not only seize control of the coven, but frame Selene for awful crimes in the process. Could it be returning characters David and Thomas (Theo James and Charles Dance), newcomers to the series Semira and Varga (Lara Pulver and Bradley James) or someone else that I won’t even name!? What about those albino vampires that look like they’re stuck on top of a snowy mountain? Where do they fit into all this? The real question though is does ANY of this matter when you’ve got VAMPIRES SHOOTING MACHINE GUNS!?