Cinema Dispatch: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

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?

“I suggest we throw a rock down there first to see if it’s safe.”     “How about we throw you down there?”    “Me!?  Why!?”     “A rock can’t scream.  How will we know if it’s unsafe without screaming?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Mortal Engines

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Mortal Engines and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christian Rivers

There are always WAY too many movies coming out this time of year which means that I can fall a bit behind or forget to see movies altogether.  HOPEFULLY that won’t be a big issue this year; especially if I can still find time to go out and see THIS film!  Yes, it’s another movie adapted from a Young Adult novel that’s the first in a series, but unlike recent attempts like The Darkest Minds (ugh…), it looks like someone put some real effort into this thing with just how absurd the premise is and how much money looks to have been spent trying to realize it!  Can this big budgeted world saving extravaganza be the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games, or is this yet another example of Hollywood having no idea how to adapt these kinds of books to the big screen?  Let’s find out!!

In the far off future, after the bombs dropped and presumably after the Fallout games, humanity has decided that the best way to live in the ravaged hellscape of post-apocalypse Europe is to build cities on top of their cars and race them around looking for resources.  I’m not quite sure how this is more efficient than say using airplanes and smaller vehicles to find stuff and bring it back to stationary cities, but then I guess I’m from the BOMBED INTO OBLIVION part of history, so what do I know?  The biggest and baddest of these cities is London (which STILL waves the Union Jack a thousand years later) run by the nefarious Thaddeus Valentine who you KNOW is bad because he’s played by Hugo Weaving, and when they capture one of the smaller roaming cities he learns that there’s at least one person out there who’s quite cross with him.  Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) was one of the captured city’s refugees, but it was all a ploy to get her that much closer to Valentine who she takes a stab at but only causes minor damage because some dude named Tom (Robert Sheehan) sees the attack coming and stops her from finishing the job.  Through an elaborate chase scene, Tom chases her down to… I guess the city’s trash hole where she tells him that Valentine killed her mother before escaping the city through said trash hole.  Valentine, realizing that one of his loyal peons has heard the ravings of an attempted murder decides that the rational thing to do here is not to convince him that she was lying or even to outright murder him, rather he throws him down the trash hole as well; very much alive and at least a little bit peeved by the whole experience.  From there he finds Hester again and they tentatively team up to find a new city for him and a new assassination plot for her.  Along the way they’ll run into raiders, slavers, some robot dude named Shrike (Stephen Lang), and even an Anti-London resistance movement head up by Anna Fang (Jihae) of which Hester is apparently the key to their success and not just one of many people who have a legitimate grievance against Valentine.  Speaking of whom, he also has some sort of plan to make a Doomsday Weapon out of old technology which he will use to… conquer the world I guess?  In any case, will Hester and Tom learn to become friends over the course of their ridiculously convoluted journey?  Why DID Valentine kill Hester’s mother, and what other secrets is she hiding from everyone around her?  For all the stuff these cities have scavenged, did any of them manage to find the plot?

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“Where do we go now?”     “I don’t know, wait for something to explode.”

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