Find fantastical fun in “Dungeons & Dragons” 

Published 11:57 am Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Comedically commandeering the screen this week is “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” an adaptation of the multigenerational tabletop phenomenon. 

For many filmgoers, an adaptation of fiction can seem intimidating if the source material is not understood. And while many adaptations are made with an informed audience in mind, successful films simultaneously provide entertainment and cinematic appeal for audiences who are both informed and uninformed about the source material. 

“Dungeons & Dragons” is a film with appeal that transcends prior knowledge. This film is remarkably well-written, and the actors effortlessly execute the charm of their characters and dialogue.

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“Dungeons & Dragons,” as a game, is entirely predicated upon a temporary shared fantasy, where creativity and personality reign, and the limits of the world are the limits of your cooperative imagination. And while the game does incorporate much of the “fantasy” genre, the fantastical elements are the springboard for the personal creative outlets of dialogue and storytelling. The emotional center that the film successfully taps into provides an access point for audience members who otherwise may not take a chance on the fantastical setting. 

‘Swords and sorcerers’ is one genre of fantasy that takes many different forms in expression and interpretation. We have films like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (Jackson 2001-2003) at one end of the spectrum: high fantasy, with a self-serious commitment to telling a deep, artistically sound and philosophically informed story through the poeticism and metaphor of a fantastical world. These films obviously hold great appeal for many, but leave an equal number completely disinterested. 

At the other end of the spectrum, we have films such as “The Princess Bride” (Reiner 1987), a compelling and exciting story, set in a securely fantastical world, but one in which comedy, both self-aware and physical, combines with emotionality for a very enjoyable but decidedly lighter experience. 

Where does “Dungeons & Dragons” fall on that spectrum? It falls much nearer to the heartfelt and satirical style of “The Princess Bride,” than it does to the more solemn pole of the spectrum. “Dungeons & Dragons” is no less committed to its fantasy than a more serious film, but uses it as an avenue to humor and compassion, rather than to tragedy or philosophy. 

The story at the center of the film is a heist story at heart, focusing on the assembly of a team of unlikely heroes, a professional family, to achieve a shared goal. Leading this team is Edwin, played by the fantastic Chris Pine, a character actor who time and again proves his merit. The plot sees Edwin and his team face many a challenge, and provide many a laugh from both their successes and their dysfunctions. They match their thrills with earnest heart and tie it off with a laugh. 

We are sure that “Dungeons & Dragons” will prove itself a surely entertaining and surprisingly heartwarming venture for any filmgoers who choose to go on this journey with our heroes!