Review Date: 4/6/23
Cast: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant, cameo by Bradley Cooper
A band of thieves is duped into stealing a dangerous artifact, which ends up in the hands of a Red Wizard who wants to enslave the world. You can tell she's evil because of how much eye makeup she wears. Now Edwin (Chris Pine), Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), Simon (Justice Smith), Doric (Sophia Lillis), and Xenk (Regé-Jean Page) have to combine their strengths and overcome their pasts to defeat the Red Wizard and set things right. And get a little revenge against the traitorous and treacherous Forge (Hugh Grant) while they're at it.
It's a fun and lighthearted fantasy romp that focuses on humor and doesn't take itself too seriously. That said, it's also silly and dumb, with an inconsistent plot that defies logic if you dare to think about it. The film's real strength lies in its characters, who are fun and goofy outcasts with tons of charisma and personality. Michelle Rodriguez is wonderful as a bad-ass warrior with no filter, Justice Smith is a lovable bumbling sorcerer, Sophia Lillis is a delightfully cynical and hard-edged Druid and shape-shifter, Regé-Jean Page is charming as a fierce and way-too-serious paladin, and Hugh Grant hams it up as a smarmy villain, similar to his role in Guy Ritchie's "Operation Fortune" (2023). The weakest link is actually Chris Pine, who is the main character and leader of the group. He comes across like a shady used car salesman, and while I can't fault his performance, his character is aggressively unlikable, who hides his pain and shortcomings by trying just a little too hard to be witty and charming.
It's a great-looking film and the visual effects are superb. The action scenes are fun and energetic, and it's always enjoyable to see Michelle Rodriguez fight. Hugh Grant seems to be having a ball and Regé-Jean Page nearly steals the show with his hilarious dead-pan delivery and sense of disdain. Apart from some name-dropping and a handful of recognizable creatures, the D&D aspect is hardly noticeable. Of course, I haven't played in over 40 years, so current fans of the game will probably find a lot more references and things to identify with in the film. Overall, I found it to be an innocuous and easily forgettable family-friendly adventure that reminded me of recent Disney fare, like "Jungle Cruise" (2021).