Charles Merritt finds that a film based on a table-top game made him smile but also uncovered some serious themes

D and D

The Film: Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

Rating: 12A

Watch if you liked: Lord of the Rings, Game Night, Spaceballs

Running time: 134 minutes

Genre: Adventure, Action, Fantasy, Comedy

Overview: A group of thieves go on an ever evolving campaign to reunite a father with his daughter whilst ending up saving the day.

What you liked:

This is such a fun ride of a movie. It’s not your deep-thinker, nor does it intend to be, but it’s filled with incredibly choreographed action pieces, great characters and clever comedy.

The comedy in this film largely hit and sometimes had me giggling to myself minutes later after the joke had been told/seen. There’s a really funny gag at the beginning of the film which involves the lead characters escaping jail and it is so stupid it is still making me laugh right now.

I would almost describe the film as a Lord of the Rings parody - and while it doesn’t break the fourth wall - it reminded me of a Mel Brooks film or the Naked Gun trilogy in the style of jokes. It definitely doesn’t take itself seriously and yet has such a well-crafted narrative.

There are perfect pay-offs and inventive set pieces that hold the simple story together. I’ll confess, I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons (my limited knowledge of it is through Stranger Things) but I can see how they’ve structured the film to feel as though you are playing one of its campaigns. There’s a chapter like quality to it : Do this. Now do this. Uh-oh, you’re going to have to do this now. - which at times did feel slightly predictable but ultimately came to a perfect conclusion.

One of the many highlights of the film is an overweight dragon. I don’t know why, but seeing it sort of roll around after the protagonists really made me chuckle and provided epic action moments.

The cast are solid. Chris Pine is such an underrated movie star and it’s great to see him firing on all cylinders, charming and comedic as ever.

I would love a sequel and as I write this review I’m already starting to think about when I can go and see it again…

What you didn’t like:

Do you know what? I don’t think I have anything bad to say.

Thoughts for parents:

It’s got a fair bit of mild language, violence and horror elements. Most of it is used for comedic effect and isn’t too scary but there are a couple of moments that might cause younger viewers distress.

The theme of family seems to be a Hollywood mainstay at this point but this film has some other nuanced things to say.

Edgin, our main character, tragically loses his wife and spends the movie trying to bring her back from the dead. He seems to blame others for her death but eventually reveals that it is really himself that he blames.

Death is a huge part of life. It is something we all gain experience of at various points in our lives and is something that we all will face for ourselves. For some young people, death will feel very prevalent and may feel partly responsible for the loss of a loved one. The questions of ‘what if I had done this?’ or ‘what would have happened if I hadn’t left the house?’ may circle in their minds.

Jesus himself had to deal with loss. Those haunting two words in John 11:35 have such an impact for me: ‘Jesus wept.’ The concept of Jesus weeping blows my mind and yet brings a lot of comfort to know that he too experienced that emotional pit of grief. He knows how it feels to lose someone he loves.

And yet, there was resurrection. And there still is resurrection!

As we get ever closer to Easter Sunday, what joy is there to know that Jesus not only dealt with death in his time on earth but he dealt with death for eternity. He didn’t just raise Lazarus back to life, he will one day raise us all back to life. And he has given us life today too - life to the full.

How can we give young people safe spaces to explore the complex emotions of grief? How do we hold these things sensitively and not dismiss their real grief too quickly through talking about resurrection and eternal life? How do we support them in their journey of grief without robbing them of the hope of Jesus’ resurrection?

I’m not sure I have all the answers but Winston’s Wish is an amazing charity that supports young people who have been bereaved - I would highly recommend to look at their website for ideas as well as potentially taking a course for those of you who might be in a position where supporting bereaved young people is a live experience.

Edgin learns to find family and joy in those who remain. I hope and pray bereaved young people will too.

4 stars