I’ve been feeling extremely down lately, and then, this film came along and just like that, it shone a ray of light on my gloomy Sunday! Even though I’ve only been familiar with a couple of Capcom’s ‘Dungeons & Dragons’-themed beat ‘em ups, and have never played the tabletop ‘alpha’ that influenced many RPGs, I was almost instantly pulled into the world of Daley and Goldstein’s high fantasy. (Oh yeah, I also did watch that notorious 2000 movie, but I can’t remember much of it.)
The band of unlikely heroes that guide the viewer through their larger-than-life adventure makes for the very heart of the story that may be formulaic, but it is damn exciting! Laced with a neat blend of great humor and unexpected poignancy, it brims with hazardous challenges, from a morbidly obese dragon to a trap-infested maze to a powerful sorceress. (Speaking of whom, her clan of mages that can turn humans into zombies actually reminded me of the scummy political ‘sect’ that rules my country, but I’m being awfully nice here, the real monsters are more insidious.) And the pacing is mostly brisk!
All members of the ensemble cast seem to enjoy their roles, and each one of them is allowed a place under the spotlight, and as far as I’m concerned, they do a fine job in earning the sympathies. When it comes to the youngest of protagonists – a shapeshifter (or rather, Wild Shape) Doric portrayed by lovely Sophia Lillis, it is CGI that complements the character, providing you with one exceptionally memorable scene featuring a beautiful fictitious beast called Owlbear. The production design is top-notch, with generous amounts of eye-candy served in the form of dwarf villages, Gothic edifices and caves overflowing with lava, inter alia, their epicness elevated by an evocative score imbued with folksy notes.