Why “Dungeons and Dragons ” can be the most successful game adaption movie in recent years?

By Maggie Ma

In the past, there were very few movies adapted from games that ended up successful usually due to weakness in storytelling. However, “Dungeons and Dragons: Glory of the Grand Thief” that will be released this week could be an exception. The movie premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW for short) recently received really good reviews. Why this one is different?

“Dungeons and Dragons: Glory of the Grand Thief” recently held media screenings and preview screenings for the public in US, and the response was very enthusiastic. Most of the media’s first reactions use “fun” and “exciting” to describe the movie. After seeing it, I felt the difference of this one from other game adapted movies is not really the special effects but the way to use special effects and humor in unexpected ways. In other words, the script is still the main reason this movie doesn’t fall into the one of the clichés. From beginning to the end, there are many unexpected plot twists and jokes keep the plot fresh and exciting. Every character is unique in its own way and has its moment to shine.

“Dragon and Dungeon: Grand Thefte Glory” was originally a role-playing game, and it is very well known in the United States. This fantasy world in the game is actually quite similar to the middle-earth world in Lord of the Rings with diverse characters, creatures, and magic. This game is suitable for multiple people to play together. It emphasizes teamwork, strategies and adventurous spirits. Every roll of the dice will have various rules and ability restrictions. There is no clear winner or loser, but fun in the process of collective combat.

Adapted into a movie this time, the protagonists of the movie include the human thief Edgin (Chris Pine) and the heroic female warrior Holga (Michelle Rodriguez). The two were arrested for theft. After escaping from prison, they discovered that they were betrayed and framed by their former accomplice Forge (Hugh Grant), who also kidnapped Edgin’s daughter. In order to save his daughter, Edgin teams up with Holga and other warriors, wizards, and rangers along the way, conquer all the challenges to expose the evil plan of Forge.

One of the main reasons why this film is attractive is that each character has its own characteristic and a sense of humor. It captures the fun of playing a game rather than treating it with a serious tone. Even there is not a lot of time spent to introduce the characters’ backgrounds, you can clearly see their uniqueness in their interactions. Writer/directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, with co-writer Michael Gilio, made sure all the characters have their time to shine and also generate laughs on the way. Maybe the special effects of this film are not necessarily the best among Hollywood blockbusters, but what is interesting is that the plot is full of surprises. For example, the appearance and defeat of monsters are often unexpected, and when people expect something to happen, the plot turns in other directions. Characters often specify a lot of plans, but almost every time they encounter various accidents and cannot execute them, while there are also some seemingly dangerous situations got to be solved easily with luck.

Michelle Rodriguez is known for  “Fast and Furious” series, but she has always played serious and strong women before. She is still in charge of many fighting scenes this time, but her character is also very funny and lovable, can be straightforward and cynical, serving many laughs throughout the film.

Chris Pine, who is in his 40s, has played significant characters in “Star Trek”, “Wonder Woman” and “Jack Ryan” series, is not new to adventurous movies but unfortunately, his movies all failed to make into trilogies. This time, the thief he played named Edgin is witty, brave and a good leader in responsible of coming up with great strategies.  He is the brain of this team. He has done things he was not proud of but is willing to change into a good person for his daughter.  Chris Pine ‘s Edgin is charming and fun. Through him, Chris Pine even has the opportunity to show off his singing voice.

Edgin and Holga work with amateur wizard Simon (Justice Smith) and shapeshifter Doric (Sophia Lillis) on this quest. The movie balances the four leads in each action scenes more equally than many other big blockbusters team-up movies do. The cast has good chemistry together as well.

Veteran British movie star Hugh Grant played the cunning villain but it’s  Daisy Head’s witch Sofina steals the show with horrifying visuals and stunning performance. Another famous Hollywood actor, Bradley Cooper also has a hilarious cameo performance in the film.

“Dragon and Dungeon: Grand Thief Glory” is not as profound as “Lord of the Rings” but brings the similar excitements for audiences. This game adaption incorporate various interesting characters, and has the potential to extend its own “universe” .  Recently, many superhero blockbusters performed poorly in box office, may be “Dragon and Dungeon: Grand Thief Glory”  can bring some freshness to audiences and prove that no matter who much money you spent on special effect, a well-written script is the key.

“Dungeons and Dragons: Glory of Grand Thieves” will be released on the March  31st.