Weekend film reviews: ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ ‘Rye Lane,’ more

Written by Amy Ta and Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Sarah Sweeney

This big screen adaptation of the seminal fantasy table-top game stars Chris Pine, Michele Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant. Credit: YouTube.

The latest film releases are “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” “Rye Lane,” “A Thousand and One,” and “The Five Devils.” KCRW gets reviews from Tim Grierson, senior U.S. critic for Screen International and the author of “This Is How You Make a Movie," and Katie Walsh, film reviewer for the Tribune News Service, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wrap.

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves”

This big screen adaptation of the seminal fantasy table-top game stars Chris Pine, Michele Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant, and is directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.

Walsh: “For someone who's a huge fan of the game, they're gonna love all these little Easter eggs and references and things. … I'm just enjoying the fact that Chris Pine is being a charm bomb. And Hugh Grant is literally just playing himself, and being foppish and fumbly and grinning from ear to ear. And Michelle Rodriguez is being a very tough warrior, as she always is. So it's like they geniously made it accessible to people who have no idea what this game is.”

Grierson: “My one reservation about ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ though I do think it's fun and I think it's a fun cast, is I think that Goldstein and Daley have a tougher time merging the … big action set pieces with more of the comedy elements. … There's too much of a sense of wanting to make a blockbuster, as opposed to making more of a light-hearted action comedy.”

“Rye Lane”

Directed by Raine Allen Miller and premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, this romantic comedy is about dating and breakups in London. It stars David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah. 

Walsh: “‘Rye Lane’ is so fun. It's a super charming, British rom-com set in South London. It is in the model of ‘Before Sunrise,’ ‘Before Sunset,’ where two people encounter each other, and then spend a day walking around and getting to know each other. David Jonsson and Vivian Opar are super charming. He's kind of a nerd. She's very bold and confident, and he needs to go have dinner with his ex-girlfriend who's dating his friend, and she needs to go get her Tribe Called Quest vinyl back from her ex-boyfriend. So they help each other on these missions.”

Grierson: “This is the feature debut of Raine Allen Miller as a filmmaker, and she does this thing in terms of bringing London alive in a way that feels very exciting, but doesn't feel very forced. One of the things I really appreciate about ‘Rye Lane’ as a movie is that while it is a rom-com… it really takes its time in terms of having these two characters fall in love. But actually, it takes a long time because really, they're just getting to know each other.” 

“A Thousand and One”

Teyana Taylor plays a mom who is struggling to raise her son, who she kidnapped out of the foster care system. It is directed by AV Rockwell and won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

Walsh: “This film takes place from 1994 to 2005, and it is putting their story against the gentrification of Harlem and the social changes in New York City. She's been in prison. Her partner has been in prison. So they're also affected by that as well. I loved this film, I thought it was really well made, a really complex story but also simple at the same time. And it's really anchored by Teyana Taylor, but also by the three young actors who play her son Terry.” 

Grierson: “The movie does this really excellent job of showing how — whether it's the foster care system or the prison system in this country — that even if you are out of those systems, you still feel this stigma of being part of them. This movie does a very good job of really showing what poverty feels like. Not just in terms of not having certain material goods, but how it emotionally affects these characters. There are a couple plot things that happened near the end that feel a little bit more forced. But that's just a mild reservation on my part. I think this movie is really good.”

“The Five Devils”

A young girl has a magical power that allows her to recognize and reproduce any smell. It stars Adèle Exarchopoulos and Sally Dramé. 

Walsh: “It has supernatural elements and witchy elements, especially with the young daughter, Sally Dramé, who is very motivated by scent as memory and as a way of accessing other planes of understanding and being. I just think Adèle Exarchopoulos is so good. She's … a very physical actor. She plays a former gymnast who now swims in these like alpine lakes for fun with her young daughter. And it takes place in … a part of a mountainous ski resort region of France. So the setting’s really interesting. Yeah, I just found this film really enchanting. I think it's beautifully shot and edited. And I loved the music as well. So very interesting, cool French movie.”

Grierson: “This movie is all vibes. … It does establish early on that the young girl, Vicky, can conjure up the past through smells. And through those the smells of these different characters that she's around, she will discover things about her family from before she was born, and the secrets that her mother and father and the father's sister have been hiding from her. And so in some ways, the movie is like a mystery or almost a thriller. … But at the same time, ‘The Five Devils’ is also about small town communities, and about the racism and homophobia in those types of communities.”




Michell Eloy