MOVIES: Two of or about super popular games and a sequel that brings Sandler and Aniston back together

There’s a blockbuster sequel and also plenty of games and murder in this week’s new movies. A game sends us a great adventure. Another tells a true story laced with international and corporate intrigue. The violence is similar to that of John Wick, set in South Korea and also corporate.

Here is the list:

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: 4 Stars

tetris: 3

You can live forever: 3 ½

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS HONOR AMONG THIEVES: A rarity. A movie based on a game that is actually very good. Bring out your love for adventure movies, like old swashbucklers, and fantasy, like Lord of the Rings, and you will surely enjoy this one. The game has been around for almost 50 years and is credited with starting the RPG genre that is so popular these days, especially on the internet. And no, you don’t have to know anything about the game (I’ve never played it), but I’m told fans will find plenty of references, aka Easter eggs, to make them happy. More importantly, the movie respects the game, not like the previous movies that joked too much and flopped at the box office. This one just goes with the implausible and impossible events and has fun doing it.

Chris Pine stars as a likable rogue and thief trying to make amends for his life. His wife has been murdered and his daughter has fallen under the spell of a villain, played with unctuous aplomb by Hugh Grant. He proclaims, “I’m prepared to do terrible things to get what he wants.”

Courtesy of Paramount

There’s a comic glint in his eye when he says it, just a hint and not enough to make fun of it. (He comes off much better than Jeremy Irons as another villain in an earlier movie.) Pine can resurrect his wife if he can get to the Tablet of Awakening. It is locked in a vault in the city Grant controls and requires the Helmet of Disjunction to reach it. (Mystical fantasy, that is, for sure.)

Joining Pine on this quest are Michelle Rodriguez as a tough barbarian, Justice Smith as an insecure sorcerer, and Sophia Lillis as a young druid. They will meet a variety of assorted wizards, soldiers, creatures, and beings just like in those games. An obese dragon is a highlight, as is a sequence on a rock bridge that requires exact procedures to cross. They don’t meet and what happens next is very reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. The film is written and directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daly, who (as in their previous work) spin a fun-adventure flick. (In theaters) 4 of 5

TETRIS: While we’re on the subject of electronic games, here’s the story behind one of the most popular: Tetris, with those constantly falling bricks that you have to assemble into complete lines. You may not know that there is an international thriller complex behind it. The film, by Scottish director Jon S. Baird, the account is based on true events but you do have to wonder what part of it is true. A car chase through Moscow with the KGB in pursuit seems imaginary. It also gives the impression that Tetris brought down the Soviet Union. It’s surely an exaggeration, although we see an actor like Gorbachev saying that the USSR is broke and needs a Tetris deal. The movie is about that deal.

Courtesy of Apple TV+

An American businessman (Taron Egerton) sees the game displayed at a consumer electronics show in Law Vegas, realizes that the rights are not locked, and tracks down the inventor (Nikita Efremov) in Russia. That upsets the authorities who see him as a capitalist trying to steal from Russia. Foreigners are not allowed to enter a state business office without an official invitation. He does it anyway. Competitors appear, including one (Toby Jones) who gets some rights, and from England, the swaggering industrialist Robert Maxwell, played by Roger Allam. The rivalry intensifies as they fight over different rights, arcade, computer or handheld, and over price. You may not have expected these negotiations to be so exciting. Or a movie today to be so anti-USSR. This is practically a Cold War treaty where everyone is being watched, there is nothing to buy in the stores, the people are poor and the officials are corrupt. But it is exciting. (AppleTV+) 3 of 5

YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER: Add this to the list of young lesbian romances. It’s a genre that has brought quite a few titles in recent years and this one is so sensitively real that it’s sure to resonate. Not just with gays, but with anyone who enjoys a love story. Add this complication, it takes place in a Jehovah’s Witness community, and you get a very interesting thread. And because Sarah Watts, who co-wrote and co-directed the film with Mark Slutsky, grew up in a Witness community, he feels authentic.

Jaime (Anwen O’Driscoll), whose father has just died and whose mother needs time to heal, is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Quebec. They are Witnesses and she is expected to obey the rules. No parties or birthdays are celebrated. And “field service” is required.

Courtesy of Mongrel Media

She sits through the national anthem in one scene and in another has a craving for cake that she can’t have. And gay romance is wrong. But at church she makes eye contact with sweet Marike (played by Vancouver’s June Laporte) and the two find themselves drawn to each other. Marike is devoted; Jaime is no longer skeptical. That difference drives the drama. The film does not criticize; try to understand. She does a good job of presenting the beliefs, including that Armageddon will be followed by Paradise and that “no one will grow old.” This is basically a teen romance, but an atypical one. (In theaters: Toronto as of last week, now adding Vancouver and Montreal) 3 ½ of 5

MURDER MYSTERY 2: Four years ago, Netflix had one of its biggest hits with the first movie and here’s the sequel. It’s not as good as the original, the humor is forced, the pace is hectic, and the story doesn’t flow as smoothly. It makes you wonder if Adam Sandler really deserved the Mark Twain Comedy Prize he recently received. When the event was shown on TV, it was heavily peppered with advertisements for this movie.

Courtesy of Netflix

Sandler and Jennifer Aniston are Nick Spitz and his wife Audrey. They get a call from a friend they made in that previous movie who invites them to his wedding. When they get there, they kidnap him. They’re the right people to figure it out because he’s an ex-cop (although not like he lied, a detective) and now together they run their own agency. They can claim experience. We can too because what happens is very similar to what we have seen before. There is the bride (Mélanie Laurent), the groom’s sister (Kuhoo Verma), a former soccer player (Enrique Arce) and a mysterious countess (Jodie Turner-Smith). They are all recognizable from TV series or movies. Several are suspects. Mark Strong, as an MI-6 agent from England, arrives to investigate and the action finally takes us to Paris and the Eiffel Tower, where Aniston is made to hang over the side. Silly, kinda funny but second rate. (Netflix) 2 ½ of 5

KILL BOKSOON: Want more like John Wick? Here’s a South Korean movie with some pretty strong similarities. There is an association of assassins with a boss known as El Presidente who says in a speech that “killing is now a global business… we have earned respect.” He runs a company with a board of directors and strict rules. Never kill minors. Only do kills that the company sanctions and really do what the company sanctions. One member, Gil Boksoon (the title is a nickname) refuses to carry out an order and gets into serious trouble. What makes this remarkable: she is a woman. “Women aren’t really known for killing,” someone says.

Courtesy of Netflix

She is a single mother with a teenage daughter and fully appreciates her situation. “Killing people is easier than raising a child,” she says. She is reluctant to renew her contract and each event to come tests her decision to stay out of it. It’s a different take on that modern dilemma: balancing her work and her private life. The movie is too fancy. An early kill is seen entirely in a reflection in a puddle of water on a street. There is a fight pitting a knife against a margic marker. There is a knife fight in a mannequin room. Another fight turns into a big fight. There are also competitors, younger assassins who come unfettered by the rules. The film is violent and flashy with a touch of philosophy. (Netflix) 2 ½ of 5

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