(Never let it be said I can't write good clickbait headlines when I want to.)
So, there is a new D&D film coming out. I am so thoroughly and profoundly outside of its target audience (I don't even really watch films per se anymore, let alone big blockbustery ones) that I feel like a churl even expressing an opinion about it. So, sorry for the disappointment; I'm not actually going to do the 13 reasons thing. What I will do is express some reservations about the aesthetic on display in the trailer.
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films are responsible for a lot - and above all for staking out a particular highly influential mood and look, which I suppose one could call 'Dimly Lit LARP with CGI Andy Serkisface Monsters'. When I was a university student, there was a 'Scandinavian Society' on campus who would get together on Sunday morning to hold re-enactments of viking raids. My friends and I used to watch, hungover, from our dorm windows; it was on the one hand impressive (a lot of time and energy went into all the costumes) and yet on the other very anticlimactic - an awful lot of fuss and shouting over essentially nothing. If you were to take that basic framework and bolt on lots of CGI creatures participating in all the fuss and shouting over nothing and make them all look a bit like Andy Serkis, and then shoot the whole thing at night when it's raining and visibility is poor, and possibly hire a Hollywood actress to stand in the middle of everything looking very serious while waving a sword and mouthing important-sounding gibberish, you capture this aesthetic perfectly. You all know what it is intimately; you know it the instant you see it. It is just what modern fantasy cinema and TV looks like.
D&D: Honour Among Thieves looks as though it is moving us into new territory, and for that we should be grateful. It appears as though the viewer will actually be able to see what is happening clearly and there may even be some sequences happening during the daytime. There is also a distinct lack of baddies who look like Andy Serkis. This is all very welcome.
However, we seem to have reached a point of technological advancement at which, while it is possible to make CGI monsters look 99.9% real, they still don't quite - with the result being a viewing experience taking place at the bottom of uncanny valley. When watching a cartoon, or a Ray Harryhausen film, one's imagination works overtime to paper over all of the obvious differences between what one is seeing on screen and what it would really 'look like', and the result is a satisfying amalgamation of the director's vision and the viewer's. When watching real people do real things, the viewer's imagination is largely irrelevant, and he or she can enjoy the director's vision unfiltered. What we seem to have achieved with modern blockbusters is a (to me) undesirable middle ground, in which the director is able to realise a vision which is very close to what a real owlbear (say) would actually look like, but not quite; the consequence is the viewers spend most of their time simply studying the behaviour of the CGI creations on screen and being aware they don't look altogether real. This communicates a feeling of weightlessness and lack of consequence, and ruins immersion - what is taking place in the film comes to appear like, well, a film.
I personally would prefer watching a very brilliantly realised animation to a bunch of real actors running around playing make-believe amidst not-quite-real-looking monsters. But maybe this is why I am firmly beyond that target audience, as I mentioned.