A restaurant from Miami that's been penciled in for Dallas for four years has at long last arrived: Komodo, a Southeast-Asian-Inspired restaurant from Miami-based Groot Hospitality, will finally make its debut.

The Dallas location is in The Epic office tower at 2550 Pacific Ave., at the intersection of Good Latimer Freeway, and according to a release, it will open on April 7.

Founded in Miami, and one of an array of Miami concepts that's migrated to Dallas, Komodo is known for Southeast Asian-inspired cuisine, cocktails, eye-catching decor, and buzzy atmosphere. The first location opened in Miami's Brickell neighborhood, and is said to be among the most profitable restaurants in the United States. Sounds delicious!

Dallas has been in the works since 2019, and was forecast to open in 2022 until the pandemic intervened. So they've really stuck it through. This will be the first location outside of South Florida, representing a big step for Groot Hospitality, says founder David Grutman in a statement.

"To open our first property outside of South Florida in Dallas is a huge privilege and honor," Grutman says. "I’m so excited to bring our Groot Hospitality experience to Texas with Komodo. The restaurant is a perfect showcase of what we deliver: High-level hospitality, delicious food, luxe decor, marquee entertainment and shareable, memorable moments."

Komodo’s Dallas menu will feature Southeast Asian dishes developed and interpreted with a global approach, with rotating specials plus house favorites such as Peking duck, salmon tacos, miso Chilean seabass skewers, and plant-based Kung Pao chicken. There's also a full sushi bar.

Menu items that are exclusive to Dallas include Wagyu cuts of Texan beef such as tomahawk and filet, oh gee more steak; and Szechuan Texas quail using locally-sourced quail.

Komodo Dallas spans two stories and accommodates up to 270 diners, acaross tabletop, booth, and bar seating. Design by New York-based firm ICRAVE takes visual cues from Miami, including Komodo's signature illuminated “bamboo” cutout columns and duck display windows. The lounge area features eye-catching wallpaper and a dramatic fabric-draped corridor.

Groot Hospitality is a Miami Beach-based collective of restaurants, cafés, nightlife ventures and hotels formed in 2018. Properties include The Goodtime Hotel, the nightclubs LIV and Story, the restaurants Gekkō, The Key Club, Komodo, Papi Steak, Strawberry Moon, and Swan, all based in South Florida.

Old Navy

One Old Navy store in Dallas to hide gifts in pockets of spring dresses

Pockets News

A national retailer is giving women exactly what they want: pockets.

Old Navy, the clothing and accessories company owned by The Gap, is hosting an event at five stores across the U.S. including a Dallas store at The Shops at Park Lane.

The chain is inviting customers to join their celebration of dresses with pockets at five of its top-selling locations, where shoppers can find tokens worth $20 hidden in pockets of their new spring dresses.

This event will take place on April 1 at these five locations:

  • Dallas: 8170 Park Ln. #124
  • New York: 150 W 34th St
  • New York: 610 Avenue of the Americas
  • Roseville, California: 1244 Galleria Blvd.
  • Jacksonville, Florida: 10261 River Marsh Dr.

A spokesperson did not reveal how many $20 tokens would be at the store.

Old Navy is so down with pockets that it is doubling its inventory of dresses with pockets in its Spring 2023 line.

Pockets are actually a political thing, tied to women’s independence, and have countlessmemesdedicated to their liberating effect.

Centuries ago, men were in charge of holding money, documents, and keys, and got pockets. According to London's Victoria and Albert Museum, women didn't merit pockets because they did not have their own money to put in them.

The London Spectator demeaningly reported that "women had four external bulges already – two breasts and two hips – and a money pocket inside their dress would make an ungainly 5th."

It wasn't much better in the 20th century, when fashion designer Christian Dior allegedly stated that "men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration."

"If a 20th century woman wanted to bring anything with her, the only option was to carry a bag," notes CTV News.

To prop up its pocket initiative, Old Navy conducted a survey in February 2023 and found:

  • Over 50 percent of women say their favorite dresses have pockets.
  • 73 percent say pockets are an important haven for their hands, for warmth, or as a place for them in awkward situations.
  • 71 percent say discovering that a new frock has pockets is an instant mood booster.
  • 88 percent say they love the surprise of finding something they forgot about in a pocket.

Another survey conducted in 2018 found that women's pockets are nearly 50 percent smaller than men's pockets — a size difference that "perpetuates and reinforces gender inequality and is a manifestation of patriarchy," said Chair of Ryerson School of Fashion Ben Barry in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca.

U.S. website The Pudding measured the pockets on 80 pairs of men's and women's jeans with the same waist size and found that women's front jean pockets are 48 percent shorter and 6.5 percent narrower than men's.

Only 40 percent of women's front pockets were able to fit the iPhone X, 20 percent a Samsung Galaxy, and 5 percent the Google Pixel. Less than half of women's front pockets would fit a wallet specifically designed for front pockets.

And while 100 percent of men's pockets could handle the average male hand, only 10 percent of women's could fit a woman's hand.

Old Navy to the rescue, who've created an entire website for their pocket-clad dress styles at www.oldnavy.com/pockets.

Photo courtesy of Shiner Beer.

Shiner Beer crafts new barbecue joint at iconic Texas brewery

Road trip time

Lewis and Clark, Sonny and Cher, SpongeBob and Patrick. Duos float in and out of pop culture at hummingbird speed. But few have quite as much staying power as beer and barbecue. So, it’s only natural that one of Texas’ most iconic breweries would want to break out the smoker.

According to a release, Shiner Beer is untapping a new market with the April 1 grand opening of K. Spoetzl BBQ Co. Housed at the newly expanded Spoetzl Brewery, the eatery will welcome carnivores seven days a week.

Pitmaster Tommy Schuette, the former proprietor of the Shiner Barbeque Co., will lead the charge with the state’s holy trinity of smoked meats, including brisket, sausage, and ribs. Other favorites like pulled pork and chicken will be served alongside a meaty assortment of salads, loaded potatoes, and sandwiches.

Of course, no Texas barbecue joint can get away with skimping on the sides. Potato salad and pinto beans are served throughout the week, but weekend guests get a little extra. Diners can also opt for green beans, coleslaw, creamed corn, and giblet rice from Thursday through Saturday.

In celebration of K. Spoetzl BBQ’s debut, samples will be passed out between 10:30 am-6 pm on April 1. QR codes will also be scattered across the grounds giving visitors a chance to win gift cards, shirts, hats, and more. Diners will also be given a free beer token for every $25 spent at the restaurant that day.

In addition, budding influencers can post a picture of Schuette to social media to get a coupon for 10 percent off. (As a rule, pitmasters do not need a yassify filter.)

After the grand opening celebration, K. Spoetzl BBQ will be open daily. Hours are 10 am-4 pm, so plan accordingly.

Courtesy rendering

Hipster '80s-style roller skating rink to wheel into Dallas Design District

Skating News

Roller skating is wheeling in to Dallas' Design District via Ride On, a new adult-oriented rink opening at 170 Pittsburg St., at the corner of Riverfront Boulevard, in fall 2023.

According to a release, Ride On is from On Brand Hospitality, a new company formed by Adrian Verdin, previously of Jaxon Beer Garden at the AT&T Discovery District, who wanted to revive the present-day roller rink by infusing it with an "elevated" social experience.

It'll go into a space, still to be built, right next door to Texas Ale Project.

Ride On will be an "adults-only" roller skating rink, thank god — a “social drink rink” with a chef-driven menu, arcade area, DJ booth, and more.

The entire venue will span more than 17,000 square feet, with the rink itself coming in at 7,000 square feet.

It'll boast an '80s cyberpunk atmosphere, with a disco ball DJ booth in the center and state-of-the-art sound systems.

Skaters will skate on custom-made Ride On skates and be able to simultaneously enjoy craft cocktails and mocktails.

Outside of the rink, amenities will include an arcade, lounge, restaurant, and bar.

Verdin and Vyctoria (Torry) Cray, COO of On Brand Hospitality, want Ride On to be a place where guests can have fun and let loose, regardless of skating skills.

"We can say there is nothing like this in the world. Trust me, we’ve checked," Verdin says in a statement. "An adult-only roller rink, quality food and beverage, state of the art sound system, custom made skates and we can't wait to reveal who our chef is."

Delaware North

Texas Rangers unveil brisket croissant and more snax for '23 baseball season

Stadium Food News

The 2023 season for the Texas Rangers is underway, and so is the new menu at their home base Globe Life Field in Arlington. Are you ready for a brisket croissant?

According to a release, that is but one of the new items rolled out by their food service partner Delaware North, who have also expanded the amenities to include mobile ordering available at all seats.

Let's get to the bullets:

  • Arlington Eats, located near Section 101, is a rotating concept featuring Arlington-based restaurants and they're adding two newcomers for 2023: The Tin Cup and Cartel Taco Bar. They join three from last year: Ella B’s Restaurant, Prince Lebanese Grill, and Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery. Arlington Eats is open for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games, along with select premium matchups on weekdays.
  • Hurtado Barbecue, previously featured at Arlington Eats in 2022, is now the official barbecue partner at Globe Life Field with a standalone location at Section 141. Featured items include Brisket Elotes, Brisket Nachos, Brisket Sandwiches, and Beef Ribs.
  • 7-Eleven will serve a variety of Slurpee flavors near Sections 101 and 205, along with its new Big Bite Pizza at Sections 133 and 214.
  • Express Grill features Amazon's Just Walk Out technology and Amazon One. Two outlets, located near Sections 108 and 124, have cheeseburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage, corn dogs, packaged beer, spiked seltzers, soda, bottled water, chips, candies, and sundries.

pizza hot dogIt's all the ingredients of a pizza, on top of a hot dog.Delaware North

New Food Items
New food items include an over-the-top hot dog that's two feet long, a hot dog version of pizza, and a vegan sandwich that's a twist on the ol' BLT.

The list:

  • The Boomstick Burger: A new take on the iconic 2-foot-long hot dog, this variation features a 2-foot Nolan Ryan Beef patty topped with Texas Chili Company Chili, Rico's Nacho Cheese and Jalapenos, and Onion Rings on a brioche bun. Designed to feed up to four. Available at the Texas 24" stand at Section 132 for $34.99.
  • Brisket Croissant: Nolan Ryan beef brisket rolled between layers of croissant dough and baked, then topped with Sweet Baby Ray's donut-style glaze. Available at the Sweet Baby Rays stand at Sections 3, 123, and 230 for $9.99.
  • Corn Ribs: Corn on the cob split into "ribs," tossed with lime crema, and coated with cotija cheese and tajin spice. Available at the concession locations at Sections 3, 121, and 230 for $9.99.
  • Flamin Hot Cheetos Pretzel: A Bavaria-style sourdough pretzel dipped in Flamin Hot Cheetos Cheetle and coated in crushed Flamin Hot Cheetos. Available at the concession locations at Section 3, 12, 121, 208, and 233 for $8.99.
  • Pizza Dawwg: A Texas Chili Company All-Angus Beef hot dog topped with marinara, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni, then baked. Available at the concession locations at Sections 3, 133, and 214 for $11.99.
  • The PLT Sandwich: A vegan twist on a classic sandwich featuring a balsamic-glazed, grilled portabella mushroom topped with bibb lettuce and tomato. Served on vegan bread with vegan mayo. Available at the Visiting Vegan Stand at Section 101 for $14.99.

Mobile ordering
New for 2023, every seat in Globe Life Field will have access to mobile ordering with delivery via the MLB Ballpark app. Fans can order hot food items, snacks, and beverages through the mobile ordering section of the MLB Ballpark app, and items will be delivered to your seat. Available food and beverage selections may vary by seat location.

"We are continuously evaluating our operations and customer insights to understand how we can add even more variety – including with local partners – and bring new levels of convenience for fans at Globe Life Field,” says Casey Rapp, Delaware North’s general manager at the ballpark. “Between the culinary offerings, bolstered retail selection, and new fan-facing technology, there’s a lot to be excited about for the upcoming Rangers season.”


Hall Group to open new hotel in mixed-use re-do of Frisco office park

Hotel News

Frisco is getting a new hotel at one of the city's pioneering office developments: Called the Hall Park Hotel, Autograph Collection, it'll open at Hall Park, and will be part of the Autograph Collection Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy collection.

According to a release, construction is anticipated to be complete in late 2023, with an opening set for spring 2024.

The hotel is part of the first phase of a $7 billion new masterplan to shift Hall Park from an office focus into a live-work-play community. It'll be owned by Dallas-based Hall Group, and operated by Coury Hospitality.

Autograph Collection Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy is known for its diverse independent hotels that champion individuality.

Hall Park Hotel will feature:

  • world-class contemporary art
  • outdoor pool
  • 4,000 square-foot ballroom
  • state-of-the-art fitness center
  • chef-driven restaurant and lounge
  • expansive patio

There will be 224 guest rooms and 60 well-appointed suites, supporting both short term and longer stays, with a focus on business travelers, events, meetings, regional “staycationers,” and tourists visiting Toyota Stadium, The Star in Frisco, regional youth sports tournaments, the upcoming PGA of America complex, and Universal Studios Park.

This makes the second hotel for Hall Group, the first being the Hall Arts Hotel which opened in the Dallas Arts District in 2019; and the fifth Autograph Hotel in the DFW area (others include the Adolphus in downtown Dallas, Hotel Vin in Grapevine, the Sinclair in Fort Worth, and Hotel Drover in Fort Worth).

Coury Hospitality is based in Las Colinas, with a portfolio of more than 30 hotels and restaurants, including 10 hotels in the Autograph Collection.

“Our partnership with Autograph Collection Hotels provides the opportunity to deliver a one-of-a-kind property to the residents and visitors of Frisco that will include a museum-quality art collection and world-class food and wine offerings,” says Hall Group chairman and CEO Craig Hall. “Framed by views of the art-filled Kaleidoscope Park, which is currently underway, hotel guests will be able to experience Frisco not only as a business and sports hub but also as an emerging arts and culture destination.”

Other new developments at Hall Park include The Monarch, a 19-story, luxury apartment tower expected to open in the fourth quarter. It'll have 214 units with 29 floorplans, including eight penthouse units with oversized balconies and high-end appliances and finishes, spa-inspired master baths and park views.

Amenities include a club room with kitchen, pool, fitness center, outdoor grilling areas, yoga and meditation space, bike storage, pet washing area, and meeting space.

The base of the residential tower will hold a 10,000-square-foot eatery, slated to open in 2024, with a diverse selection of 10 unique, chef-driven restaurants.

They're also building The Tower at Hall Park, a 16-story office tower that shares a podium with the hotel and will boast multiple terraces on every suite level, outdoor amenity space, and direct park access. That tower will also include 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space facing Kaleidoscope Park. It's also forecast to open in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar is headed to Garland and more Dallas dining news

News You Can Eat

This roundup of restaurant news around Dallas is topped by a mega-exciting opening for Garland, plus new dishes for spring and lots of fresh new beverages.

Here's what's happening in Dallas restaurant news:

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, the casual dining restaurant known for its innovative twists on American dishes served with small mountain-town hospitality, is opening a location in Garland. It'll be located at 5180 N. President George Bush Highway, and marks their sixth in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. According to a release, it'll open in spring 2024.

“We look forward to bringing our concept of delicious food, warm hospitality and small mountain-town vibes to Garland. Lazy Dog has been received with open arms as we’ve joined new neighborhoods, and we can’t wait to be part of this community,” says Chris Simms, Lazy Dog founder & CEO in a statement.

Influenced by the lifestyle of the Rocky Mountains, Lazy Dog Restaurant serves made-from-scratch American food and drink with seasonally inspired ingredients. Other DFW locations are in Addison, Allen, Arlington, Euless, and Plano.

Salad and Go has four new drive-thru locations coming to DFW: 1102 W Main St, Lewisville April 1; 3401 Midway Rd, Plano April 3; 211 E. Euless Blvd, Euless April 10; and 3820 Belt Line Rd., Addison April 22.

Taco Bell opened a location at 12015 University Dr. in Frisco. This location utilizes Taco Bell's Endeavor model which is outfitted with the latest digital channels, free Wi-Fi, power outlets, and comfortable seating. The drive-thru features an easy-to-navigate menu board with an electronic ordering system.

A-T Bistro is the new name for Au Troisième, the Park Cities bistro that opened in Preston Center in 2022. A-T Bistro has been its nickname all along. Now they've decided to make it official. The restaurant is a nominee for Best New Restaurant in CultureMap's 2023 Tastemaker Awards and also madeTexas Monthly's "10 Best New Restaurants in 2023" list. In addition to the name change, A·T Bistro has also added a 600-square-foot outdoor dining space, 14-seat private dining room, 600-bottle wine cellar, Sunday brunch, daily lunch specials, and happy hour menu.

Boneless Butcher, the Dallas startup that makes vegan BBQ ribs and steaks, is now popping up at the Dallas Farmers Market every weekend with a small menu, three-to-four items including Korean BBQ burritos, a bulgogi steak sandwich, steak nachos, sloppy BBQ sliders, loaded steak nachos, and a banh mi.

La Madeleine has new limited-edition bakery items for spring: Blueberry & Lemon Individual Cheesecake topped with tart lemon whipped cream; Blueberry and Lemon Crepe with blueberry-cheesecake filling and fresh blueberries; and Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting. Three seasonal favorites are also returning: Lemon Blueberry Danish with blueberries and a lemon cream center; Lemon White Chocolate Chunk Cookie with tangy lemon glaze; and Lemon Poppyseed Muffin with a sweet lemon glaze drizzle.

Dog Haus has a new creation: the Pepperoni Pizza Sausage, a savory link with pork and fennel Italian sausage, pepperoni, mozzarella, tomato, and oregano. Guests can get it the Würst Way, served on King's Hawaiian rolls with spicy basil aioli and grated cheese; the Corn Dog Way dipped in Dog Haus’ root beer batter; and “Sliced Way” grilled and sliced with spicy basil aioli. A new item in the Absolute Würst Sausage Series arrives each month.

Cowboy Chicken, famous for its rotisserie chicken, has added chicken tenders to its menu, served with honey blaze, ranch, BBQ, and honey mustard sauces.

Genghis Grill has partnered with chef Robert Kabakoff on a trio of new Fried Rice bowls: Kimchi Fried Rice with spicy pickled cabbage, fried rice, scrambled egg, in spicy Korean chili sauce; Jambalaya with chicken, sausage, shrimp, onion, bell pepper, and dirty rice; Farmhouse with chicken, bacon, jalapeños, ranch seasoning, fried rice with carrots, bell pepper, onions, and a cream BBQ ranch sauce. They start at $8.49.

Dunkin' has new Breakfast Tacos with scrambled eggs, sharp white cheddar cheese, fire-roasted corn, and tangy lime crema in a soft flour tortilla, with or without bacon. What sets Breakfast Tacos apart is the fact that the fire-roasted corn takes center stage.

Cicis Pizza is collaborating with Mike’s Hot Honey to offer a Hot Honey pepperoni pizza, drizzled with the signature chili pepper-infused honey. Now through April 30, the Hot Honey Pizza will be in the third slot after Garlic Cheesy Bread and Pepperoni Pizza, or to-go, $10 for a medium, $12 for a large, or $15 for a giant.

Yogurtland, the self-serve frozen yogurt brand, has two new seasonal fro-yo flavors: Thai Tea and Boba Milk Tea, inspired by two classic tea experiences. Thai Tea frozen yogurt is new, with a bold black tea flavor and sweet cream notes. Boba Milk Tea is a returning flavor, with brown sugar notes. They also have a new limited-edition topping: rainbow mochi.

Chick-fil-A has brought back Watermelon Mint Lemonade after six years. It's available as Watermelon Mint Sunjoy, Watermelon Mint Iced Tea, and Watermelon Mint Frosted Lemonade, starting Monday, April 3. According to a release, the Watermelon Mint Lemonade has a devoted following. "Guests loved the Watermelon Mint Lemonade in 2017, so we are thrilled to bring it back to our menu and introduce new ways for guests to enjoy this flavor," a spokesperson says.

Gong Cha has a new Sparkling Series of bubbly beverages featuring combinations of fruit flavors, pearls, jelly, milk foam, and sparkling water: Sparkling Milk Foam Mango with Star Jelly, a bright, fruity and fizzy mango drink topped with milk foam and chewy, peach flavored jelly in star shapes; Sparkling Lychee with Mango Popping Pearls, a tropical fruit blend of lychee with bursts of mango in each pearl; and Sparkling Hibiscus with White Pearls — sweet & sour hibiscus drink with tart, floral flavor and chewy white pearls. The chain has seven locations in DFW.

Häagen-Dazs Shops has a new ice cream confection: Pineapple Coconut Shake, an alcohol-free ode to the classic piña colada, made from Häagen-Dazs Pineapple Coconut ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a slice of fresh pineapple, available April 1-June 14.

Milk Bar, the New York dessert company, has launched two new cookie types in grocery stores: bite-sized crunchy cookies (“crunchies”) and ready-to-bake cookie dough. Known for familiar-yet-unexpected items like their Compost Cookies, Milk Bar entered into the Grocery category in 2020. Crunchies will come in four flavors: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Toast, Pretzel-y Chocolate Chip, and Vanilla Butter Crunch, and sold at Whole Foods. The cookie dough comes in two flavors: Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow and Fruity Cereal, and is sold at Target and Kroger.

El Chico has two new cocktails featuring tropical flavors: Guava ‘Rita: with Monte Alban 100% Agave Silver Tequila, Gran Gala Orange Liqueur, Reàl Guava and margarita mix; and Sangria Swirl, a house frozen ‘Rita with El Toro Silver Tequila and red sangria swirl. Both are $7 and will be available April 3-July 3 at participating El Chico locations: 1549 S. Bowen Rd. Pantego; 7621 Baker Blvd., North Richland Hills; and 503 I-30, Rockwall.

Manhattan Project Beer is launching a blonde beer called Peacekeeper as a permanent offering. It's a blonde ale with a hint of guava and a crisp finish, and will be available in cans, and on tap at some bars, still TBA.

WES Brands, the Dallas-based company launched after the $610 million sale to Diageo of Aviation American Gin, has a slate of executive hires: Shawn Thurman as CEO, Sean Penn to President & COO, Kyle Stein as President, Lauren Ryan-Kiyak as Senior VP of Marketing, and Chris Jebbia as Senior VP of Finance. The company is focused on the growth of its existing brands — Mark Wahlberg's Flecha Azul Tequila and Jamie Foxx’s BSB Flavored Whiskey — and soon-to-launch spirits brands.

Chili’s is no longer using children’s activity placemats that promote keeping parrots and monkeys as pets, after a complaint was lodged in Nebraska. The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance collaborated with PETA to discourage use of the placemats.

Goofiness keeps Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves light on its feet

Movie Review

In the franchise world in which we now live, movie studios are always looking for the next big thing that will ensure fans come flocking to the theater. The role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has gotten a pop cultural boost in recent years thanks to the Netflix show Stranger Things, and now – just shy of its 50th anniversary – it’s getting its own blockbuster movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

The somewhat complex story centers on two of the titular thieves, Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), who lead a group of rogues who make a living by stealing, but only from those who deserve it. One such altruistic mission, a relic that can bring back the dead, leads to the pair getting caught and put in jail, separating Edgin from his daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman).

Fellow thief Forge (Hugh Grant) agrees to look after her, but after a daring escape, Edgin and Holga discover that Forge is even more of a scoundrel than they thought, rising to the title of Lord in their absence with the help of the sorceress Sofina (Daisy Head), and poisoning Kira’s mind against them. They must gather the rest of the team, including Simon (Justice Smith) and Doric (Sophia Lillis), to try to take him down and recover the relic once and for all.

Written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, with help from co-writer Michael Gilio, the film has the unenviable task of turning the famously dense game into something that pleases both fanatics and those unfamiliar with its many characters, creatures, and locations. It’s clear the filmmakers are trying to strike a balance between the two, loading the story with terms they barely attempt to explain while at the same time making the movie as goofy as possible.

Only the second of those two approaches truly works. The problem the filmmakers run into is that this is an introductory film that barely seems to care about introducing its characters. A lengthy speech by Edgin at the beginning attempts to do that, but is staged in such a way that the humor of sequence takes precedence over the details of the people. The only reason the characters wind up likable is because of the sheer amount of time spent with them and the actors’ performances.

Well, that and the comedy sprinkled throughout the film. If Daley, Goldstein, and Gilio do anything right, it’s not taking the material too seriously. The world has already seen Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, so adding in funny elements like the wise-cracking Edgin, a supremely fat dragon, and more keeps the film from getting lost in its own minutiae. Not all the jokes land, but 75-80 percent of them do, which is enough to keep the film buoyant.

Pine, as he’s shown in the recent Star Trek and Wonder Woman films, has charm to spare. He occupies this particular role extremely well, and so even if you can’t remember his character’s name, his performance carries the film. Rodriguez is an acquired taste, but her surly demeanor and physical prowess works for her here. The supporting actors shine at times, but the film doesn’t showcase them enough to make them stand out.

While miles better than the reviled 2000 Dungeons & Dragons, Honor Among Thieves is a merely okay beginning for a possible new franchise. There’s some excitement to be had and it stays light on its feet thanks to the comedy, but more attention paid to the story is warranted if they decide to make sequels.


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens in theaters on March 31.

Dallas International Film Festival sneak-peeks first 17 films at 2023 event

Cinema for All

The Dallas International Film Festival is back, with a glorious return to where it started, in the West Village at Violet Crown Cinema, and the unveiling of its first 17 films, including a documentary on a member of rock band Pantera, and another on a legendary Fort Worth artist.

The 17 films represent a fraction of the programs shown during the festival, which will take place from April 28-May 5.

"These films are just a glimpse of the powerful stories we’re honored to present at DIFF 2023,” says James Faust, DIFF Artistic Director, in a statement. "Highlighting important and untold stories that have been explored by talented filmmakers, our first 17 of our 17th should whet the appetite of local film lovers who we hope will join us at Violet Crown Cinema Dallas in West Village for Dallas’ biggest film experience."

Ultimately, there will be screenings of more than 100 films submitted from more than 60 countries, as well as Q&A sessions with filmmakers and actors, nightly DIFF Red Carpets, a Festival Lounge, and special events.

The festival's central location is at the newly opened Violet Crown Cinema, formerly the Magnolia Theatre, which closed in 2021 due to the pandemic, and which hosted multiple previous versions of the festival.

Highlights of the initial films include the world premiere of Chocolate Lizards, a comedy/adventure about a pair of men (Rudy Pankow and Thomas Haden Church) who find themselves stranded in a small Texas town; A Disturbance in the Force: How the Star Wars Holiday Special Happened, a documentary about the weird 1978 Star Wars TV special; and It's Only Life After All, a documentary about The Indigo Girls.

Dallas connections
The list also includes a number of films with local connections, including Breaking the Code, a documentary about legendary Fort Worth artist Vernon Fisher; Gibson Icons: Rex Brown of Pantera, a documentary that focuses on the longtime bassist for the Arlington band; Into the Spotlight, a world premiere documentary about a Dallas-based theatre troupe comprised of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and The Doldrums, a world premiere "not-coming-of-age and anti-musical" filmed in Dallas.

The remaining 10 films include seven documentaries and three fictional dramas:

  • Bad Press (Documentary), about a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation fighting for government transparency in indigenous communities.
  • Blue Jean (Drama), about a closeted gym teacher in 1988 conservative England.
  • Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection (Documentary), about the late singer's personal struggles told through never-before-released recordings.
  • Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes (Documentary), about the American jazz musician whose ambitions were inspired and challenged by the inequities of the society around him.
  • Savage (Documentary), a world premiere about the journey of one man trying to achieve the elusive dream of becoming a world champion bull rider.
  • SK8 Girlz (Documentary), about the rise of an all-female skateboarding team as they tear down the barriers created by a male-centric sport.
  • The Eternal Memory (Documentary), a Chilean film that follows the relationship of prominent Chilean journalist Augusto Góngora and actress Paulina “Pauli” Urrutia.
  • The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution (Documentary), a meme-driven journey into the intersection of finance, media, and extremism online.
  • The Origin of Evil (Thriller/Drama), a French and Canadian film about a fish cannery worker on the verge of financial collapse who discovers she is the biological daughter of a wealthy businessman.
  • The Wild Man (Drama), about a young journalist who travels to Florida to investigate young women that have been going missing.

Passes for the festival, which run $100-$500, are now on sale at dallasfilm.org/diff. Individual tickets will go on sale closer to the festival dates.