I have to admit that back in the mid 90s, I was the kind of teenager who not only owned a 20-sided dice, but also used it with lethal efficiency to slay all kinds of mythical and gnarly beasties. I played D&D, collected Warhammer Space Marines, went to comic fairs, and spent countless hours of my life battling through every kind of adventure and fantasy game available for my glorious Amiga 1200.
But while this was dangerous behaviour for a teenage lad back then, gaming, fantasy and RPGs are largely seen as cool and mainstream. With huge interest in online gaming and with fantasy films topping cinema and download charts, it is a fantastic time to be a fan of all things swords and sorcery.
That's been aided further by the 2023 release of Baldur’s Gate 3 – a game sequel that has won numerous awards and proved the most surprising hit of the year. It has also opened up the genre to yet another generation of fans, to boot.
So, if you enjoyed the mammoth game on PC, PS5 or Xbox Series X/S, then why not check out our selection of movies and TV shows available on streaming services that will keep you in the mood for warriors, mages, orcs, barbarians, and things with way too many arms, legs, squishy bits and teeth... just make sure you roll a 12.
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
- Where: Disney+
- Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max Von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman
- Directed by: John Milius
This is Arnie at his absolute peak, shouting random slogans while swinging a huge sword. I mean, what else could anyone want in a movie??
Seen by many as his first real Hollywood lead and the first step in a career that has spanned decades, John Milius' Conan the Barbarian is not to be confused with the lesser, more recent outing that bears the same name. The 1980s epic brought a young Arnold to the screen in his post Mr Olympian glory, and gave him the simple goal of avenging his murdered parents, while killing just about everyone who stood in his way.
Conan the Barbarian was a huge success in its day and proved to be the spark that lit an entire generation of sword and fantasy movies. It was bold, violent, unrelenting and although ridiculous at times (especially when watched today), it kept its overall tone serious and focused. Arnold, as you would expect for the time, keeps the talking down to a minimum, letting his physicality do the work, hacking and slashing his way through the world while wearing as little as possible.
Quickly followed up by an expanded, but not as good, sequel, Conan The Destroyer, plus an offshoot in Red Sonja, this first adaptation of Robert E. Howard's pulp fantasy novels stands as an all time classic of its genre. Surprisingly, even in 2024, it's still well worth a watch, especially if you are planning any kind of D&D related event or gaming session... Crom!!
- Where: Netflix
- Stars: Hailee Steinfield, Kevin Alejandro, Jason Spisak, Harry Lloyd, Ella Purnell
- Created by: Pascal Charrue, Arnaud Delord
Based on characters and scenarios from the incredibly popular League Of Legends game series, Arcane came out of nowhere in 2021 and absolutely blew people away. That's thanks to its rich, involved and mature story, beautiful visual style and stunning performances from the voice cast.
Quite simply, it is outstanding in every way. The animated show features a truly immersive world and possibly the most beautiful art direction we have ever seen... and yes, that does include Spiderverse and Mitchell's Vs The Machines.
This show breaks boundaries, bringing a computer game adaptation into what would be described as "mainstream". It’s absolutely stunning from start to finish and is very easy to become massively invested in. Arcane is brave, bold and ultimately beautiful.
Even with the huge history of well established lore behind it, the show is still open and accessible to those who simply drop in. That's a clear marker of the writing talent, and at no point is it exclusive to those who play the game. However, by honouring the lore of League of Legends with love and respect, it is equally enjoyable to existing fans too.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
- Where: Paramount+
- Stars: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Rege-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Chloe Coleman, Sophia Lillis
- Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
If a few years ago critics had said that the sleeper hit of 2023 would be a low budget movie that pays homage to the Dungeons & Dragons universe, they would have been chased out of the village using pitchforks.
But they would also have been right, gloriously right.
Not to be confused with the largely awful movies of the mid-2000s, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is an absolute gift to the world in every way. To the fans of the franchise, it was an honest and respectful love letter to everything they have valued for years. It's a film that at no point pokes fun at the tabletop game and those who love it, but instead shows how involving it can be and how much it is loved.
Following the simple and often-covered premise of a band of random characters thrown together in a quest to retrieve a magic thing, to stop an evil thing, the plot is hardly inventive, but the way it is done is what sets the movie apart. There is warmth and love in every scene, respect for the franchise and the fans, humour and adventure in equal measure, and some fantastic performances from the ensemble cast. It is a real treat to watch, even from an outsider's perspective – a homage to the sword and sorcery movies of the 1980s that manages to build upon an established world and invites the viewer in to discover more.
Unsurprisingly, the release of the film and its success has led to a growth in the amount of people now looking to get into actual D&D playing and those choosing fantasy games in general. And surely in the dumpster fire that is the 2020s, an escape from reality simply cannot be seen as a bad thing?