The new film from Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley is a fun and hilarious adventure film, that honors the source material game without being too closed off to those unfamiliar with the game.
For decades, Dungeons and Dragons, the fantasy table-top role-playing game has captivated players, worked its way into the pop culture masses, and provided an opportunity for a community for freaks, geeks, and pop culture icons alike (we miss you, Eddie Munson). The game, which first emerged in 1974, has managed to keep its popularity among players, amidst the ever-evolving landscape of role-playing games, likely due to its ability to provide players the ability to escape into a world of their own creation with characters they’ve created.
With Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, audiences are invited into the world of Dungeons and Dragons, but the characters aren’t controlled by dice. Instead, they’re driven by a witty screenplay and fun performances.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves follows the story of a bard named Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), who is on a quest to find the Tablet of Reawakening to resurrect his deceased wife. But of course, like its source material, no task is ever as simple as it is on the surface level. With the help of his friend, Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), Edgin must continue his quest whilst simultaneously fighting to rescue his daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman), from con artist Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant) and escaping certain death on a few occasions. As the journey continues, the party size grows, eventually adding members, among which include Simon Aumar (Justice Smith) and Doric (Sophia Lillis), a tiefling druid.
The movie shines best with its screenplay. Packed with humor, the movie allows for a healthy dose of wit and laugh out loud moments. While there are certainly a fair amount of inside jokes that will resonate with those familiar with the game, its not at the expense of someone less familiar with Dungeons and Dragons. While the third act may drag a bit (at a 2 hour and 15 minute run time), the plot is fun, and true to a D&D campaign, is fraught with detours and obstacles that keep the story interesting.
The cast is also well stacked, with Chris Pine leading the ensemble with a level of debonair charm that one can only expect of Pine. Michelle Rodriguez serves as a good counterpart to Pine, and the two play off each other’s humor well. The ensemble cast is also strong, with standouts including the ever-dashing Regé-Jean Page as paladin Xenk Yendar and, of course, Hugh Grant, who never disappoints in an over-the-top villain role (see: Paddington 2).
The costumes for this film maintain the fantastical aesthetic one can expect out of a fantasy film. While the movie does not hold back on CGI, with the entire world essentially being created virtually, it pulls the look off well, and it feels fitting for a film that’s inspired by a fantasy game.
All in all, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a fun watch. While the film will certainly be an extra delight to those familiar with the game (closes Google tab where I had to search, “what is a paladin”), the humor and action of the film will keep the attention of both players and newbies alike.
Should be Considered: Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects
Where to Watch: In Theaters
Lives in NC, where she is on a first name basis with the owners of her favorite pho spot.
Favorite Actress: Angela Bassett
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