Based on the legendary role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is nothing like what I anticipated and much better than I expected. This irresistible fantasy adventure has a healthy dose of good humor, playful charm, and is easily accessible to all who love imaginary worlds filled with wizards, sorcerers, warlocks, knights, and fire-breathing dragons.
Charismatic thief Edgin (Chris Pine) and his band of unlikely adventurers (including Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) the barbarian) undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic and to liberate his daughter (Chloe Coleman) from Forge’s (Hugh Grant) castle. Things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people, but the group must work together to overcome seemingly never-ending obstacles as they continue their important quest.
While directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein stay true to the origins of the game, prior knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons isn’t necessary. The film explains everything you need to know, making this an action adventure that’s appropriate for everyone. It’s surprising just how accessible this movie is. You don’t have to know the rules of the game to get a real kick out of this one. I’m sure there are plenty of Easter eggs hidden around for the gamers, but it’s not so insider that the uninitiated can’t understand what’s going on. This is definitely one of the film’s greatest strengths.
The story (with a script by Goldstein, Daley, and Michael Gilio) is solid too, with well-developed characters and irreverent humor that keeps the movie from becoming just another based-on-a-game throwaway. There’s a ton of heart and genuine emotion, which is elevated by the terrific cast. The actors play off each other well, giving a human element to what thankfully is not just a bunch of dumb CGI. You can feel the real connection between Edgin and Holga, best friends who always have each other’s backs, and Rodriguez and Pine’s chemistry finds the perfect groove. Grant, who is having a career resurgence lately, is as delightful as ever as the rogue Forge Fitzwilliam, as is Justice Smith as amateur sorcerer Simon and Sophia Lillis as shape shifting tiefling druid Doric. Most shocking is that Pine isn’t doing yet another version of his annoying shtick here, which in itself is a massive achievement.
The pacing is brisk and the special effects are well done, even if the finale is stretched a little thin. I found it easy to become engrossed in the mythical world of D&D not only because the movie looks great visually, but the characters are appealing, too. There’s plenty to root for.
Even if you think you aren’t a fan of the fantasy genre, I suggest you give “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” a try. This playful, character-driven adventure offers a ton of magical fun at the movies.