Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Wait, someone made a good Dungeons & Dragons movie? The long-delayed film various studios have been trying to make for a decade finally hits the big screen. It may only be spring, but Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is the type of summer popcorn flick you've been waiting for. Sure, those who know D&D are going to get more references than those just sitting down for a fun action-comedy, including a nice nod to the 80s cartoon, but, despite your level of familiarity with the role-playing game going in, you're in for a great time.

Honoring, but not getting lost in, the basic fabric of D&D, we're introduced to a band of unlucky thieves a couple years after their latest job went south landing the talkative bard Edgin (Chris Pine) and the grumpier barbarian Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) in prison. Pine, all-too-often cast in bland stoic roles that don't showcase his comic timing, is the perfect choice for the selfish rouge and regretful father in search of redemption while Rodriguez works well as a foil for him to play off of (while also saving him from danger).

Structured not unlike a Dungeon Master's campaign that allows the characters to bump around a bit before finding their own path, we're introduced to several other characters along the way including Justice Smith as a low-rent sorcerer with self-esteem issues, Sophia Lillis as the shape-shifting druid, Hugh Grant as the duplicitous con man Forge, Regé-Jean Page as a noble paladin, Daisy Head as the powerful Red Wizard, and Chloe Coleman as Edgin's disapproving (and a bit too naïve) daughter. We'll also get several classic D&D creatures whose appearances I won't spoil here, other than saying one of my favorites of the film can found in the maze.

There are many paths a Dungeons & Dragons movie could have taken, and while I think a more self-aware approach (such as in the rebooted Jumanji franchise) or something that cut out to the real-world players (like The Princess Bride) could have offered an interesting frame to view the group's campaign, the choice by writer/directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley to simply drop these characters into a fantasy adventure works just as well. 

Sure not everything works, some of the side questing could have been pared down, Egin's daughter is far too trusting to a man she knows is a professional liar, and, although most of the CGI is impressive, the occasion to showcase characters of different size interacting is more than a bit awkward. However, my complaints are minimal for what otherwise succeeds beyond my expectations. Godlstein and Daley have done what others couldn't do before them and made nearly every one of their saving throws to the delight of D&D fans everywhere. They may not have rolled a 20, but they've certainly got a solid hit on their hands.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
  • IMDb: link

No comments: