Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Review
Credit: Paramount Pictures/Hasbro
In the entertaining fantasy adventure Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, we join a motley crew of intrepid travellers as they go on a hilarious and action-packed mission that truly captures the essence of the game.
Before delving into the movie, it’s important to note that fans who are not familiar with D&D’s past shouldn’t avoid it. Longtime fans will undoubtedly enjoy the many references, but you won’t miss out if you don’t know your owlbears from your displacer creatures before you watch the movie.
Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Game Night) have made it clear that they are huge fans of the venerable tabletop role-playing game in the run-up to the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, and it shows.The storyline of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves effectively resembles a heist film, with the welcome ability to include a lot of the strange and wonderful magical world from the game.
The D&D movie transports us to the typical high fantasy world of the Forgotten Realms where we meet the ferocious warrior Holga Kilgore and the bard Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) (Michelle Rodriguez).They had previously committed a number of thefts alongside the foolish sorcerer Simon Aumar (Justice Smith) and the rascally rogue Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant). The group eventually broke up after an attempt to recover a relic that could bring Edgin’s wife back from the grave failed.
Upon their release from custody, Ed and Holga embark on a mission to reclaim the artefact. They put together a new group to do so, including Simon and the person he is in love with, a shape-shifting druid named Doric (Sophia Lillis). After that, Ed’s team uses their special abilities to try to recover the relic once more.Our extremely likeable cast is the highlight of the film.
The chemistry this found family shares on-screen really helps the film capture the same feeling as a session of Dungeons and Dragons, with each member of the core group showcasing their jokes, skills (and flaws!) throughout. Chris Pine’s endearing charisma acts as the bond that binds the group together while Simon frequently tests his magical prowess, Doric uses her shape-shifting magic to delicious effect, and Holga’s brute force is displayed in brutal fight scenes that don’t cheat the action with quick cuts.
The standouts, though, were the film’s secondary characters. Rege-Jean Page’s humourless Paladin, Xenk Yendar, clashes perfectly with the chaotic vibe that our core four puts out. Xenk is so stiff-necked that he only walks in a straight line and is incapable of understanding sarcasm, yet he enjoys a good speech. Meanwhile, Hugh Grant draws on the same energy he put on display so brilliantly in Paddington 2 as Forge Fitzwilliam, delivering another gleefully glib performance in the process.
Tonally, Honor Among Thieves is significantly lighter than your normal fantasy picture, so it’s comforting to know it impresses on the humor front. Nowadays, wisecracking comedy is so prevalent in high-budget films that it is incredibly welcome to see the jokes land so frequently. The team also takes time to make fun of the original game’s oddities, as seen in a scene where the party struggles with a spell’s restrictions when need to raise the dead in order to gather information. This scene had the crowd in fits of laughter.
Visually, the film’s a genuine treat. Using the wide variety of fantasy locations, spells, and monsters that are readily available, Daley and Goldstein have created them in vivid realism using a blend of real-world sets that are exquisitely detailed and digital effects.
Although the quality of those effects might vary at times, the imagination that went into making the scenes come to life on screen more than makes up for this minor criticism. The skillfully handled final confrontation with Sofina (a truly terrifying Daisy Head) in which everyone uses their special abilities against her outshines the standard act three brawl you might be used to in movies of the same caliber.
The story was the only drawback, if there was one. The crew needed to acquire a few too many MacGuffins in order to progress in their goal, and periodically the forward momentum was halted by abrupt exposition dumps. Although the action sequences scattered throughout more than make up for these energy dips, the occasionally clunky narrative does detract from Honor Among Thieves’ overall rollercoaster ride feel.
Despite a few minor issues, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves far surpassed my expectations and provided a genuinely enjoyable fantasy film that pays homage to the original material. Anybody interested in getting the blockbuster season of this year started early could put together their own group and try it.