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Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: A Silly, Sometimes Funny, Fantasy Flick

Justice Smith plays Simon, Chris Pine plays Edgin, Sophia Lillis plays Doric and Michelle Rodriguez plays Holga in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves from Paramount Pictures.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves preview screening provided by Paramount Pictures

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a jovial time at the cinema that will be chewed up by D&D fans while leaving enough entertainment to keep even the most passive viewers satisfied”

Fantasy and comedy go together about as well as sugar and salt; they’re two genres of film that are as polar-opposity as you can get. But that doesn’t stop directing duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Game Night, Vacation) from embracing both aspects in their latest film Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (If you’re an early 2000s gamer like me and had the title remind you of Sucker Punch’s classic platformer, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, you’d be forgiven).

While this film is based on the tabletop game of the same name, Daley and Goldstein have tried to make it as accessible as possible for those of us that have never crossed paths with druids, bards and all of the worlds other weird wonders. The key word is they’ve “tried”, as what starts out (and persists in scattered parts) as a rather exposition-laden opening to catch you up, quickly descends into a ragtag game of, well, dungeons and dragons and everything in-between.

The ‘in-between’ consists of the sharp talking thief, Edgin (Chris Pine) and his beefed up buddy Holga (a muscly Michelle Rodriguez), who have found themselves incarcerated in an Isengard-esque tower after a failed plot to steal an artifact that can bring a dead person back to life. Through some spewy exposition, we learn that the person in question is Edgin’s wife. We also learn that he has a daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman), who he has entrusted his thief friend, Forge Fitzwilliam (a charmingly deceitful Hugh Grant), to take care of in his absence.

After hatching a spontaneous plan of escape after all the backstory has been told —in what is the first of the film’s many SNL feeling sketch scenes— the duo find themselves free. From here the world opens up in ways that most role-playing games tend to, with endless possibilities and directions to go. But for the duo, they set their sights on the kingdom of Neverwinter where Forge is now its new lord. It turns out he’s not the nicest of fellas, and he’s also fuelled Kira’s growing distrust of her father who she believes acted out of selfishness rather than selflessness.

Hugh Grant plays Forge in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves from Paramount Pictures and eOne.

Hugh Grant plays Forge in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves from Paramount Pictures and eOne.

This is a theme that Daley and Goldstein nurture throughout the film, using the ensuing events to show Edgin learning to think beyond his own desires. It’s nothing ground-breaking by any means, and the whole ‘out-of-touch father’ angle has been done to death, but it manages to stick.

And that’s owed to the charming cast at the film’s core, especially Pine. The actor brings a resoluteness and charisma to the role in much the same way as his Captain James T. Kirk performance in the Star Trek films. His banter with Rodriguez is a particular highlight, allowing the film to revel in its popcorn silliness to full effect. There are also other misfits along for the ride including Sophia Lillis as the shapeshifter Doric, Justice Smith as a mage of sorts in Simon Aumar, and Regé-Jean Page as the posh knight Xenk Yendar. Grant’s performance is a standout though as the greedy, too-big-for-his-own-boots lord, as he plays him with a quirkiness that echoes a character like Prince John in Robin Hood (1973).

There’s a delight in seeing these characters band together for a quest to search for a long lost helmet that’ll allow them to break an enchantment and steal Forge’s reviving relic. As a group, they do everything from resurrect corpses in a quick Q&A, Monty Python-type scene where the dead re-die after five questions; they get chased by a rather stocky dragon in a dungeon (which is only fitting); and they sneak their way past guards with various magical gimmicks.

The actual story becomes a bit of a mess, especially when the lore gets in the way, but overall the fun factor is never lost. There are lots of MacGuffins that unsurprisingly work mainly because the film is more interested in keeping the dice rolling; in this way, these plot devices serve their purpose as little distractions that ultimately don’t do much to everything that follows. The pacing is also a bit adrift which is saying something given there is over two hours of fantasy action to be had. At the end though, Honor Among Thieves is a jovial time at the cinema that will be chewed up by D&D fans while leaving enough entertainment to keep even the most passive viewers satisfied.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens nationally from the 30th of March, 2023.


Arnel Duracak

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