Dungeons and Dragons Honor Among Thieves Rated PG-13 for language, action/fantasy violence Production/Distribution: Paramount Pictures Running Time: 134 Minutes Budget: $150M Director: Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley Starring: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Rege-Jean Page, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant
A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.
I have to be honest, and I am not saying this because I am a fan of the game and the genre, but there is a lot to like in this latest iteration of the beloved property. This reviewer is still licking the wounds of catastrophically terrible live action film from 2000, starring Jeremy Irons. D&D fans needed a win, and they got one here. A strong cast was a crucial piece of the puzzle, but the high production set pieces, special effects, and superbly choreographed action were complimented by a solid script. Basically a dream come true for fans of the genre.
Chris Pine plays Edgin, the de facto leader of the group. Running joke here is that he is a human bard with no discernable skill appropriate for such a dangerous and complex heist. His right hand, Holga, played by Michelle Rodriguez is an incredibly gifted Barbarian Fighter who more than makes up for Edgin’s lack of martial abilities. Simon is a half-Elf Sorceror who betrays a lack of mastery of his craft played by Justice Smith. Sophia Lillis’ Doric, a Tiefling Druid provides some of the coolest character moments in the movie with her shapeshifting nature. And while less present, Rege-Jean Page’s Paladin, Xenk, is every bit the warrior that Holga is and leaves an impact on the screen that is palpable. A stream of adversaries ranging from former allies (see Hugh Grant’s Forge), dark art magic wielders (Daisy Head’s Sofina of the Red Wizards of Thay), the fattest dragon ever to appear on screen, and so many other classic Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual beasts, will have fans feeling quite satisfied and jonesing for their next session at the tables.
The action truly feels like a role play honoring its source material and the character backstories are fleshed out enough for the audience to make a true connection with the sub-plots and emotions playing out before you. It is a fun movie, but there is some real touching stuff going on (particularly in the relationship between Edgin and his estranged daughter, whose mother tragically died due to her father’s greed). Laughter is in the offering as well. The movie has heart.
I don’t have much bad to say about this film. A big classic character race is not represented in the group. Although dwarves are seen in the movie, I feel like the writers did not want to have a group that even remotely resembled the Fellowship of the Ring, perhaps explaining the absence. Absent too, unless I missed them were orcs, goblins, and kobolds….all staples and common enemy types in D&D lore. As well, a trip to the Underdark sans the appearance of a single drow seemed unexpected. But in the end, my complaints are minor trivialities concerning unimportant absences when the world that the filmmakers are trying to present is truly wide and vast, and no one movie could capture that world effectively. With any luck, this movie will prove successful enough financially to warrant a franchise. Word is that there is a Dragonlance movie being developed. But I, for one, would love to see these characters see another story arc.
The Bottom Line
If you are a fan of the game, you are going to find here a movie that feels like a big screen presentation of your own game play experience, which is about as much as you can ask for! If you are not familiar with the concept of a role-playing game, but you just dig some fantasy action, you are going to be well served and I challenge you to find another entrant into the genre as entertaining as this movie. Disney + recent attempt at bringing back Willow was poorly executed and even Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, though good, cannot match the charm on display in this movie, and let’s not talk about the abomination that was The Wheel of Time. Really folks….this movie has it all for you, and you should rush out to see it if you have not done so already!