Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: M – Violence, offensive language & horror
Chris Pine as Edgin Darvis
Michelle Rodriguez as Holga Kilgore
Regé-Jean Page as Xenk Yendar
Justice Smith as Simon Aumar
Sophia Lillis as Doric
Hugh Grant as Forge Fitzwilliam
Chloe Coleman as Kira Darvis
Daisy Head as Sofina
Director: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a long lost relic, but their charming adventure goes dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.
I’m not familiar with Dungeons & Dragons, I never played it, but I definitely heard about it. The last attempt at making a movie based on the popular tabletop roleplaying game was back in 2000, and from what I heard it was to less than stellar results. 23 years later however, they are giving it another go. Despite a cast led by Chris Pine and being helmed by the writers and directors of the underrated Game Night, I had my reservations going into Honor Among Thieves. The trailers weren’t the best and made it look like a generic fantasy action comedy with typical MCU style quips. However, it turned out to be one of the more surprising movies from this year.
As someone who hasn’t played Dungeons & Dragons, I can’t speak with high creditability as to how accurately it captures the game, but from my limited knowledge, the movie did feel like a D&D game. The plot really isn’t anything special, so it is just as well that the writing is as great as it was. The story is cliché and predictable but is nonetheless well handled. It plays like an old fashioned fantasy adventure and strikes the perfect tone. It is fully aware of the genre it is in and doesn’t take itself so seriously, and its quite charming. There’s a lot of good and clever humour, and most of the jokes land. High fantasy action comedies are hard to pull off, but Honor Among Thieves does a wonderful job at it. For those who have seen Game Night, it is more in line with that movie than you would initially think, especially with the comedy. Despite all that, there are some surprising emotional story beats and character development that play at the right level, it’s not too serious and retains the self-awareness, but is genuine and earnest enough for you to care about the characters and what’s going on. With this being a fantasy movie, there’s a lot of worldbuilding and plenty of backstories given to characters, items and fantasy races, which is probably why the end film is 2 hours and 14 minutes long. The movie entertained me from beginning to end, but perhaps they could’ve cut down a little on the exposition.
So much of the movie is helped by the great and likable cast of characters, who have really good chemistry together and help to sell the comedy. You can tell that everyone was having a lot of fun making it. The central band of characters in Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith and Sophia Lillis are great and fun to watch. Regé-Jean Page is a standout and steals the scenes he’s in, I’d watch a whole spin off movie focussing on his character. The villains really are pretty generic, but that’s fine for this story. Still, it helps that one of the villains played by Hugh Grant is very entertaining and funny in his scenes, even if he’s not in the movie as much as you’d like.
John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein directed this well. The visuals are good with some very nice scenery and good sets. There was a surprising number of practical effects, including animatronics. Occasionally the CGI can look really off, but that is easy to look past, and it looks really good for the most part. The action is also strong, whether it be smaller scale fights between Michelle Rodriguez and multiple people at the same time, or much larger set pieces involving dragons. There’s a lot of creativity in these scenes, especially when it comes to the camera movements. Lorne Balfe’s score is also great and fits the movie and its tone really well.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a surprisingly fun, cleverly written and entertaining fantasy action comedy, with great and likeable performances and characters. I wouldn’t mind if we got more of these movies, whether it continues the story of these characters or focus on a different set of characters in the universe. Even if you were turned off by the trailers, I think Honor Among Thieves is well worth checking out, especially in a cinema with a crowd.