Director: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
Cast: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, Hugh Grant
Runtime: 2 hrs 14 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 30 March 2023
Synopsis: A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure.
This writer does not play Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), so he must have missed out countless cool references to the fantasy tabletop role playing game the movie is based on. But he did have a good time sitting through the movie, and credit goes to the directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, as well as the very charming ensemble cast led by Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez. And one can only imagine how much more D&D players would enjoy this action adventure movie.
The premise is simple: a motley crew gathers to retrieve a valuable item from a filthy rich bad guy. Fans of the game would identify the playable characters the roles are based on. Pine's Edgin Darvis is a bard who use artistic talents to induce magic, Rodriguez's Holga Kilgore is a barbarian who is capable of causing maximum damage in combat, Justice Smith's Simon Aumar is a sorcerer who is weak in combat but an expert in magic, Sophia Lillis' Doric is a druid who uses nature to her advantage, while Read-Jean Page's Xenk Yendar is a paladin who crusades and fights injustice as a holy knight. The antagonists come in the form of Hugh Grant's Forge Fitzwilliam, a rogue who is sneaky and suspicious, and Daisy Head's Red Wizard who uses necromancy to do bad things.
Given the premise, the movie could have been a dreary affair with two hours of serious dialogues and competent but uninspiring CGI sequences. Dragons? You'd definitely get a few scenes where they spew fire in the sky, but in this age, such visuals are unlikely to make you sit up and watch. Monsters? Audiences nowadays have been spoilt by so many strange creatures, it will take a lot of effort for a fantastical beast to wow us. Fans of the game would be interested to see how some of the monsters from the game come alive on the big screen though.
So kudos to the filmmakers for deciding to take a different approach to making this movie, and making us laugh at its hilarious setups and amusing one liners. The chemistry between the characters feels larger than life on screen, and seeing Edgin trying to impress the gang with his planning skills, Simon trying to impress Doric with his confidence, Xenk keeping a serious straight face despite the situation, and Forge making snide remarks (Grant’s dry British humour is on full display here) keeps the energy going throughout the movie.
The movie knows better than to take itself too seriously (there was a film trilogy consisting of a box office flop, a made for TV movie and a direct to DVD release between 2000 and 2012), and it seems like everyone is here for a good time. Watch out for a sequence where the heroes dig up corpses and question the dead in a creepy graveyard – whoever thought of treating this sequence like a comedy skit is a genius.
While the storyline takes some detours here and there (probably to fill the 134 minute runtime), you won’t complain because it is fun hanging out with the charming thieves who are embarking on quest after quest to reach their ultimate goal. And we can all be sure that this is the start of a new franchise.
(It doesn't matter whether you're familiar with the popular tabletop role-playing game, this fantasy adventure is fun, hilarious and truly charming)
Review by John Li