Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves proves that a movie depicting tabletop roleplaying games doesn’t have to be a lore-bloated, confusing disaster. With practical effects and a script that keeps the humor in check, it isn’t afraid to play to its audience. Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez shine as professional bard Edgin Darvis and axe-wielder Holga Kilgore, respectively. Hugh Grant should play villains more often, while Justice Smith and Rege-Jean Page round out the merry band of thieves.
One of the most enjoyable and easy to digest fantasy movies in years, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a gleeful ride that delivers on every level. Dark dungeons, creepy crawly creatures, magnificent castles, evil wizards, friends banding together, family members fighting for each other, betrayal and perfectly laid-out plans going awry – it’s all in there and more.
The movie is bursting with Easter eggs for the diehards but it’s never so busy trying to appease its audience that you lose sight of the main story and characters. Pine is a roguish charmer, Michelle Rodriguez hits all the right notes as Holga (her performance is arguably the best thing she’s ever done on screen), Justice Smith delivers a solid comic turn and Bridgerton breakout Rege-Jean Page rounds out the merry band of thieves.
Unlike many modern fantasy movies, the cast isn’t asked to balance serious and comedic moments. This approach allows each character to have their own arc and helps to keep the film from dipping into darker territory than it needs to go.
The film doesn’t really break any new ground in narrative terms but it juggles a fair amount of spectacle and characters with a healthy serving of humor. It’s a smart-alecky version of Lord of the Rings and it works well enough.
The movie stars Chris Pine as hapless bard Edgin Darvis, who is trying to enlist the help of his stoic barbarian partner Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) to rescue their daughter from an imprisoned villain known as Forge Fitzwilliam. It’s an impressive cast, led by the surprisingly charismatic Hugh Grant in an entirely different kind of role than what we’re used to seeing from him.
Rege-Jean Page, Justice Smith and Sophia Lillis round out the merry band of thieves and it’s a strong cast that makes the most of their script. It’s filled with all the usual tropes of D&D: dark dungeons, creepy crawly creatures, magnificent castles, perfectly laid-out plans that go awry and lots of swordplay and magic.
While the film doesn’t offer as many visual thrills as a film like The Lord of the Rings, there are some standout moments. One is how the film portrays magic. Instead of wizards waving wands and shooting CGI rays, they use physical ingredients, gestures, words, and concentration to cast spells.
The film also boasts incredible VFX, thanks to the team at Industrial Light & Magic. Ben Snow, production VFX supervisor, and Todd Vaziri, compositing supervisor, made the movie’s world feel tangible. Their work is highlighted by the half-owl, half-bear creature that appears in a key action sequence.
Dungeons & Dragons is available on spacemov for everyone. The humor and silliness that a good game of D&D is known for carry over, but the movie also offers plenty of epic battles and extreme violence. Families should discuss the violence in this film, whether it’s realistic or stylized. Also, they may want to talk about whether they consider some of the characters role models and why.
With its ragtag collection of lovable misfits, face-crunching axe fight choreography, and running joke about potatoes, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is that vanishingly rare creature: an entertainment from the nerd world that actually exceeds expectations. Writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein avoid overdoing it with Easter eggs or ad-libbed references, letting their affection for D&D shine through in the way they deploy these references, as loving winks rather than self-parody.
The cast is aces, with Pine and Rodriguez providing the easy charms required of Edgin and Holga; Justice Smith as Simon, an insecure sorcerer; Sophia Lillis as Doric, a shape-shifting druid rebel; and Rege-Jean Page as Xenk Yendar, a compassionate immortal paladin. Hugh Grant proves that he’s still got it, adding smug humor to his role as the ultimate smooth criminal.
Dungeons & Dragons might be set in a fantasy world, but it remembers that to make you care, it has to connect back to something real. This is why Honor Among Thieves works so well.