You don’t need a 20-sided die to see the clear wit and passion behind “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” From directing duo John Francis Daley and Jonthan Goldstein, “Honor Among Thieves” is a fantasy-fueled thrill ride set in the world of the magically medieval “Dungeons & Dragons.” Based on the 1974 tabletop role playing …
‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ is an Honorable Tabletop Adaptation
You don’t need a 20-sided die to see the clear wit and passion behind “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.”
From directing duo John Francis Daley and Jonthan Goldstein, “Honor Among Thieves” is a fantasy-fueled thrill ride set in the world of the magically medieval “Dungeons & Dragons.” Based on the 1974 tabletop role playing game, “Honor Among Thieves” inhabits a setting where barbarians, dragons, the undead, wizards and many more all live in a shared world.
After a failed 2000 film simply titled “Dungeons & Dragons” and its direct-to-video sequels, “Honor Among Thieves” does justice to the decades-old game by embracing its theatrical backdrop with a lively cast of characters and a warmly amusing story to match.
Led by musical bard Edgin Darvis, a party of rogues journey to save Edgin’s daughter from the captivity of aristocrat Forge Fitzwilliam. Along the way, the band encounters shapeshifters, zombified barbarians, undead assassins and inflated dragons all while preparing for a high-stakes robbery and rescue.
Chris Pine as Edgin effortlessly charms as the party’s leader, despite the character’s inner turmoil. Pine (“Star Trek,” “Hell or High Water”) portrays a broken bard, beaten down by the death of his wife. After spending two years imprisoned, Edgin fights to reclaim both his daughter and his honor.
Pine’s performance carries the heart of the film, giving it unexpected sincerity. “Honor Among Thieves” doesn’t cut from the action to show a group playing the game as it unfolds. Everything that happens is real within the story.
Michelle Rodriguez as Edgin’s right-hand partner Holga Kilgore similarly surprises in the nuance of her performance. Rodriguez (“The Fast and the Furious,” “Avatar”) plays a stoically brutal barbarian with a heart of gold. Being a close family friend to Edgin and his daughter, Holga passionately fights for her found family while still providing comedic relief with her bluntness.
While not a main member of the party, even the temporary inclusion of Regé-Jean Page leaves a charming impression on the viewer. Playing Xenk, a paladin knight and apostate to the necromancing red wizards, Page (“Bridgerton,” “The Gray Man”) defines suave in both battle and speech. Xenk’s unique affability and innocence paired with his deadly swiftness in battle shapes the second act’s climax.
Of all the earnest performances, Hugh Grant contrasts the group as villain Lord Forge.
Known for his likeability and lovingness in romcoms, Grant (“Notting Hill,” “Love Actually”) fails to translate his charisma into a dimensioned antagonist. Egotistical and tiresome, Forge is an easy villain to root against but not a pleasant one to watch on screen.
Forge’s magical assistant and secret benefactor Sofina is a much more engaging presence on film despite her own insufficiencies in character depth. Played by Daisy Head, the red priestess Sofina taps into a conniving villainy that’s engrossing to watch unfold.
With the goal of using Forge to turn his subjects into an army of the dead, Head (“Shadow and Bone,” “Wrong Turn”) plays a captivating red witch that easily outshines Grant’s performance.
“Honor Among Thieves” isn’t just an entertaining band of players, the direction from Daley and Goldstein (“Game Night,” “Vacation”) matches the zany setting amazingly. While not every use of CGI meshes perfectly, the tremendous use of practical effects and set design lend to a world that feels lived-in despite the fantasy setting.
The humor Daley and Goldstein bring to “Honor Among Thieves” compliments the colorful backdrop of characters. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously but spares viewers from unclever jokes, too.
The end result is a film that feels eerily similar to its source material. With banter so irreverent and playful, it feels akin to the real life back-and forth spoken between friends playing D&D at home.
“Honor Among Thieves” has great fantasy action, well paced humor and a lot of heart. Even after two hours, the delightful effects of its enchantment don’t wear off.
“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is in theaters now.
Featured image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.