Ah, the fond memories of the tabletop game come back to life. Remiscening in old memories means that sometimes a group of us were stuck in purgatory at one location for nearly five hours and then had to call it a day because midnight had fallen. What a time; good thing that a witty, entertaining entry came along based on the source material moved faster than one could roll the dice.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is written and directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Game Night), and both pull inspiration from a Pirates of the Caribbean guide: introduce a fun adventure in a (relatively) generic tale that’s propelled with great humor and action, with added doses of the D&D game at its core for all the fantasy elements involved. Hardcore fans will satiate their needs with Easter eggs, totems, characters, and the environments set in the Forgotten Realms. Another bonus is the feature ignores all the elements of Jeremy Iron’s ill-fated attempt back in 2000 (and that franchise altogether).
The plot kicks off with an exposition from Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) being arrested alongside his barbarian best friend, Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez). The former explains that he was a good samaritan for his family until he turned to a life of crime to provide for his family. He, unfortunately, lost his wife at the hands of a Red Wizard and worked with Holga to raise his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman). After a botched heist to retrieve a resurrection tablet, Edgin and Holga get imprisoned but escape to return to their friend-turned-foe Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), who not only stands as Kira’s guardian but rises as a city’s lord with the help of a red wizard called Sofina (Daisy Head). Holga and Edgin must band a group with wizard Simon Aumar (Justice Smith) and druid Doric (Sophia Lillis) to take back Forge’s treasury and save Kira.
There are so many vibes here from other films, namely Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and The Princess Bride, but it’s pretty rambunctiously innovative with flair and joy that it subconsciously knows what it’s in for. Maybe we will get that next television series or spawning of sequels that might have Paramount batting its eyelashes against Disney’s Marvel Universe or Warner Brother’s DC (revived) universe. The game might be almost fifty years old, but that won’t stop the IP from evolving.
Pine and Rodriguez have excellent platonic chemistry, especially when the fighting dawns, and it’s Rodriguez trying to crack all the heads (a preview of how she’ll fight Charlize Theron in the upcoming Fast X). Smith and Lillis bring the fun vibes and Rege-Jean Page briefly gets to shine as a paladin that survived a red wizard’s plague. A fast pace and some neat visual effects keep the motion picture zany and humming, even if sometimes the setup feels very “been there, done that” already.
Much like Star Wars, there is potential to branch out into more fun (or serious) tales; it’s a movie itself that relishes in nostalgia and for audiences to role-play alongside it. Honor Among Thieves is a jaunty win.