DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES review by Mark Walters – Chris Pine leads a fun adaptation

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES review by Mark Walters – Chris Pine leads a fun adaptation

So it’s out there, I was never into Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, or even as an adult, despite many of my friends growing up being very passionate players of the popular role-playing game. I tried, twice actually, but I just couldn’t grasp it no matter how much my buddies tried to help… I was an artist, and I think I was the sort who would rather draw characters like that than play a game as one. But the game clearly had its fans, coming about in the 1970s and enduring for decades to come. It even spawned a movie in 2000 that was… well, dreadful. But now we’re getting a new big screen adaptation in the form of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES. This new take is co-directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (the team behind the cult favorite show FREAKS AND GEEKS), from a screenplay by Daley, and stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Regé-Jean Page, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, and Hugh Grant. Advance screenings has met with very favorable responses, so I was anxious to see how this would be, even as someone who wasn’t all that into the source material.

We are introduced to Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), two prisoners being held for unknown crimes who are about to come up for a parole hearing, during which Edgin tells his sad origin of being a family man working for the kingdom, but crossing the wrong Red Wizard… it’s established that Red Wizards are magic-wielding sorcerers who can’t be trusted, and will use their power to hurt anyone who crosses them. When Edgin steals from one, other come to his home and poison his wife right after she had given birth to their daughter, who he found hidden from the Wizards as his wife dies in his arms. Edgin raises his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) with the help of his barbarian friend Holga, all while going on adventures with friends, until one day they have a chance to steal a mythical stone with the ability to bring anyone back from death… can you see where this is going? Sadly the job goes bad, and lands Edgin and Holga in prison, and Kira must now be raised by their friend Forge (Hugh Grant), a fellow thief who took the stone. Years later, Edgin and Holga break out and go looking for Kira. They find her living in a kingdom now commanded unexpectedly by Forge, with the assistance of one of their former allies, a Red Wizard named Sofina (Daisy Head). It seems that Forge has given Kira a good life, one filled with luxury and wealth, but Edgin wants her back, even if she doesn’t seem eager to leave. Forge sends them away, telling Kira her father hasn’t changed his ways, and she’s better off without him. This leads Edgin to form a plan to steal the stone from Forge, and get his daughter back, but now he needs a team. Calling on old friend and cowardly amateur wizard Simon (Justice Smith) and a shape-shifter named Doric (Sophia Lillis), this unlikely team must take on incredible odds to hopefully reunite what’s left of a broken family.

Remember when movies were fun? Not overly heavy-handed or pompous, just a fun time the whole family could enjoy? DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES is just that, tremendously fun and entertaining. It’s a fantasy film that never takes itself too seriously, but still manages to have a lot of heart and charm. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein have crafted a highly enjoyable adventure romp that is heavy on the comedy and action, and really knows how to establish great character moments and make full use of the fantasy elements. Chris Pine is ridiculously charming and hilarious in the lead, commanding the screen and quickly becoming what is sure to be a fan-favorite character. Michelle Rodriguez is a total badass as the strong and brave Holga, who also has a surprisingly soft side at times. Justice Smith is great as the underdog wizard with confidence issues, and Sophia Lillis turns in a very cool performance as the most imaginative character of the group. Hugh Grant appears to be having a blast playing the morally corrupt Forge, a man who is clearly oozing charisma, all while hiding nefarious motives. I also really liked Chloe Coleman as troubled Kira, and Daisy Head as the wicked Sofina, great casting all around. The only character the left me wanting was a Robin Hood-like swordsman named Xenk, played by Regé-Jean Page, who is used a bit sparingly here. Just when that character starts to get interesting, he leaves our team to fight alone. I think it would have been better if he had stuck with them until the end.

While you could call large portions of the movie violent, it’s always cartoon-ish violence, usually with the audience laughing as it unfolds. This movie knows to keep things light and amusing, and it makes the two hour and 14-minute run time fly by. There are elements of Monty Python on display here, throwbacks to fantasy adventure films of the 1980s and 90s, and even a touch of Steven Spielberg hopefulness. And surprisingly, the film knows how to throw in some surprisingly emotional moments when you least expect it. One scene in particular had many in our audience crying, which was unexpected, but a bold and effective move. One of my favorite aspects of the production was the impressive musical score by Lorne Balfe, drawing on classic instruments and choral and spoken elements to give it an otherworldly sound, really complimenting the fantasy elements of the movie. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES is one of the most endearing and satisfying films I’ve seen in a long time, it honestly made me feel like a kid again. I love these characters, and I can’t wait to revisit them, as hopefully this film will do well enough to spawn sequels and reunite this terrific team. Do not wait for streaming, see this on a big screen with a big audience and just take it all in. It’s time to have fun at the movies again.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES hits theaters March 31, 2023

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.