DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES
l Paramount Pictures Canada | March 31, 2023
Starring: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, Hugh Grant
Directed By: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
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.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is an absolute blast from start to finish, mixing great fantasy world building, fun action scenes, great humour and heart, resulting in one of the most entertaining films of the year so far!
If you had told me that I would have as much fun with Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves based on the trailers, I would have called you crazy. The trailers were not bad by any standards, but it looked like your generic big screen fantasy adaptation of a popular game with nothing special about it. However, instantly the film proved me wrong and was not only a wildly entertaining film from start to finish, but one that had a full theatre laughing and cheering throughout, reminding me why there is no experience like watching a film on the big screen with a full audience.
Inspired by the popular role playing game, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves tells the story of Edgin, a charming thief, and his band of unlikely adventures. After escaping from prison, Edgin embarks on a quest to retrieve an ancient, magical relic to help him pull off a big heist and win back the trust of his daughter. But nothing goes according to plan, leading Edgin and his band of thieves on a magical adventure throughout the realm that ultimately leaves them as the final line of defence against an evil power trying to take over the world.
While the plot description makes this sound like your generic fantasy adventure film, which the roots of the story are, it is the characters and heart of the story that immediately win you over. Everyone has had a run of bad luck in their lives, and this film finds its main characters at that point in life and sets up a great redemption arc for them. You see what the characters are fighting for and their personal stakes in the heist, which propels the story. The heist sequences themselves are a lot of fun, perfectly mixing CGI driven fantasy action that looks excellent, with a wicked sense of humour that will have you laughing uncontrollably. And when you get to the final act and have the payoff for each character’s individual arc, you will be cheering in your seats as the action explodes across the screen and our thieves become the hero they were destined to be.
At the same time, the film does a great job at building the worlds, the different creatures and magical factions, crafting that all encompassing fantasy world that is reminiscent of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. While there is no sequel tease in this film, but potential plot elements to further explore, I would happily spend another film with these characters and to further expand the world because this is one of the best surprises of the year so far!
Being a fantasy film, the visuals of the film are incredibly important. The costume design is great, combined with makeup design and prosthetics that helps to bring to life all the wondrous creatures and elements of the world that the audience encounters on this adventure. The CGI plays an important role in bringing to life some of the creatures, mainly the dragons, the magical spells and the larger than life action sequences to reality on screen. While the film heavily relies on CGI at times, the end results look great and you truly believe you are experiencing this magical world rather than your brain telling you it is a computer generated image. In creating this world, the writers sprinkle in enough references and nods to the role playing games and previous adaptations to win over long time Dungeons & Dragons fans, while making it accessible to newcomers to this incredibly rich world.
But the film’s biggest asset is its outstanding cast. Chris Pine oozes with charisma in the lead role of Edgin, becoming the perfect lead character. He is charming, funny, and even shows off his excellent singing abilities and fully inhabits the bard he is portraying. But, there is an emotional vulnerability that Pine finds within Edgin, creating this man trying to fix his past mistakes and restore his family, which makes him a hero you can root for and feel for at every step of the film. Michelle Rodrgiuez plays Holga with a straightness to brilliant comedic effect, creating the perfect partner in crime for Pine’s Edgin. The two of them are a dynamic screen pairing that makes for many of the film’s best moments that raises the film to new heights, marking one of my favourite performances from Rodriguez. Sophia Lillis is a great addition as Doric, capturing a strength and wisdom far beyond her age, while Regé-Jean Page is a scene stealer as Xenk, becoming the film’s equivalent of Drax the Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy, only one with a magnetic appeal that will have audiences swooning. Hugh Grant is perfectly cast as the film’s nefarious, hamming up the film with his signature comedic timing while leaning into his character’s villainous tendencies to make his screen time invaluable. The only weak link is Justice Smith as Simon. Smith is not bad by any regards, but here merely gives the same performance that he has given in so many other films, never truly making this character his own or showcasing his true acting abilities that he displayed earlier this year in Sharper. But, Smith fits well into the ensemble cast and does his part in making this an incredibly fun film to watch.
There is no denying that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves will be one of the best surprise hits of the entire year, delivering a spellbinding fantasy adventure that will enchant audiences around the world from start to finish. With a story packed with excitement, adventure and a heart that immediately draws you in, it is the film’s cast led by the magnificent pairing of Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez that makes Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves a theatrical event you cannot miss on the big screen!