“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” Rating: 3.5/5
As someone who’s never played “Dungeons & Dragons” I had low expectations going in. The trailers didn’t sell me. I don’t naturally gravitate towards films of this nature, so I was somewhat hesitant. I’m happy to say “Honor Among Thieves” was a pleasant surprise!
The story centers around Edgin, a good man turned thief after a series of unfortunate circumstances. When he hears of a relic that brings the dead back to life, he embarks on a journey to bring his wife back. He must round up a group of misfits and adventurers in order to retrieve the relic and survive the obstacles they face along the way.
Every so often, a movie will sneak up and subvert my expectations. “D&D” did this in a very positive way. From the first scene to the end credits, I was invested in the story.
A group of charismatic cast members made this possible. Chris Pine proves again why he’s one of Hollywood’s most underrated leading men. He gives it his all in every sequence, making it easier to get on board with his journey. The supporting cast was also impressive. Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, and Hugh Grant all turn in good performances, rounding out a fun group to follow throughout the story.
An unexpected surprise was the use of practical effects. There were a number of sequences that featured real cast members with makeup and effects utilized to the fullest extent. Each scene felt more real and immersive with the clever costumes and set pieces. It’s nice to know that Hollywood hasn’t given up on old school special effects yet. On the other hand, the CGI was solid too.
The film embraces a goofy, B-movie tone that dives into the visionary realm with poise. Fantasy films aren’t an easy genre for me to feel invested in, but I appreciate that the story tried to modernize the characters while capturing the classic setting. What holds me back is the Shakespearean dialogue in period pieces, but viewers concerned with this niche style of storytelling will welcome the fresh approach.
The most impressive (and unexpected) compliment I can give the film is the character driven moments. Chris Pine delivers a number of somber, emotion filled monologues describing his life and journey. Each character is exposed to struggles and areas that make them relatable. This made the group dynamic even stronger as they pick each other up throughout the journey. I was so happy to see this present throughout the film.
“Honor Among Thieves” is a nice breath of fresh air amongst genre films, but I’d be negligent to ignore its shortcomings. Going into the film, I was weary of the humor presented in the trailer. Unfortunately, the comedy throughout the film was rather weak. It’s the same quippy, modern humor that fails to find a balance throughout the rest of the story. Sometimes it undercut a sequence that called for seriousness rather than a joke.
Another strange aspect was some of the scene transitions. I counted a number of cuts and shifts between scenes that were chopped quickly or felt incomplete. I hope the filmmakers take this into account with the inevitable franchise this film will spawn. There were a lot of cool scenes that just felt oddly jarring.
As I mentioned in the positives section, the film largely avoids the wonky Shakespearean dialogue. But Rege-Jean Page’s character is the exception. While his brief showing was fun, I felt that his character dynamic butted heads with the rest of the cast. His integration into the plot wasn’t altogether necessary.
“D&D: Honor Among Thieves” might be one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel or break any new ground, it entertains with an exciting time at the movies.
Whether you’re a fan of the game or not, most audiences will find the entertainment value worth the price of admission. I’d be shocked if we don’t see future “D&D” movies in the near future.
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