Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves review: charming fantasy romp casts a spell

Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez as lovable rogues

Paramount is banking on a new franchise with Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, and may well get lucky. Imaginative and entertaining, this all-ages wannabe epic rolls a 20.

An adaptation of the cult board game, the movie stars Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez as lovable rogues who find themselves questing after an ancient artefact. Imagine House of the Dragon via Shrek.

Co-writers and directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (screenwriters of Spider-Man Homecoming), along with Michael Gilio, ensure a frenetic pace. Some jokes score, others fizzle like failed spells, but there’s no shortage of quips, or cute visual gags that play on game tropes.  

Justice Smith plays Simon, Sophia Lillis plays Doric, Chris Pine plays Edgin and Michelle Rodriguez plays Holga in Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves (Paramount Pictures.)

Much of the joy of D&D: Honour Among Thieves comes from the ensemble cast, and in particular the chemistry between cocky Chris Pine and a scowling Michelle Rodriguez. 

Pine plays chief thief Edgin Darvis, Rodriguez is Holga Kilgore, his barbarian buddy. Betrayed by former band member Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), the pair need to assemble a crew to retrieve a relic that will bring his wife back from the dead, after she’s killed by an evil Red Wizard.

They recruit Simon (Justice Smith), a mage suffering a crisis of confidence, the dashing Xenk (Regé-Jean Page) and shape shifter Doric (Sophia Lillis), who can transform into an Owlbear (basically a feathered Hulk).

Some jokes score, others fizz like failed spells, but there’s no shortage of quips…

Honour Among Thieves is the latest in a long line of D&D spin-offs, including video games, books, and an animated TV show from the Eighties that followed a group of teenagers transported to the same role-playing world.  It’s unquestionably the most crowd-pleasing.

You don’t have to be a D&D aficionado to enjoy this sword & sorcery romp, but it helps. The movie has its fair share of Easter Eggs and cameos. It’s not a reboot of its popular animated predecessor, although that cast of characters (Hank the Ranger, Presto the Magician, Eric the Cavalier, Bobby the Barbarian and Diana the Acrobat) do make an appearance.

It’s just as likely to appeal to fans of comparable genre favourites like The Witcher and Games of Thrones. Yes, there be dragons here, but this one is rather portly. Thankfully, the source material isn’t treated with any great reverence.

Holga, Simon and Edgin face off against a rock monster in Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

Created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, Dungeons & Dragons began life as a role-playing game able to transport players to a world of fantasy and fable; players create their own characters and embark on outlandish adventures. A roll of the dice determines the outcome of their character’s actions, whether it’s battling mythical monsters or solving puzzles.

I remember buying a D&D board game back in the day and being completely baffled by the gameplay. It didn’t help that no one wanted to play with me.

Sophia Lillis plays Doric the shape-shifter

The visual effects are generally terrific throughout. Spells and creatures are brought to life with skilful pizzazz (the talking dead are a hoot), and the action scenes are well choreographed. The cinematography, by Barry (Game Night) Peterson, is noteworthy for real world location shooting in Northern Ireland and Iceland; the scenery looks lush.

For those who have become bored by rote superhero movies, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves provides a fresh fantasy fix. I’d certainly vote to go on another campaign with this charming troupe. 

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves is directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley and stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page and Justice Smith Rated 12A, 134 minutes.

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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