Video game adaptation is having a moment. Just this Spring alone, we’ve got no less than three movies based on or about video games, TETRIS, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and this one. Now, I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons even for a second and generally don’t go out of my way to seek out video game adaptations, so I was flabbergasted to learn Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is the sixth D&D movie, in fact, the first one released in 2000 starred Jeremy Irons [mind blown!]
Now, the development of this latest movie has been through a musical chair of sort, going from Warner Bros to Hasbro/Universal, and now lands with Paramount. Well, as a non-gamer, what sold me about this movie is the cast and they’re definitely the reason it’s so fun to watch.
Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez made for an amusing pair in this deliriously goofy medieval heist fantasy adventure. No, they’re not a romantic couple, even their characters Edgin and Holga scoff at that idea, but they sure are besties. When we meet them in the beginning of the movie, they’re both imprisoned in a dungeon and about to present their appeal for pardon in front of the judges. Edgin’s hilarious plea gives us Edgin’s backstory which involves a murdered wife and a young daughter, and why they end up in prison, which also leads to their escape.
Honestly, the plot is kind of superfluous in a movie like this, and I’m glad the writers adhere to Keep it simple, stupid (KISS) principle and not overcomplicate things. All we need to know is Edgin and Holga were betrayed by Forge (Hugh Grant), who stole a precious relic from them, so they’re on a quest to get it back. Along the way they track down former allies – Simon (Justice Smith) a magician with low self-esteem, who then recruits Doric (Sophia Lillis), a shapeshifter whom Simon has a crush on.
So the four of them go after Forge who’s appointed himself the guardian of Edgin’s daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman). For whatever reason, he’s now a rich lord in a city called Neverwinter with an oh-so-serious red wizard Sofina (Daisy Head) at his beck and call, who’s got something even more nefarious up her sleeve. Most of what’s going on doesn’t make a lot of sense, but hey, who needs logic in a D&D movie?? This is the kind of movie where you get to park your brain at the theater door, grab your popcorn and escape for two hours.
The real strength of this movie is truly the cast! Hollywood, please cast Pine and Grant in more comedies!! Bless the filmmakers for having Pine sing in this movie as well. I mean, this gorgeous hunk of a man has done a duet with Barbra Streisand! I love that they also use his singing for a comedic bit as well. Speaking of hunk, Regé-Jean Page is quite a good sport here as the brave, benevolent but boring knight in shining armor. He’s basically the butt of the joke for the gang of misfits which provides some of the drollest moments.
Michelle Rodriguez, who’s no stranger to popular franchises, is her usual bad-ass self but we get to see her motherly and comedic side so it’s nice to see Holga written as a multi-dimensional woman. While playing a thief, she also steals quite a few scenes here too, which is great to watch! I love that Grant has fully embraced his comedic and naughty side as he clearly relishes playing mischievous rascals. Daisy Head is perhaps the weakest link here but more so because of how her character is written, she’s like the party pooper of a merry soiree.
Directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley keep the pacing nimble and brisk which makes the 2-hour-and-14-minutes running time a breeze. The directing duo share screenwriting credit with Michael Gilio, who’s also credited for the story along with Chris McKay. Gilio and McKay were apparently in talks to direct this movie at one point, but in the end, Goldstein and Daley certainly succeeds in making an absolutely fun adaptation. I laughed throughout the whole thing and had a blast watching the creatures even despite the less-than-stellar CGI. The huge owl-bear doing its best Hulk-smash and flying obese dragon are all a hoot. The whole questioning-the-dead scene had me in stitches! The writers sure know they had comedic gold with that idea and totally ran with it.
Visually it’s nothing one hasn’t seen in Game of Thrones or the Lord of the Rings but it’s pretty decent overall. Love the rollicking score with a touch of whimsy by Lorne Balfe who also did a fantastic job scoring for TETRIS. This movie doesn’t take itself so seriously but the jokes are more good-natured instead of being smarty-pants or mean-spirited. It even has a good message that losers can be heroes and about believing in oneself. I never thought I’d even be interested in watching a D&D adaptation so imagine my astonishment that I end up loving it THIS much. If this one proves to be a smashing success, I’d be up to seeing more D&D movies with this entertaining cast.
Have you seen Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves? Well, what did YOU think?
6 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) – a hilarious heist fantasy adventure worth tagging along for!”
I’ve heard really good things about this film as I heard it’s coming to Amazon Prime sooner than I thought as I want to check it out. I have seen the 2000 film version of Dungeons and Dragons and… wow… that is one of the worst fucking films I had ever seen in my life. Jeremy Irons said the only good thing about the film was that it gave him the money to buy a castle. At least he was honest about it.
Hey Steven!! I’m SO glad I didn’t even know the previous movies existed!! I love Jeremy Irons but I have no desire to watch the 2000 version. Ahah, well at least he got a castle out of it (complete w/ a dungeon AND a dragon too perhaps?) mwahahaha!!
Back in high school, I knew some of my classmates and friends who role played in D&D games. I had no idea what it was about, one of them tried to explain it to me but I wasn’t interested. I knew it was popular with the “nerds” and “geeks” crowd back in the days. Lol! I remember the 2000 film was hyped up to be a big hit, heck Warner Bros. thought they had a franchise in hands and even released it in the prime holiday season of that year. But the film crash and burned and most people forgot about it. I’ve never seen that version and not sure I want to see this one. Maybe I’ll watch it when it hits streaming since you gave it such a rave review. Lol!
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