Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves had all the makings of a bomb. It’s a big budget blockbuster based on a relatively niche IP with a star-studded ensemble one would normally think is above this. Against the odds, it’s undeniably fun and about as good as it could have possibly been.
The film follows a band of adventurers who go on a quest to retrieve a lost relic that could reunite one of their families. As one would expect from a “Dungeons & Dragons” movie, the story is whimsical, complex, and often a bit random. It’s undeniably hard-to-follow, but it’s still a ton of fun.
Given that the movie is directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, one would naturally expect it to be very comedic, and the jokes come really quickly. There is a good deal of humor coming from in-jokes that are designed for hardcore fans, but also plenty of broadly funny moments that will appeal to general audiences.
Arguably even more impressive is the fact that the film manages to be one of the most emotionally resonant blockbusters in recent memory. The writers made the wise decision of anchoring the movie with the father-daughter relationship between Pine’s character and his daughter. Even though it’s mildly conventional, it works extremely well. There is also the benefit of the group dynamic that provides an additional layer of emotion.
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The action sequences Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves are also genuinely fantastic. It should be no surprise, because the Fabergé egg scene in Game Night was among the best in the film, but there is so much kineticism to the direction that it’s a ton of fun. There are at least three to four action sequences that are downright fantastic.
Also surprising is the fact that the visuals are quite good. The production design, practical effects, and CGI do a great job of immersing viewers in the surreal and rich world of the IP. While many of the references may be lost on novices, Daley and Goldstein do a good enough job with the world-building that it is very enjoyable nonetheless.
The movie also benefits from a pretty amazing ensemble. Everyone feels like they are having the time of their lives in their roles, and it’s infectious. It’s one of the best performances in Pine’s career, as it takes advantage of his natural charisma and comedy. But everyone in the cast is great, including Hugh Grant, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Michelle Rodriguez, and a scene-stealing turn from Regé Jean-Page.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is much more enjoyable than one would expect, but it’s largely thanks to the amount of talent involved behind and in front of the camera. It’s flawed and convoluted, but for those looking for a good time at the movies, it’s hard to go wrong here.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is screening at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival, which runs March 10-18 in Austin, TX.
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