Fans of the tabletop RPG, “Dungeons and Dragons’,” have been waiting with bated breath for the arrival of this movie since they revealed its title in early 2022. However, this was not entirely out of excitement. Some felt cautious optimism or outright dread. I am happy to say, as a D&D player, that “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is stupidly good.
Directed by Jonathon Goldstein of “Game Night” (2018) fame and John Francis Daley, this movie was a wild ride, and easily enjoyable by anyone, tabletop nerd or not.
Starring Chris Pine as the bard, Edgin, and Michelle Rodriguez as the barbarian, Holga, the film follows four unlikely heroes on a heist to steal the treasure of a corrupt lord, played by Hugh Grant, while also trying to save Edgin’s daughter, played by Chloe Coleman.
Pine’s and Rodriguez’s unlikely chemistry creates a solid foundation for a story that, while not high art, is absolutely well-done entertainment.
Their co-stars build upon that foundation, though to varying extents. Justice Smith gives probably the best performance of his career, and Sophia Lillis certainly was there and did act, though did not make much of an impression.
The standout here was Regé-Jean Page as the overly heroic and angelic paladin, Xenk. This man stole the show every second he was on screen, with acting that struck a perfect balance between being bombastic and self-serious.
Another highlight of the film was, surprisingly, the cinematography. Barry Peterson, who worked as the cinematographer for “Jumper” (2008), and “21 Jump Street,” killed it here. The amount of personality on display in Peterson’s work is astonishing for this kind of project and he plays an integral role in some very amusing one-shot sequences.
The practical effects were a fresh drink of water. When seeing them in the theater, I was surprised and happy to see good puppet work done in a project other than Star Wars, but it is worth noting that the film’s computer-generated imagery can look rather unfinished at times, similar to PS3 video game graphics.
The writing will bring viewers back to this movie. The film calls upon the hectic comedic nature of role-playing with its absurd premises that will remind many D&D players of their own experiences playing. Seasoned RPG players will recognize the silliness, like having to reschedule a session because one person is missing, witnessing players make ridiculous plans that somehow work, and making critical mistakes that lead to hilarious outcomes. Whether these connections are intentional or not, members of the tabletop community will have much to talk about after seeing this movie.
What won’t be talked about, however, is the story, which is very simple, and has a very stale villain, played by Daisy Head. While she gives a decent performance, the script gives her creative table scraps to work with.
Even though this movie drags at times, and has a villain as entertaining as an off-white colored wall, it will keep your attention with creative problems and even more creative solutions that border on being completely ridiculous, with characters that are memorable and relatable.
I was laughing along and geeking out, and even though it may lack in some areas, “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” makes up for it with a thrilling and fun experience that is worth making the time to see in theaters.
Quay Skankey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @SkankeyQuay, or on Instagram @quay_skankey.