Friday, March 31, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves - Review


It’s easy to be skeptical about the latest IP to get a Hollywood adaptation when so many of them are half hearted or just flat out lazy. Throw that adaptation into the high fantasy fare that’s so often stumbled and the expectations for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves can’t be too great. However, with the team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein at the helm, this quest to make a fun and adventurous D&D adaptation is a successful one. 

A charming thief (Chris Pine) and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a long lost relic, but their charming adventure goes dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.

From a story standpoint, it’s a pretty simple structure. Many of the beats can be seen from a mile away and aren’t too shocking once the full picture comes into view. But the story isn’t the main draw here, it’s the characters. While those who are fully versed in the lore of the actual game may see nods and easter eggs to that lore, those not in the know (yours truly) are able to latch on to the band of thieves at the center, whose chemistry and exploits have to feel very appropriately similar to playing a game amongst friends.

By now, the charisma of Chris Pine is not super surprising. As the central figure of this film, he carries a lot of weight amongst the ensemble and how they all connect, and he suits it perfectly. His primary companion, Holga, played by Michelle Rodriguez, serves as a perfect character to bounce off of him and each additional member of the crew finds a way to mesh with their inherent chemistry. But the true highlight is undoubtedly Regé-Jean Page as Xenk. Page manages to outdo Pine’s charm, but also brings a different sense of humor and a smugness that doesn’t interfere with the know-it-all, deadpan presence of his noble warrior. 

As a big proponent of more big budget fantasy films, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves perfectly scratches that itch. It’s no Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, but it clearly isn’t going for that tone in any way, opting more for the light-hearted, fun, adventurous feel that will surely bring people back for more should they ever want to make a sequel. It knows what it is, and never pretends to be anything more. 

With the bad taste of the 2000 adaptation still lingering in the minds of so many fans and audiences, the bar was not super high for this latest version. However, the results are tremendous by comparison, and the prospects of seeing more adventures and quests amongst the world that Daley and Goldstein brought to life is more than enough to satisfy even the most skeptical among us. 

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