Action packed and laugh-out-loud funny, this adaptation of the tabletop role-playing game will surprise viewers both familiar and unfamiliar with the game.
It was surprising that Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, directors of Game Night,were selected to start another potential franchise from Paramount Pictures. While Game Night is one of the best comedies to come out in the past five years, going from a comedy (what they’ve been known for in years past) to a big budget affair is no small task (though they were previously tasked to direct this year’s The Flash, but then left that project). However, instilling their sense of humor into a fantasy film like Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is exactly the type of thing that helps it stand out in the genre. Thanks to its great cast of characters, excellent script, and plenty of adventure, Dungeons & Dragons successfully rolls as highly entertaining.
Dungeons & Dragons wastes no time getting into its adventure by way of flashbacks, told by the bard Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) in a prison with the barbarian Holga Kilgore. From there, Edgin and Holga go on a quest in hopes of assembling a team to help retrieve a relic that will benefit Edgin and make the team around him rich.
Like any other fantasy film, Dungeons & Dragons is no different in its quest-like approach, as we visit many foreign places (and yes, an actual dungeon) that help fill any fantasy voids. And people familiar with the tabletop game will be able to quickly identify the character classes from the game, like a bard, barbarian, druid, or sorcerer. But thankfully, the writers, who include the directors along with Michael Gilio, make this film as accessible as possible to general audiences. Sure, you may get some of the references from the game (especially one that is arguably the funniest moment in the film, even if you have never played the game), but the film is accessible to anyone looking for adventure and laughs in the fantasy genre. Whether it’s from years past referenced in the film or the consequences from a character’s actions in the film, Dungeons & Dragons will have audiences laughing at the mayhem they are witnessing on screen throughout the film.
A large portion of what makes Dungeons & Dragons so entertaining is its cast, led by Chris Pine. No stranger to being a hero in a blockbuster franchise, Pine plays a different type of hero in this film, which shows those who may have forgotten just how funny the actor is (remember, he was also great in Horrible Bosses). Included alongside Pine for most of the adventure are characters executed well by Michelle Rodriguez, who gets to flex her muscles (literally and figuratively) outside the Fast & Furious franchise as a barbarian, and Justice Smith, who plays a bumbling wizard who lacks self-confidence. Sophia Lillis and Hugh Grant are also nice additions to the cast as a druid and rogue. But of all the cast members mentioned above, none of them match Regé-Jean Page, who plays a paladin who steals the show once he makes his entrance in the film. Page, who got instant fame from Netflix’s Bridgerton, finally gets to shine in something outside that hit show. Delivering some of the film’s best lines and moments, Page’s character, Xenk Yendar, deserves his own spin-off film after this.
It’s been some time since the fantasy genre has not only had a quality film like Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, but one that’s also so accessible and hilarious for general audiences to enjoy. That alone earns a high mark for the film, which shows initiative in standing out among the crowd.
(out of five stars)