ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
When I was growing up, I was never into the role-playing games like “Dungeons & Dragons” and the like. So when I saw several months ago a preview for a new film, “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” before the movie I was watching at the theater at that time, I gave a slight eye roll and wondered exactly who had been clambering for such a movie.
However, recently, as I was searching for something to watch, the movie came up as a suggestion and I ultimately ended up clicking on it to see what I’d think of it. As it turns out, I’d think pretty positively about it. The movie follows thief Edgin (Chris Pine) and a band of fellow adventurers as they undertake a heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they come across the wrong people.
To start off, the movie is an absolute blast of fun to watch. The movie’s main group of heroes is somewhat reminiscent of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and the cast chemistry is so good, you almost think this is a legitimate group of friends who have been down the road with each other a few times before. The movie truly feels like situations that would actually happen during any role-playing game, and there’s truly an embracing of the absurdity our heroes find themselves in without going too far or over the top. With the humor used throughout, there’s no mocking of the source material and it all feels very organic between everyone, making it a joy to take in. Overall, it’s very evident the creative team wanted to take this project seriously and make it good in that regard, but they also wanted to inject lighter moments throughout, and it all results in a very good balance being struck.
With that in mind, I have to also give some praise to the overall production values. The set locations (which are in Iceland and Belfast, Northern Ireland) deserve a shoutout because I thought they looked SO gorgeous and every scene looked like a perfect vista, which makes total sense given how the movie is first and foremost a fantasy, so major props to the location scouts. I also thought the choreography for handful of fight scenes in the movie was VERY well done – everything was smooth and tightly executed, and this movie was one of the few where I said afterward “WOW that was a cool-looking fight scene!”
The casting team also deserves all the praise because they truly struck gold with everyone in the cast. Chris Pine makes Edgin a perfectly lovable rogue and is able to straddle that line between charm and smarm while also giving him some heart, particularly in scenes when he’s interacting with his daughter. Sofia Lillis is also the perfect picture of a shapeshifting druid, and she does a great job serving as one of the more grounded members of the group – I particularly love her owlbird form, which is seen a couple times in the movie. I also really enjoyed Justice Smith as the a half-elf wild magic sorcerer Simon Aumar, and he’s able to portray Simon’s uncertainty/self-confidence about how to harness his full powers perfectly. Hugh Grant also makes for a perfectly charming jerk as the antagonist Forge Fitzwilliam, a member of Edgin’s former crew who has gained a lot of power very quickly – in fact, he did such a good job, there were a couple times, especially near the movie’s climax, where I said out loud ‘PLEASE let someone punch him in the face already!’ And even though he doesn’t get a lot of screen time, I also enjoyed Regé-Jean Page as Xenk Yendar, a paladin who briefly helps the group on their quest, and he makes Xenk a perfect foil to Pine’s Edgin. So overall, the casting people did a great job.
While the movie doesn’t necessarily add anything particularly new to the overall fantasy movie genre, there were a few pleasant surprises throughout. One of the first things I noticed was how Edgin and fellow crew member Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) have a decidedly platonic relationship as opposed to being forced into a romantic relationship as the movie went on. I also really liked how Edgin is so, so supportive of Simon throughout the movie as he continues working on his powers and is always trying to build him up (which ultimately helps him in the end), and he does it in a way that’s encouraging instead of super pushy and nagging, and that’s a balance a lot of movies don’t get quite right. I also liked how the movie does a good job of making “Dungeons and Dragons” accessible to everyone, even those like myself who didn’t steep themselves in it growing up.
Overall, I enjoyed “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” and would give it a “B-plus” grade. The casting for everyone is absolute perfection, and the group chemistry between everyone allows the humor and story to flow organically and very well. The overall production values and design are also very well done, and there’s definitely that air of fantasy throughout the entire movie, and there were also a few pleasant surprises throughout that were enjoyable. My only minor quibble with the movie is there are a few moments where the movie feels a bit crowded and could have done with a little trimming/streamlining. If you’re a fantasy/adventure movie fan, there’s a chance you’ll enjoy “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.”