This film checks all the boxes for a successful blockbuster.
It’s rare to see a movie theater packed close to capacity these days, but on Saturday afternoon, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” drew in a big crowd. It is not surprising as to why; “Dungeons & Dragons” has reinvigorated the classic comedy blockbuster that audiences have been missing for a few years now. It is reminiscent of films like “Star Trek” (2009) (also starring Chris Pine) and is a hugely enjoyable fantasy romp.
Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is based on the widely popular tabletop roleplaying game. The film references the game with its locations, spells and creatures, which makes for a richly populated fantasy world. It follows thieves Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) as they attempt to reconnect with Edgin’s daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) after being in prison for 2 years.
However, con-man Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant) has taken Kira and seems to be planning something sinister with the creepy and intimidating wizard Sofina (Daisy Head). Edgin and Holga recruit Doric, a druid (Sophia Lillis), and Simon, a sorcerer (Justice Smith), to help break into Forge’s castle and get their lives back.
The plot is fairly basic: a reformed thief tries to reclaim his life and earn his daughter’s favor. But the heist aspect makes the story thrilling and the magic and surrounding setting make the whole film engaging. The villains are effective, with Grant bringing the comedy and Head bringing the scary edge the film needed to keep the stakes high, so there was rarely a dull moment. When there was a slower moment in the plot, the humor was cranked higher and almost all the jokes got a hearty laugh from the crowd.
The cast has incredible chemistry, creating a believable and endearing friend group. Chris Pine excels as the comedic, charming lead and plays off of Michelle Rodriguez’s outward toughness and begrudging soft side appropriately. Justice Smith is a lovable dork and Sophia Lillis is the straight-faced magical foil to him. Regé-Jean Page plays a mysterious and poised paladin who assists them on their journey, and his overly literal persona contrasted Pine and Smith’s humor well.
Practical effects were utilized beautifully in the film, and helped bring many characters and creatures to life. It also felt like a breath of fresh air given how often CGI is overused in films (though this film had plenty of that too).
“Dungeons & Dragons” is a fun, engaging blockbuster that pulls off the action and humor seamlessly. My only complaint is that there was some strange audio dubbing with the dialogue, and frankly, there could’ve been a few more dragons.