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Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Review

by Daniel Reynolds
4.0 out of 5.0 stars

The role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons didn’t invent fantasy, yet its many lands are home to the genre’s defining features. The new D&D film from John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, tagged with the subtitle Honor Among Thieves, appreciates this expansive irreality. They’ve tossed in every creature and trope possible—while borrowing from other prominent touchstones—to roll out a surprisingly entertaining throwback film.

As with any D&D tale, it begins with assembling a party, this time led by Edgin (an impossibly charming Chris Pine). With the story already in progress, we learn Edgin’s wife is dead, his daughter distant, and that he’s in prison with his partner in thievery, Holga (Michelle Rodriguez). As these things go, there’s also an evil force at work and others who come into play (including a roguish Hugh Grant). While there’s indeed much exposition in Daley and Goldstein’s script (co-written with Michael Gilio), the film has fun with it. Do you need to know the significance of Baldur’s Gate, the arcana of the Red Wizards, or why there are cat-people about? No, but these characters know, and they’re believable enough in their fantasy to get us to care. Given how many boring CGI-laden films there are nowadays, it’s a minor miracle this one instead revels in what makes its source material special: that strange alchemy of joy and chaos that can emerge whenever one’s imagination takes off. Sure, the film is too long and too obviously riffs on Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter—but it’s also clever enough to avoid trouble.

To use the game’s parlance, I wasn’t expecting a high D20 roll with Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. No one was asking for this film, the previous spin-offs were flops, and it had the look of a lazy cash-in attempt. Kudos then to Daley and Goldstein for embracing both the grandeur and inherent silliness of D&D. Unlike other film franchises, I’m not even upset at the prospect of this story’s continuation. That’s part of D&D’s magic, too. On and on it goes…

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