Review: ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ movie breathes new life into board game
“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” currently has an impressive 91% approval rating among critics and a 93% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes.
BAXTER — You don’t have to be a sorcerer, a knight or a wizard to enjoy “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” a new action comedy playing on the big screen.
It helps to have a working knowledge of the tabletop fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons” when seeing the latest feature film adaptation now in theaters. But even if you have never eaten a turkey leg at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, you’ll do just fine.
Chris Pine plays a bard and single father attempting to raise his daughter after a family tragedy who resorts to stealing to survive. But the charming thief has some principles and sets limits to his criminal enterprises, such as never physically harming a person or only robbing the rich.
Pine's character, Edgin Darvis, assembles a motley crew to aid him and his daughter in acts of thievery: Michelle Rodriguez as Holga Kilgore, a barbarian; Justice Smith as Simon Aumar, a half-elf sorcerer; Sophia Lillis as Doric, a shape-shifter; and Hugh Grant as Forge Fitzwilliam, a con artist.
But even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry in “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” and go sideways they do when the tightly-knit adventurers take on a job for hire from Sofina, a Red Wizard most unpleasant with ties to necromancy and with a hatred of the living.
“We’re thieves,” Darvis explains. “But we helped the wrong person steal the wrong thing. And unleashed the greatest evil the world has ever known.”
Is Darvis talking about the automated phone answering system? Nay, I say. Rather, Darvis is referring to the plans of Sophia and other Red Wizards to create an “army of the undead.”
Along the way on their epic adventure to right their wrongs, they encounter and enlist the aid of a Xenk Yendar, a holy knight played by Regé-Jean Page, another English actor in the ensemble cast. Page’s highest acting role beforehand was in “Bridgerton,” a Netflix period drama.
No quest would be complete without challenges such as a face-off with an unlikely pudgy dragon or hordes of the undead to battle along the way, and the special effects in the latest feature film adaptation rated PG-13, which runs almost two hours, are a sight to behold.
There are plenty of scenes of death-defying thrills to entertain those who are not die-hard “Dungeons & Dragons” game players in the new release or who are unfamiliar with everything except the most basic of fantasy lore, such as elves and dragons, in the feature film adaptation.
Pine is endearing as the charismatic leader who cajoles his way through any dilemma even if he faces a crisis of confidence regarding his abilities as a single father attempting to raise his daughter while undertaking an unconventional and at times very dangerous criminal vocation.
Moviegoers may recognize Pine from the latest “Star Trek” motion pictures as Capt. Kirk and anyone who has been “Fast & Furious” knows Rodriguez as star Vin Diesel’s wife in that highly profitable and successful movie franchise about another ensemble that’s fast on four wheels.
Grant as the con man in the group plays an against-type role of a double-crosser in “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” perhaps now that he has aged out of his earlier roles as a romantic interest in such movies as “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Love Actually.”
Be on the lookout for a surprise appearance in “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” for a small role — pun intended — played by an Oscar-nominated actor with ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an Avenger.
Speaking of which, if you loved that superhero team-up based on comic book characters, chances are you’ll enjoy watching the actors in the “Dungeons & Dragons” movie put aside their differences, joke with one another and kick butt in an attempt to save the day.
“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” currently has an impressive 91% approval rating among critics and a 93% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.
The consensus from the critics at RottenTomatoes.com: “An infectiously good-spirited comedy with a solid emotional core, ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ offers fun fantasy and adventure even if you don't know your HP from your OP.”
FRANK LEE is the movie columnist for the Brainerd Dispatch. He may be reached at 218-631-6470 or at email@example.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Frankfilmcritic .