Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves is 'an entertaining and imaginative jape'

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves: Michelle Rodriguez as Holga and Chris Pine as Edgin. Picture by PA Photo/Paramount Pictures/Aidan Monaghan
Damon Smith

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOUR AMONG THIEVES (12A, 134 mins) Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Comedy/Romance. Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Rege-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant, Daisy Head, Chloe Coleman, Georgia Landers. Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein.

Released: March 31

PREVIOUS attempts to translate the co-operative monster-slaying and spell-casting of Dungeons & Dragons to the big screen, including a 2000 fantasy adventure starring Jeremy Irons and Marlon Wayans, failed to replicate the unabashed fun or thrill of a campaign of the roleplaying game.

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein's boisterous romp is a confident step in the right direction, combining special effects-laden action and tongue-in-cheek humour under the aegis of two dungeon masters, who struck a similarly irreverent tone with their previous film, Game Night.

The duo's breezy script, co-written by Michael Gilio, acknowledges the game's legacy with a cheeky homage to the 1980s animated TV series and fleeting appearances by creatures from D&D lore including a Mimic, Displacer Beast and Gelatinous Cube, which absorbs and digests organic matter including unfortunate adventurers.

A reliance on practical visual effects, including animatronics, puppeteering and make-up, imbues the film with nostalgic, old-fashioned charm in keeping with the gaming origins although a mind-bending sequence with a portal inside a moving stagecoach necessitates some nifty digital trickery.

Character classes such as barbarians, bards, paladins, sorcerers and wizards and the principal setting of the Forgotten Realms on the continent of Faerun are immediately recognisable but for all the reverence and revelry, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves feels like it's always one roll of a polyhedral die shy of glory.

Expertly choreographed fight sequences land glancing blows but never a sucker punch, jokes elicit warm smiles but rarely a full-blooded chortle and a big emotional pay-off is telegraphed far in advance.

Greatness is within Daley and Goldstein's grasp but it slips tantalisingly through their fingers.

Following the death of his wife Zia (Georgia Landers), lute-playing bard Edgin (Chris Pine) abandons a noble pledge and turns to petty thievery with his surrogate sister, exiled barbarian Holga (Michelle Rodriguez).

The duo recruit self-doubting sorcerer Simon (Justice Smith) and incorrigible rogue Forge (Hugh Grant) to their merry gang.

A plan to steal the fabled Scroll of Reawakening backfires and Edgin is incarcerated with Holga in the giant panopticon of Revel's End on charges of grand larceny and skulduggery.


Justice Smith as Simon, Chris Pine as Edgin, Sophia Lillis as Doric and Michelle Rodriguez as Holga. Picture by PA Photo/Paramount Pictures/Aidan Monaghan


A daring prison break shepherds Edgin and Holga to the seemingly impenetrable vault of Castle Never and a hare-brained heist that harnesses the combined talents of sorcerer Simon, shape-shifting tiefling druid Doric (Sophia Lillis) and dreamy paladin Xenk (Rege-Jean Page).

In their way stands menacing Red Wizard Sofina (Daisy Head), who specialised in the school of necromancy.

Shot on location in the Britain and the north, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves is an entertaining and imaginative jape that aims bigger than Daley and Goldstein can ultimately deliver.

Pine sparks a pleasingly antagonistic relationship with Page while Rodriguez performs the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to on-screen fisticuffs.

Ray Chan's impressive production design constantly dazzles the eyes but the heart goes wanting.

RATING: 6/10