Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves makes fantasy fun again

Dungeons & Dragons has well and truly made it to the mainstream.

What was once a super niche, underground pastime is now the basis for a blockbuster film. Of course thanks in no small part to it featuring so heavily in Netflix's Stranger Things.

The film is a big budget fantasy adventure with a star-studded cast including Chris Pine, Hugh Grant and Michelle Rodriguez.

Chris Pine stars in Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

Plot-wise it's a heist film — Chris Pine's daughter is being held captive and after assembling a team of varying abilities they go on a quest to get her back.

Of course in true Dungeons & Dragons fashion, this means that they have to get some item, but then to get that item they have to fetch some other item for some guy, who will only help them if they also complete some other quest.

There's a lot of resorting to Plan B and when that fails, we see Plan C, D, E and so on.

At the best of times I'm not a massive fantasy guy, other than Lord of the Rings (which I appreciate more as a feat of filmmaking), it's been pretty slim pickings on the big screen.

Pictured: A Dragon. Not Pictured: A Dungeon

As soon as you introduce dragons and accompanying dungeons into a film, it's for some reason a foregone conclusion that the film has to be super serious. Honour Among Thieves is a breath of fresh air for fantasy.

The film comes from the directors of the film Game Night. If you haven't seen it, it's one of the best comedies of the last 10 years. What makes Game Night so good is that directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein understand that genre can be used to enhance comedy.

If you watched Game Night with the sound off, you would think you're watching a thriller. The same approach is taken with Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves — the genre stuff is all true to form. Without the witty repartee you still have impeccable creature design, costumes and set pieces.

There's nothing particularly shocking about how the film plays out. In fact you could be forgiven for calling it predictable. In fact I might just come out and say that it's predictable myself.

I don't believe it's a requirement of every single film that it be full of twists and turns, but traveller beware, here there be dragons (dragons being plot beats you see coming).

A scene from Honour Among Thieves.

The highlight for me of seeing this in the cinema was a group of people who were clearly hardcore D&D fans. Every time a location was mentioned in a throwaway sentence or some strange looking creature ran past the screen in an establishing shot, they would cheer or cackle with recognition.

In most screenings I would find this annoying (a similar thing happened during The Whale of all films), but the secondhand joy I got from them and also having them make clear that this wasn't just your run-of-the-mill fantasy film — this was made for fans of the IP.

So Dungeons & Dragons fans out there, trust this guy who has never played when he says that there's plenty in there for you. Non-fans, you still get a fun, lighthearted romp.

Diehard fans have the right to be weary of a new adaptation though. You may not know this but there have been three other Dungeons and Dragons movies.

In 2000 a film was released starring Jeremy Irons, who allegedly hasn't seen the film, but bought a castle with the money he made from it.

This was followed by two sequels, Wrath of the Dragon God and The Book of Vile Darkness. Let me tell you this... they are some of the worst movies I have ever seen.

Now, I've seen movies so bad it would make your head spin. But you couldn't pay me to rewatch Book of Vile Darkness. I wouldn't wish watching it upon my worst enemy... actually I probably would 'cause I'm petty and vindictive.


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