Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Keep your popcorn full and your soda handy, this will be the Saturday Matinee pleaser that you have been looking for. If Ray Harryhausen were to make a movie based on the game “Dungeons and Dragons”, this might have been it. As it is, we are forty years past his prime and the technology has changed, but the sense of adventure and fun is pretty much the same. In terms of style the only real difference is the snarky commentary offered by the characters as they go through the adventure, otherwise, this could be “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” or “Jason and the Argonauts”. 

From a family perspective, there is little reason to worry about taking your kids to this. It is fantasy scary, but not gory or violent like so many contemporary adventure films. Chris Pine is a noble scoundrel who fits in the mold of Han Solo or Jack Sparrow. He may not always have the right reason for doing the right thing, but it usually balances out in the end. Michelle Rodriguez is the badass warrior that you expect her to be, she is fast and furious in dispatching the soldiers that stand in her way, and you know she will have a heart of gold in the end. Once upon a time Hugh Grant might have had the Chris Pine role, but now, in his maturity, he is regularly playing villains and having a blast doing so. The only thing that parents might be concerned about is that the word “S#@t gets dropped three times. That’s it as far as vulgarity. Otherwise I can’t account for the PG-13 rating rather than simply PG, except I am sure the producers don’t want to position this as a kids film, but it is family friendly. 

If you played the game, maybe you will be in on some of the references and understand the magic items that come into the story. There are also multiple cultures referred to and creatures of all sorts that are both dangerous and friendly. I never played once, but I could follow everything that was going on. Maybe a gamer would be more satisfied, but I doubt it. I also appreciated the humorous references to elves, dwarves and what could be hobbits in the film. Those may be part of the game, or maybe they are quick parody references to LOTR tropes, but they were fun and welcome whenever they popped in. 

Chloe Colman is a young actress who has appeared in three movies I’ve seen in the last three months. In addition to this film, she is one of the Avatar Children, she travels to ancient Earth in “65“, so she has been busy. Justin Smith transplants the same character he played in the last two Jurassic Park movies, into a struggling wizard in this story. Ineffectual characters that over achieve is a recurring theme in this movie. Of course they are balanced out by characters like Rodriguez’ Holga and Regé-Jean Page’s Xenk, an amalgam of Aragon/Legolas and Gandalf, dolled up as a dreamy warrior. 

This movie is full of ironic escapes, dashing confrontations and conventional conflicts. It is all put together in a fast paced fantasy that should keep you entertained for an afternoon or evening. There is a lot of humor, both in story points and in character development. The effects look good enough for the film, and there are plenty of turns in the story to keep you engaged in spite of the well worn game structure of obstacle, solution, complication, completion and then new obstacle. Does any of it mean anything? No. Does it need to? No, It just needs to keep us entertained for 2 hours and it does so quite well. 

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