Adventure full of charm: 'Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves' review

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Adventure full of charm: 'Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves' review
A scene from "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves"
Paramount Pictures

MANILA, Philippines — "Dungeons & Dragons," the fantasy role-playing game that has captivated players for nearly half a century, turns to the big screen for an adventure in "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves."

The main player of the film is Chris Pine's Edgin Darvis who turns to theft with his barbaric friend Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) following the death of his wife, that is until they get caught in a heist gone awry.

Escaping from prison, the two try to reconnect with Edgin's daughter but their former rogue comrade Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant) has been feeding lies in order to maintain power and profit, and so Edgin and Holga must find a way to get their little girl back — and with some help maybe a little treasure on the way.

Directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley have concocted a film wherein it appeals to players of the original game and to people whose basic knowledge of "Dungeons & Dragons" stems from "Stranger Things" (which is a good starting point anyhow).

Hardcore fans will no doubt enjoy the references and easter eggs dropped all throughout, but even regular viewers will find themselves having fun at what they're seeing.

The fantasy aspect does make the film lean towards "The Lord of the Rings" territory, but it actually comes off more like "The Princess Bride"; Grant himself has compared it to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which isn't a far-off analogy.

Stripped down to the very core, "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" is a basic heist film with simple story beats — Plans A to C, MacGuffins galore — made enjoyable by the wild adventure being taken on.

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That is not all to say the movie isn't entertaining, in fact quite the oppposite, especially with a cast that oozes charisma like they've channeled the very characters they're portraying.

Pine is the definition of undying charm opposite a badass Rodriguez who definitely should be considerd as a leading action star, and then there's the slick and smug Grant just chewing his scenes each time he has a chance to show off.

The "Monty Python" comparison by Grant is best seen during the graveyard scene, which is just one example of a tight screenplay paying off because of clever practical effects and even cleverer acting.

The abundance of visual effects isn't at all distracting, neither is the suave nature of Regé-Jean Page — it almost seems criminal to place him high up the cast list given how less screen time he has to the equally good Justic Smith and Sophia Lillis.

By the beginning of the third act the conclusion is sort of predictable — the main antagonist isn't even Grant's Forge, and their storyline feels rushed — although the final action sequences did make for a grand finale and by no means does it take away from how entertaining and funny the movie is as a whole.

In a world where intentions are cloudy and aspirations often murkier, "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" rolled the 20-sided die and scored high for an exciting campaign.

"Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" premieres in Philippines theaters on March 29, with sneak previews on March 20 and 21.

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