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Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves (Film Review)

3 min read

Board games have a worse history with film adaptations than video games – if such a thing can be true. For every Clue there's Battleship, Dungeons and Dragons… okay so it's not a very big list but even Clue isn't great outside of a majestic Tim Curry performance. After the 2000 flop that pitted wooden actors against mediocre visual effects, we get a reboot some twenty three years later from directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.

From the off this seems like an interesting prospect given that the duo directed the thoroughly enjoyable Game Night, so the two taking on the most popular of table top roleplaying games might be recipe for success. The film takes the world of the games and introduces us to a cabal of loveable rogues – Edgin (), a bard and former Harper on a mission to rescue his daughter, Holga (), his best friend and barbarian who was exiled from her tribe, Simon – no seriously, Simon – (Justice Smith) a pretty poor wizard, Doric (Sophia Lillis) a tie fling druid and Xenk (Regé-Jean Page) a paladin. Together they must try and stop Forge () who has usurped power of Neverwinter and taken Edgin's daughter Kira as his own. There's also something about Voldermort looking witches.

The issue with the film is that while there is a good amount of fun heist style “let's build a team” and action with a good degree of style in the direction, even describing the film feels like getting smacked in the face with a Silmarillion's worth of lore. What Daley and Goldstein appear to forget is that even Peter Jackson or the early Potter films eased us in to the lore. We didn't want straight into the Triwizards, and Godrick's Hollows, and Hallows (deathly or otherwise) or Elder wands, we were offered a foundation on which to grow the world of the magic. At times the film dumps so much magic-babble on the audience that it feels like sitting down to episode 7 of season 5 of Game of Thrones without watching the proceeding episodes. Silly names, silly objects and silly places are thrown around as if we have all been locked in a twelve year campaign with our friends.

Paramount Pictures

For fans of the games – for they are many, and mighty – this may be a good thing. It certainly doesn't pander to us muggles with it's red wizard plotting and hither-thither sticks, but franchises need to be more welcoming in their early instalments for the newcomers. It should also be noted that considering the film is called we appear to have a decidedly lack of dungeons – one, and dragons – one fat dragon, one made from a statue, one glimpsed in a flashback.

That's not to say that the film isn't great fun. If you ignore the ridiculous amount of bing-bong chatter, there's such easy chemistry between the cast and the jokes are belly-rattlingly funny, especially between the crew and resurrected corpses. Hugh Grant is the film's MVP as a slimy Hugh Grant-like politician. There's not much in the way of acting – Pine plays a loveable rogue, Rodriguez plays a tough lady, Page plays a boring posh boy, Smith plays an idiot, Lillis plays a resourceful young ‘un, Hugh Grant plays Hugh Grant.

But, the film romps along at a good old pace, and doesn't let up for much of it's runtime and there is a lot of tactility to the world instead of throwing layers upon layers of CGI at everything, it feels at times very hand made. It just might not appeal to people who haven't devoured the games.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves is released in UK cinemas on March 31st.