Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

It’s possibly the nostalgia talking, but I absolutely loved Dungeons & Dragons growing up. Not the role-playing game (I didn’t have that many friends) but the cartoon that ran in the 80s. In 2000 film a big-screen adaptation based on the source material was released. As it wasn’t based on the cartoon I had little interest, as did critics and audiences as the movie bombed in both cases. Despite this, it became an unlikely trilogy with two sequels released straight to DVD. A rights issue kept talks of a reboot on hold until it was announced that in 2023, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves would get a theatrical release. In a time of big-budget films going straight to streaming, this looked like one that would be tailor-made for that market. Sure, the film boasted some big names, but let’s be honest…it just didn’t look very good. There was something smug about it (Pine especially) that didn’t sit with people I spoke to. But were they being fair based on a three minutes clip?

Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriquez star as Edgan and Holga, two thieves who are captured while attempting to steal the resurrection tablet. Edgan hopes to bring his wife back from the dead: her death is something he blames himself for. Once they escape, they set out to find his missing daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman). Kira has been living with their old thieving buddy, Forge (Hugh Grant), who has become a lord. While life has worked out pretty sweet for Forge, Edgan’s quest to right the wrongs of his past and create a future for his daughter brings them into conflict with some powerful and dark forces that threaten the realm.

Yes, admittedly it didn’t look too great from the trailers, yet D&D: HAT is an absolute hoot of a movie that proves to be incredibly infectious. By playing it for laughs, it almost comes across like a 21 Jump Steet style interpretation of its source material. The comedy is funny and while it borders on parody at times, it also remains respectful to fans of the role-playing game. The gags are often at the expense of our characters and, although there are gentle nudges at the fantasy genre overall, it does so without malicious mocking.

It’s fair to say the cast are having great fun in their roles as our main players ham it up and showcase their strengths. Pine is as charismatic as ever, portraying an almost annoying likeability while Rodriguez plays the tough hardass with a kind soul as well as she ever has. Grant is brilliant as the sleazy duplicitous lord while Justice Smith and Sophia Lilis shine in supporting roles.

D&D: HOT doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel nor does it looks to sit alongside fantasy epics such as Lord of the Rings, instead it offers a lighter alternative that’s more digestible and less po-faced. At over two hours, it does feel like it is about to overstay its welcome before pulling it back for an exciting finale. With laughs, dragons and a great cast, D&D: HOT is a dark horse in these dark times. Thankfully, there’s little dark about the film as it provides sheer entertainment throughout. The graveyard scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Thomas Simpson
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