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Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Photograph: Paramount Pictures

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Hugh Grant makes a magical villain in this enchantingly goofy fantasy-adventure

If you’re unfortunate enough to remember the last movie titled Dungeons & Dragons, don’t let that put you off this one. While 2000’s monster flop is admittedly a low bar, this second attempt to translate the hugely popular fantasy tabletop role-playing game into cinematic magic is vastly superior.

As well as properly rooting itself in the game’s lore – a win for its players, who will find plenty of geeky Easter eggs here – Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves crucially captures the spirit of the game: that sense of gathering with friends to embark on deadly quests, while also having a bloody good laugh.

Writer-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are seasoned purveyors of comedy who also love subverting genre conventions, as they proved with 2018’s raucous action-comedy Game Night. This one is a fantasy-adventure caper which owes more to Python than Tolkien, especially during one hilarious sequence in which its heroes attempt to glean a key piece of information by interrogating corpses via a ‘Speak with Dead’ spell, which only allows the interrogator five questions (‘That’s arbitrary,’ someone notes). 

Hugh Grant plays each scene like a tomcat with a ball of wool

Why they’re doing this is less important than the fun of their journey, though at its core the film is another tale of a bad dad. Here, it’s bard-turned-thief-turned-convict Edgin, played with roguish appeal by Chris Pine, who must win back his alienated daughter (Chloe Coleman), while also battling a sorcerous foreign power trying to dominate his homeland. To do so, he gathers a motley team: Michelle Rodriguez as a world-weary barbarian, Sophia Lillis as a shapeshifting druid, Justice Smith as a sorcerer with self-esteem issues and, most entertainingly, Regé-Jean Page as a shiny-armoured paladin who only walks in straight lines.

While the plotting is a tad messy, the film is full of pleasant surprises. There’s Hugh Grant as duplicitous antagonist Forge Fitzwilliam, playing each scene like a tomcat with a ball of wool. Then there’s the slick inventiveness of its action sequences, including a thrilling chase in which Lillis’s character morphs through a variety of animal forms while desperately escaping a castle.

But most surprising is the way this otherwise unashamedly silly and scrappy film so effectively bears its heart. The last thing we expected was to have, come the finale, tears in our eyes.

In cinemas worldwide Mar 31.

Written by
Dan Jolin

Cast and crew

  • Director:Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
  • Screenwriter:Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio
  • Cast:
    • Hugh Grant
    • Chris Pine
    • Michelle Rodriguez
    • Regé-Jean Page
    • Justice Smith
    • Chloe Coleman
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