Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ½ – Review by Andrea Carnevali

A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously wrong when they upset the wrong people. Onin cinemas now.

It will come to no surprise to those who know me well, that I have been a massive Dungeons & Dragons fan since I was a teenager (D&D for those nerds out there).

I must have spent more hours studying elves, wizards and spells than I did studying Latin, ancient Greek or Philosophy back in my school days. And of course rolling strangely-shaped dice and drawing secret maps has been second nature to me for a long time (I should probably stress that this was the 1980s a time when being a geek/nerd was almost a mark of shame, as opposed to now where the geeks are ruling the world ?).

For the profane among you, Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy role-playing board game (published in 1974 for the first time) in which a group of players explore fantasy worlds together as they embark on epic quests and level up in experience. The Dungeon Master (i.e. the game organiser) is the game’s referee, the keeper of the secrets and storyteller. Once you do it properly and get really into it, it can take over your life and the game never ends.

I have recently dragged my 10 year-old son and six of his school friends into this “magic circle” too: we have been meeting up every few weeks for the last few months now and it’s a real pleasure to see them getting more and more into it and excited about something that hasn’t got anything to do with tablets or screens or any sort of devices: this is game guided by pure imagination, a sense of camaraderie and a real spirit of adventure and exploration.

The film for the most part manages to capture that same spirit and vibe, not just in the settings, characters and mythology, but in the many details which make the world so layered and lived-in. A lot of that will certainly resonate with the fans (the true affection for the game shows on every frame), but the core of the story can certainly be followed and, crucially, enjoyed by the casual viewer too, even if the story itself might get a bit too layered, pointlessly convoluted and with too much background information for time to time, losing sight of what real driving plot should be (more than once I found myself wondering “Why are they here?”), once the film gets into the right gear, it is definitely a lot of fun.

Wisely, it rarely takes itself seriously, in fact it even pokes fun at some of the rules of the game itself (“Why can we only ask five questions with this spell? It seems a bit random” one character says at some point, speaking for the millions of us who wondered that very same question many times before).

But at the same time, it manages to makes some its more heartfelt moments work too.

The cast has a lot to do with the success of the film. They are all clearly enjoying the ride too. They are all broad archetypes of course, but that’s also part of the fun and it is to be expected: Chris Pine brings his usual charm, the likeable Justice Jesse Smith portrays a wizard with self-trust issues, and Michelle Rodriguez, as always, plays to her strengths, showing more “balls” than any of her male counterparts.

But as ever it is Hugh Grant who seems be having a new renaissance playing villains these days and here too once again he is having the time of his life and steals the show every time he is on screen.

All in all, there is enough here for an undemanding night out with friends, even if you don’t know your Tiefling from your Halfling or your XP from your AC.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves is out in cinemas right now.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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