Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
  • Release Date: – 31/03/2023
  • Cast: – Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Daisy Head
  • Director: – John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein

This was my first Dungeons and Dragons experience. I heard the name and even saw the trailer of the previous films growing up but something about them kept me away from them. However, when the trailer of the latest film dropped, there was something in it that captured my imagination. It was not just the fun banter between the characters and the gorgeous-looking visual effects and character designs. There was something that told me that this film was going to be a lot of fun. With that expectation, I walked into it with another friend of mine who has the attention span of a 5-year-old in a candy store. I knew that it would either be extremely good, or it would be a stinker. Which one of the two the film would turn out to be was the biggest question?  

The story: –

In the fantasy town of Neverwinter, Edgin (Chris Pine), a government spy turned thief formed his own gang and was doing well for himself. While pulling off a job for a magician, Sofina (Daisy Head) he and his closest aide Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) are apprehended and sent to prison. He entrusts his daughter in the care of one of his gang members, Forge (Hugh Grant) and promises to return to claim her back. Edgin and Holga escape from prison and find Forge sitting comfortably as the lord of Neverwinter. He then refuses to hand over Edgin’s daughter and also a magical artefact that Edgin had stolen to reanimate his dead wife. Edgin must now recruit the services of a plethora of strange individuals and find a way to first disarm Forge and then reclaim his daughter and also the artefact so that he could reanimate his wife. While he is at it, he is forced to deal with a greater and more sinister threat that looks set to destroy Neverwinter and turn all the citizens into bloodthirsty undead.

Outstanding visual effects and creature designs: –

The first thing that I noticed about Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was its beautiful visuals and better still visual effects. The world that John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Directors) create based on the inputs from the games that the film is based on feels lived in, real and organic. The characters look very much the part of this strange world and everything about it feels in place. The very first sequence of the film involving a criminal transfer at the dungeons is built beautifully and with the number of moving pieces that one would expect in a real-world prison. The topography and the dungeon are established with such flare that I was in awe of it. This set up the mood for the rest of the film which was equally fantastic to look at. The only thing that I felt lacking was the absence of a prolonged appearance from a dragon. For a film called Dungeons and Dragons, there are awfully fewer dragons and dungeons.

Coming back to the visual effects of the film, it has been a while since I have seen creatures that are this imaginative and feel so organic. The VFX work was so on point that I felt that I could practically run my hands over the furry externals of one of the creatures. There is at least one character that has the ability to transform into different creatures and that character is used to the advantage of the film to showcase some of the meatiest and most eye-catching pieces of action in the film. The same character is also used to bring back memories of a certain “Avenger” moment that has been extremely popular. The different creatures are not only creative but are rendered extremely well and add to the mysterious and colourful world of the film. It must also be noted that they all have their respective places in the world and don’t feel forcefully placed in it just for the sake of adding a dash of visual splendour.

Wonderfully choreographed and executed action sequences that lacked novelty: –

The hand-to-hand combat sequences in the film are also extremely physical and showcase a kind of physicality that I didn’t expect from a film of this nature. Particular mention has to be made of the fights involving Michelle Rodriguez’s Holga who is often put in the middle of physically demanding action sequences and always comes out trumps. Seeing her pummel men most brutally looks great on screen and was thoroughly enjoyable. There are a few swordfights too and a prolonged arena encounter that felt well done even though they lacked novelty.

Proficient performances that needed more urgency: –

Chris Pine has his own brand of humour and style of acting that he tends to carry in almost all films and series that he is a part of. He tried his hands at different characters before but these days he repeats himself a lot. Some like this avatar of his and then some don’t. I belong to the first category of people and hence knew what to expect from his performance. He didn’t disappoint me even though a character like Edgin needed a lot of urgency, tension and frustration in its mannerisms. However, I believe that the directors had a certain vision for the film and its leading man and Pine delivered on all counts in line with that vision.

Michelle Rodriguez was great in the film. She carries forward from where her character in the Fast and the Furious franchise left off and takes it a few notches up in the physicality and brutality that the character can unleash. While at it, she also shows her tender side from time to time which makes the character even more wholesome. Hugh Grant felt oddly similar to the smooth-talking conman that he played in Guy Ritchie’s Operation Fortune very recently. He is also getting extremely predictable and repetitive these days but for now, I have no issues with his rendering here.

The comedy works but it also destroys the gravity of the film and its plot: –

This isn’t something that I say often but the comedy of the film is one of its fortes and also leads to its downfall. While I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the comedy and was giggling almost constantly at the histrionics pulled by the character of Edgin, it cannot be denied that the comedy liquidates the tension and the thrill that a film of this nature heavily banks on. The comedy reminds us that this is in the end a fun and harmless adventure and also that nothing bad will ever happen to the principal characters that we started loving so much. It also makes a mockery out of the villains and at least one of the villains is nothing more than comic relief.

Lack of a compelling antagonist: –

That brings me to the lack of a compelling antagonist in the film that I felt very much impacted the overall impact of the story. For a story like this to succeed, the film needed a compelling antagonist. We believe that we have one in the form of a Voldemort-like overlord but after a brief appearance in the middle of the film and then again in a flashback, he never makes a return. It is left up to his main aide to do all the heavy lifting. She does that well but is so easily subdued by our heroes that it leaves a lot to be desired. That is not all, the villain’s plans though elaborate, don’t feel all that convincing and are taken apart by our heroes rather easily. A sense of fear and tension was completely lacking. Thus, in the end, we are left with a story that is about a father who is going out of his league to reclaim his daughter from the grasp of a villain who is about to turn an entire city into a world populated by the undead but he goes about doing it in the most light-hearted manner possible. That may work for many but for me, it was not the kind of story that demanded the comedic treatment.

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Final words: –

Overall, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was a mildly entertaining and constantly comedic film. It was always gorgeous to look at. It had some of the best visual effects that I have seen of late and most of the performances were in keeping with the nature of the content. It can be an entertaining watch for the ones who are in the mood for a light-hearted adventure that doesn’t involve any serious stakes or take itself seriously.

Rating: – 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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