Years ago, while some of my friends became involved in marathon “Dungeons & Dragons” sessions, I always sat it out. It just didn’t interest me.
But the movie “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is something else entirely. Although I saw nods to the game throughout, for lengthy stretches I truly forgot I was watching a film based on a game.
That’s because it’s well-written, beautifully cast, and pretty funny. So it’s quite unlike the 2000 version starring Jeremy Irons that was so bad I truly can’t remember a single scene from it.
Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first hit for screenwriters/directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who also co-wrote the wonderful “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” The scribes, who wrote this with Michael Gilio, know they need to strike a balance of action and character development to deliver a solid story, and that’s exactly what they do here. More remarkable is that it will resound with non-fans and gamers alike.
The always-engaging Chris Pine plays Edgin Darvis, a thief (and a sometimes-lute-player) who is part of a band of like-minded individuals including the tough-as-nails Holga (Michelle Rodriguez,) con man Forge (Hugh Grant, with his wicked smile) and a not-so-great sorcerer Simon (Justice Smith.)
At the beginning of the tale, Edgin and Holga are in … you guessed it … a dungeon, where Holga makes short work of a looming newcomer who joins them behind bars. Edgin and Holga escape, and Edgin sets out to reunite with Kira, the daughter he left in Forge’s care. He also wants to find a resurrection tablet because he hopes he can bring his late wife back to life with it.
Plans go wrong, funny dialogue is uttered, there are enchantments, and the troupe stumbles upon a kind of teleportation device, charms and chatty corpses along the way.
Even though I never played D&D, I know enough about it to spy a few Easter Eggs during this journey. I know D&D devotees will find many, many more.
I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud as the characters avoid zombies, soldiers, monsters, and each other. The tone never wavers between goofy humor, charming characters, and action.
Have fun. And welcome yet another franchise to the cinematic fold.
Running time: Two hours and 14 minutes.
Rated: PG-13 for action violence and themes of loss and death.
At Cinemark, Davenport; Regal, Moline; and Palms 10, Muscatine.
Watch the trailer here.