Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves plays out like a high fantasy spin on the Marvel formula, back when Marvel movies weren’t a messy Frankenstein of set-ups for other projects. Sure, it has a very episodic, formulaic plot line, but it’s decently constructed and beyond that this movie has a very special trump card that should help it win over audiences:
Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and Hugh Grant sell the shit out of it.
I cannot stress this enough. Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez have enough charm to power a starship – we knew this, but both are operating at full wattage here. And Hugh Grant gives it the full obsequious, conniving rascal that you just can’t wait to see knocking flat on his back. Truly one of the great heels of our age, Grant’s career is the ultimate second act in Hollywood.
Pine plays a bard, Rodriguez a barbarian, Regé-Jean Page a paladin, Justice Smith a wannabe sorcerer, Sophia Lillis a wood elf, and lovely lovely evil Hugh Grant plays a thief who can’t be trusted. (But of course!) The plot revolves around Pine and Rodriguez busting out of prison, getting the old gang back together, going on a quest to rescue Pine’s daughter, and maybe – just maybe – taking down an evil red wizard on the way.
The gags mostly work, the visuals are strong (hurrah for studios giving their VFX teams enough time to get the job done) and it blends action, comedy, pathos and adventure perfectly.
If you’re a fan of the Saturday morning kids’ cartoon I’m also happy to report this movie features (admittedly wordless) brief cameos from that show’s characters (looking a bit like goofy cosplayers, and reminding me of the bit in Shaun of the Dead where the gang meets another gang). And if you’re a fan of the actual game there are more Easter eggs than you can shake a stick at – who knew they’d make gelatinous cubes vital to the third act?
Plus: a delightful Bradley Cooper cameo that I simply will not spoil.
It’s fun! Remember fun? Take the kids!
Dungeons and Dragons Honor Among Thieves opened the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX.