Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): All substance but no style

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” does not have much of a sense of awe and wonder to distinguish itself enough. While it has more humor and spirit than expected, my mind kept comparing the movie with countless fantasy adventure films during last 25 years such as, yes, Peter Jackson’s the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I became more aware of how uncharacteristic the movie is in many aspects.

At least, the movie is surprisingly not that bad, considering that it is another blockbuster film based on that popular board game produced by Hasbro. As your average nerdy boy mindlessly and relentlessly occupied with getting top grades except when focusing on books and movies, I never played “Dungeons & Dragons” in addition to having no interest in that at all throughout my childhood years, and to be frank with you, I only knew about the 2000 film of the same name, which is not exactly the highpoint for everyone involved with it.

The story, written by Chris McKay and Michael Gilio and then developed into the screenplay by Gilio and directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis, is pretty familiar to anyone who has watched at least one recent fantasy adventure film or drama series. At first, we are introduced to several different main figures one by one, and they soon come to band together for accomplishing one mission after another along the story before reaching to the ultimate goal of their bumpy quest.

That ultimate goal is a certain powerful magical object which can resurrect only one dead people, and Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), a bard who became the member of some guardian group and then turned to thievery after tragically losing his dear wife because of his little unwise choice, really needs this magical object for getting his wife back for him and his young daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman). While he is currently incarcerated in some big prison along with his barbarian partner Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) after getting caught for his previous heist, he already has an escape plan for Kira and himself, and we soon see how they execute his risky escape plan in the end.

After their fairly successful escape from the prison, Edgin and Holga embark on searching for Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), who managed to run away with all those jewelries and that magical object at that time. Forge was also supposed to take care of Kira instead of Edgin, and it seems that she grows up well under his care while he becomes the new lord of some big city, but, alas, there is one big problem. Forge lied to Kira that her father abandoned her for a selfish reason, so Kira is not exactly excited to see her father again, and Forge is already ready to send Edgin and Holga back to the prison.

It turns out that Forge has a big secret plan behind his back. Along with an evil wizard named Sofia (Daisy Head), who was actually the mastermind of that heist gone wrong for Edgin and Holga, Forge has been preparing to hold a certain big event for the people of the city, and Edgin and Holga are just a minor annoyance to Forge compared to what he will get in exchange of helping Sofia accomplish her diabolical mission.

Anyway, once they manage to escape from Forge, Edgin and Holga look for anyone to help them getting his daughter back. First, they persuade Simon Aumar (Justice Smith), a young clumsy sorcerer who once worked with them, to join the group again, and Simon introduces them a female shapeshifter named Doric (Sophia Lillis). Later in the story, they approach to a dude named Xenk Yendar (Regé-Jean Page), and he agrees to take them a certain dangerous place where one helpful item has been stored.

While our several main characters bounce from one stage to another as expected, the movie provides a number of silly but funny moments, and you can see that its directors and writers are having a goofy fun with their source material. For example, I was especially amused by the scene where our several main characters try to get some information from a bunch of buried corpses to be revived temporarily and then die after answering five questions, and I also enjoyed the silly touches involved with one big fat dragon, which certainly needs some lifestyle change like me.

Although the main characters of the story are more or less than broad cardboard figures, the main cast members of the film clearly have a ball with their respective roles. While Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez complement each other well as a contrasting duo, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Chloe Coleman, and Regé-Jean Page are solid in their supporting parts, and Smith and Page contribute a considerable amount of wit and humor to the movie like Hugh Grant, who effortlessly steals the show whenever he enters the screen.

In conclusion, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is not satisfying enough for me due to its several weak aspects. No, it is not a bad film at all, and I was entertained to some degree while appreciating the game efforts from its cast and crew members, but it does not have anything particularly new or fresh beyond its very familiar genre stuffs. As you know, any good fantasy adventure film needs both style and substance, and the movie is all substance but no style – and that is a disappointment to say the least.

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