The fear that would rush over me when someone would ask me to join one of their ‘Dungeons & Dragons‘ campaigns is severe. The thought of sitting down at a table for hours on end participating in something that requires this much attention from me is horrifying. If you don’t know by now, this has become somewhat of a series on this site, where I review film adaptations of games despite never having played them before. I am not a gamer by any means, I can’t even bother to turn a console on and spend a few hours on it but in movie form, I am indeed intrigued. The tagline “No Experience Necessary“ IS BRILLIANT because it gets folk like me to give it a chance and putting it on this afternoon, I can’t say I regretted it.
minor spoilers for ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves‘ are featured in this review.
In terms of fantasy movies starring Chris Pine, ‘Into the Woods‘ is the standard to meet but to be fair that was a blockbuster musical so this movie never had a chance of beating it personally. To be fair, ‘Dungeons & Dragons‘ comes fairly close as this movie took me by surprise. It’s quite funny how shocked I was at how good this movie looked because it wasn’t really advertised as a must-see epic blockbuster which it definitely is, maybe not a must-see but I would definitely recommend it. The first thought that occurred to me while watching this was that Hollywood truly doesn’t make movies like this anymore, of course, it’s based on a hugely popular IP but the idea of slamming an all-star cast in a big-budget fantasy comedy is unheard of these days, it’s usually reserved for streaming. Make no mistake, this movie deserves to be seen on the big-screen, it’s a perfect fit. Sadly, this exact type of movie has been missing at the cinema for years because outside the ‘Fantastic Beasts‘ franchise and ‘The Hobbit‘ movies which have lasted as long as they have purely because of the loyal fanbase, there really aren’t any fair comparisons. ‘Into the Woods‘ comes back into play as I find that it is a very fair comparison not just because of Pine but because of the lavish production, star-power and epic feel and that did around the same business as this movie sadly which isn’t that much. That being said, while studios won’t be happy about the money, they should be happy about the movie they delivered which has no right to be as good as it is.
In all honesty, while I’m glad the movie exists and that it’s being received as well as it is, I’m not particularly in the group that’s obsessing over it right now. Despite liking the movie overall, I still believe there are a few flaws that hold it back from being a nearly-perfect movie. First off, the runtime is way too long, there is absolutely no need for this movie to be two hours and fifteen minutes, absolutely no reason at all. The pacing wavered at times, it took a while to get going and the third act just takes forever to finish. It also would be quite insane to watch this without subtitles because I would not understand half the dialogue and the humour is very much led by it. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the talent behind the criminally underrated 2018 film ‘Game Night‘, was behind this movie but having seen it, it makes a ton of sense. The only downside is that it takes a while for the movie to get going and they have some trouble balancing tones in the start making it feel rather weird to not know what the movie is supposed to make you feel. Then again, I could’ve very well anticipated a lot more comedy than there was in the actual film. The emotional core of the movie is well-written for the most part even if it is predictable but even then that’s part of the charm of this movie. The plot regarding Chris Pine’s Ed and his daughter Kira is made to be this hugely important part which is odd because Kira disappears for a huge chunk of the second act, if not entirely.
All of this being said, there is quite a lot to like about ‘Dungeons & Dragons‘ namely the comedy, surprisingly fantastic action sequences and great character work. The ensemble cast here is perfectly cast, even the pleasant surprise cameo was great. Everyone got their moment to shine except for Pine who shines throughout, he carries this movie tremendously, it’s the type of role that reminds everyone how charming and funny he is. Make him the lead more often, Hollywood! The true standout however is surprisingly Regé-Jean Page who was just perfect here. After the abysmal ‘The Gray Man‘, I can now finally see why everyone loves this guy. Sophia Lilis doesn’t get much to do acting wise but she does have arguably the best action sequence which is this astonishing one-shot of her transforming into multiple animals to escape the guards. It was at this moment that the film truly captured my attention. Justice Smith has this questionably British accent going on which is quite distracting but his comedic chops make up for it quite well. There is this incredible scene at a graveyard that revolves around five questions and that’s all I’ll say and it’s one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a long time, it was hilarious. Michelle Rodrigues gets a well-choreographed action sequence and Hugh Grant does his thing quite well. An overall win casting wise really.
Overall, ‘Dungeons & Dragons‘ is quite a fun movie, I loved the characters, the lavish production and sets and the surprisingly fantastic action sequences. While the pacing and runtime did drag the film down a bit, I wouldn’t say it ruined the film or tainted it significantly, it’s still very much worth watching. Will I play the game after seeing this movie, absolutely not but that’s not really the intent of this movie and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. I think it’s a movie fans and non-fans alike can unanimously agree on how fun it is to watch.
‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves‘ is in cinemas now.