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For far too long, real fantasy been rather absent from the blockbuster platform. Sure we have had variations, but they are often mixed with something else now, often superheroes. Google ‘Fantasy films’ and you’ll likely be questioning a fair few results that pop up, as we really feel the lack of anything near a The Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter right now. However, this latest roll of the dice has not only paid off but, if there is any justice, Dungeons and Dragons Honour Among Thieves deserves to spawn, finally, the next big fantasy franchise.
Taking the role playing game sensation, at a point when its place in popular culture is cooler than it has been before (thanks in no small part to Stranger Things), and doing something darn impressive with it. Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley‘s Honour Among Thieves sees Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) and Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) escape from prison in order to atone for a past mistake on a theft job, but to fight a dark evil that is slowly taking hold of Neverwinter, they will need to assemble a skilled – or at least ambitious – team to take on this mighty challenge.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves has to be a current frontrunner as the biggest shock of 2023. As someone who knows next to nothing about the role playing games themselves on which all this impressive and endless lore is based, I absolutely loved it, and have spoken to people who know this stuff like the back of their hand, and they shared that same opinion.
The action is fantastic, the creatures fantastically realised on the silver screen and the brimming magical imagination is clear to see, but this film gets something far harder than the visual power right. As it manages to balance fun and humour, without veering into full on mockery. It loves everything it brings to the table, and you will feel that same affection.
Its central characters make for absolutely wonderful company, with terrific performances all round from the likes of Pine and Rodriguez, as well as some incredible supporting work from Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis and Regé-Jean Page. This group of heroes are diverse, unique and all special, and their skills integral to a fun and exciting story.
While Hugh Grant continues the new career direction he has been on, in simply doing anything he wants, and once again delivers a hilarious and caddish performance. And that’s another thing, finally, we have a blockbuster with proper villains! Be they Daisy Head’s imposing Red Wizard Sofina, a shadowy Palpatine-esque threat who is teased, or Grant’s scene stealing morally dubious rogue-turned-Lord!
This is a script filled with delights, not just filled because of its energetic fantasy heist caper, easter egg surprises and questing thrills, but moreover the rather staggeringly emotional core to its story. A story of failure, progression and what it is to lose a family but also find one, and these themes only further enrich what is an absolute fantasy treat you must not miss, and which I hope we see continue in some way.
I loved it, and – I say it again – I think you will too. A hell of a card, well played!