By Bob Grimm
You don’t have to be a committed fantasy-game fan to get a kick out of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, a modestly entertaining, decent-enough adventure story that is relatively safe family viewing for those of us inexperienced with the role-playing game.
I tried to play the game sometime back in junior high. Some friends invited me into their basement; there was a lot of potato chips and root beer, and dudes yelling at each other over strategies. I remember rolling dice or whatever and getting told multiple times that I had lost to one type of beast or another. It bored me, and I returned to my own living room to play my Atari. (This was a long time ago.)
There have been previous attempts to launch a film franchise based on the game, but none have been very successful. This effort works thanks to a breezy, comical approach, with Chris Pine heading a small team of thieves as they face off with various beasts (some quite chubby), interrogate corpses (hilarious) and cast spells.
Directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley offer plenty of nods to the game that will go right over many viewers’ heads, but it’s all done in a way that won’t make anyone feel left out or uninformed. The final sequence involving a large maze will probably have D&D enthusiasts screaming with ecstasy, while those who never played will simply find it really neat.
Pine gets his best role since Capt. Kirk here, and he embraces it with gusto. The supporting cast members, including Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant and Sophia Lillis, all make fun contributions.
The film had a decent box-office haul during its opening week, but it needs to have major legs to recoup its $150 million budget. I would like to see further adventures for Pine and crew, but there’s no word on a potential sequel yet, although the directors seem to be game.