Magic & laughs and Pine & Rodriguez-all wacky & entertaining.
Whether you hated the Marlon Wayans/Jeremy Irons version from 2000, or are a diehard fan of the board games, or if you’ve never even played the game, or if you learned about Gary Gygax’s name on a “Futurama” guest appearance, you’re sure to get a kick out of “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” It’s an action adventure fantasy that has a sense of humor, the kind of you removed the rock n roll soundtrack out of “A Knight’s Tale” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s entertainingly funny in those senses, and also goodhearted in its main characters.
Am I guy to talk to about the “Dungeons & Dragons” game or any of its mythical creatures. No, so don’t even ask me about them. And honestly, half the time, I can’t understand their magic words, which would leave me uninterested. If that’s a problem for me, then why did I enjoy this new version? Because I have a sense of humor, I like big names like Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant in the mix, and I like the fact that filmmakers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein have both improved on the directing skills. They first directed the horrible “Vacation,” then the funny “Game Night,” and now they bring their sense of humor and vulnerabilities in a fantasy world.
Pine plays a bard named Elgin Darvis, while Rodriguez plays a barbarian named Holga Kilborne, who both turn to a life of thievery in order to help provide for Elgin’s daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman). They even formed a team of conmen, which also consisted of the amateur sorcerer Simon Aumar (Justice Smith) and the charismatic Forge Fitzwilliams (Grant). Their team gets broken up when the search for a magic relic goes horribly wrong.
Forge has become a wealthy Lord, who convinces Kira her father was greedy, and is in association with the mysterious Sofina (Daisy Head), whom he doesn’t know is a Red Wizard with bigger plans than him.
This is when they decide to go full “Ocean’s Eleven” on him, by reuniting with Simon, and collaborating with a young shapeshifter named Doric (Sophia Lillas from “It”) and a holy knight (paladin) named Xenk Yendar (Rege-Jean Page). I’m not sure if I got their kind right, but remember I’m no “D&D” expert.
Maybe think of Elgin as Danny Ocean or Forge as Willy Bank or even Kira as Tess. I know Tess was the ex-wife, but it kind of feels similar to me. They both kind of resent their loving thieves for their choices.
From time to time in “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” there’s some amazing special effects-some of them involving sand or rocks. From time to time, there’s some “D&D” writing that people unfamiliar with the stories and games won’t understand. And most of the way through, you get a lot of laughs, a lot of action, and a lot of rules that are meant to be broken.
I met Rodriguez at a Q&A for “Widows,” and she spoke wisely about expanding her horizons as an actress. In this movie, she knows how to be funny and tough as nails, and manages to connect well with Pine, who can talk the talk and walk the walk. Among others, Grant is also charming as the backstabber, and Page is deadpan with him not caring about expressions or sarcasms.
And one more thing. Daley and Goldstein reunite with Pine after they co-wrote the screenplay for “Horrible Bosses 2,” and we should be thankful they didn’t make him bash his face on a table this time. This “D&D” Pine is the character they should be writing for him.
In Theaters Next Week