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Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
scr Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio
prd Brian Goldner, Jeremy Latcham, Nick Meyer
with Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Rege-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, Georgia Landers, Spencer Wilding, Will Irvine, Bradley Cooper
release US/UK 31.Mar.23
23/US Paramount 2h14
Is it streaming?
It seems like ages since a big studio blockbuster was as much fun as this action-fantasy romp. By never taking anything too seriously, filmmakers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley bring the audience in on the joke while evoking the spirit of the classic The Princess Bride. And even while it's relentlessly silly, and sometimes flat-out absurd, there's a warmly beating heart in here that grabs the viewer's affection.
Escaping from prison after a couple of years, hapless rogue Edgin (Pine) and his fearsome sidekick Holga (Rodriguez) set out to reunite with Edgin's daughter Kira (Coleman) and their cohorts: inept sorcerer Simon (Smith) and flamboyant con-artist Forge (Grant). But Forge has lied to Kira about Edgin and is now ruling over a kingdom with the evil wizard Sofina (Head). To rescue Kira from Forge, Edgin, Simon and Holga team up with shapeshifter Doric (Lillis) and visit the Underdark with the help of irony-feee hero Xenk (Page). But everyone is underestimating Sofina's sinister plan.
Bright-hued and detailed, the filmmakers have made an extra effort to create fantastically vivid settings, and they also remember to let the witty tone ripple right through the special effects work. Creatures are outlandish, often both funny and scary at the same time, and all of the imagery knowingly plays into the character-building and storytelling, with the plot structured as a series of knowingly ludicrous quests. Meanwhile, the dialog is unusually snappy, packed with sarcastic touches that keep us chuckling.
To match the comical tone, the performances are fairly broad, but each character is quirky enough to spring loveably to life. Pine oozes charm in the lead role, giving Edgin a whiff of endearing haplessness, which he's fully aware of. Adding edge to her wry wit, Rodriguez shines in a comedy role. Page and Smith are hugely likeable in fairly ridiculous roles, while Lillis and Coleman have their moments as somewhat underwritten women. And of course, Grant steals the show shamelessly.
Aside from the whole find-your-tribe theme, there's not too much going on under the surface. But that's not really a problem when the message is so affirming, and the surface is so continuously amusing. Goldstein and Daley assemble this with a terrific blend of outright silliness, raucous action mayhem and warm-hearted interaction as the story leaps nimbly from one colourfully well-realised location to the next, augmented by eye-popping magical nuttiness. It's impossible to leave the cinema without a smile.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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