Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves goes all in on charisma. The Chris Pine-led adaption of the pen-and-paper fantasy progenitor is a joke-a-minute campaign of quips, jabs, and cheeky one-liners. The most obvious comparison is the rebooted Jumanji films, which also synergized another nostalgic property with a cast of riffing celebrities. Thankfully, Dungeons rolls more 20s than ones with its jokes, landing with more laughs than groans. The comedy goes beyond snark, with a handful of creative gags including a standout sequence in a graveyard.
Unfortunately, the film’s tunnel vision on humor makes everything else a dump stat. The plot involves Pine and his barbarian partner (Michelle Rodriguez) assembling a team of fantasy misfits to pull off a magical heist. It aims to be high fantasy Ocean’s Eleven (2001), an incredible idea that gets lost in played-out plot beats and a third act that drags like an indecisive dungeon master. References to the wider lore of Dungeons & Dragons are made regularly, but Dungeons fails to build any unique sense of place beyond generic fantasy like, say, The Lord of the Rings. The film has some great editing moments that add a fun layer to its action-heavy scenes, but they’re weighed down by boring at best, baffling at worst visuals.
The action is still great throughout, with a few high points that see Pine and Co. working through an obstacle in a way not too dissimilar to a game party talking through a solution on the tabletop. Like the new Jumanji films, which were a clear influence, Dungeons is a consistently fun time. Pine and Regé-Jean Page, who takes up the sword of the group’s paladin, do a lot of the heavy lifting. None of the cast holds a fireball to Hugh Grant, however, who owns every second of his goofball performance as one of the film’s villains. Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves may be a dice roll in a few ways, but critical hits save it from being skippable. PG-13, 134 min.