Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves review – riotously enjoyable fantasy adventure

<span>Photograph: Paramount Pictures and eOne/AP</span>
Photograph: Paramount Pictures and eOne/AP

Well, this is refreshing. Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves is that vanishingly rare entity – a riotously entertaining family-friendly film that hasn’t been painfully squeezed out of a comic-book franchise like the last, forlorn dregs of toothpaste from a long-dead tube. Admittedly, this isn’t the first film to be based on the enduringly popular fantasy role-playing game – Jeremy Irons starred in a critically reviled version in 2000; a made-for-TV sequel and direct-to-DVD third instalment followed. But Honour Among Thieves is more than a reboot – it’s a fleshed-out, multidimensional piece of world-building, with immediately likable characters, plenty of face-crunching, axe-based fight choreography and a running joke about potatoes.

Kudos to John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who co-wrote and co-directed the picture. As a creative partnership, they have experience in reboots – they co-wrote Spider-Man: Homecoming – and board games, having co-directed the comedy thriller Game Night. With this picture, they strike a satisfying balance between character and action, and ensure that the digital effects are in service of the story, rather than the other way around.

It also helps that the film is exceptionally well cast. Chris Pine’s charm has never been more slippery as incorrigible thief Edgin and Michelle Rodriguez brings formidable action chops to Edgin’s partner in crime Holga. Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page bags the best lines and much of the action as Xenk. And then there’s Hugh Grant, whose roguish conman Forge bears more than a passing resemblance to his Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2. But when the film is this much fun, who cares if Grant recycles some of the greatest hits from his gag repertoire?