Dungeons & Dragons is a property that has captivated fans for many decades, which lets players let their imaginations run wild as they live out their fantasies of becoming a hero and going on a grand adventure. The franchise has been ripe for other mediums outside of the property with Hollywood going through numerous attempts with no luck in capitalizing on the popular board game. This time, the industry is taking another stab at it with its latest film Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which follows the formulas of superhero films with a light and fun take on the source material. Surprisingly, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has enough charm to be an enjoyable time at the theater filled with quirky characters and an easy premise to follow for those who aren’t familiar with D&D.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves follows a band of characters from different backgrounds working together on a quest, which sums up a typical D&D session. Edwin Darvis (Chris Pine) and Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) recruit a team that includes a half-elven wizard (Justice Smith) and a druid (Sophia Lillis) to rescue Edwin’s daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) from the hands of their former teammate Forge (Hugh Grant) who has allied with a dark wizard named Sofina (Daisy Head). This ragtag team goes on a dangerous adventure going through dungeons, dragons, and other obstacles like a D&D game. Along the way, they also get some help from a paladin (Rege-Jean Page) on their journey. The film goes into the backstory of all these characters as they all have something against the villainous Forge as they go from thieves to heroes.
Honor Among Thieves takes place in the Forgotten Realms, a fantasy world that is a campaign setting in Dungeons & Dragons. The popular setting is inspired by Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings series, where humans reside with other fantastical creatures like elves, dwarves, and other races. The world is also full of magicians, a common fixture in the Forgotten Realms. The film takes inspiration from this setting from novels and other pieces of work taking place in this campaign. Directing duo Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley take advantage of every corner of the board game to create an original story that puts audiences in the middle of a big campaign. This unique take on the popular game, helps everyone dive deep into the world without getting lost in it the rules and makes it more approachable to newbies.
The movie is foremost a heist film in a fantasy setting, which is a different approach to storytelling in this type of genre. It has Edgin forming a team, creating the plan, and breaking into a magical vault filled with treasure. The way the film executes this heist is very creative and entertaining. The film doesn’t go for epic battles, but it does offer a tight story filled with action and adventure to keep everyone invested in what’s happening on-screen with these wacky characters. There’s plenty of danger lurking around every corner, but it’s fun to see what’s going on as the stakes are raised, but to a minimum to keep up with the even pacing.
Speaking of characters, the cast all bring something to the table that makes them stand out in the movie. Chris Pine has some great comedic timing as his character who is no warrior but just a bard with a plan. Michelle Rodriguez shows off some amazing fight choreography and plays it straight as her tough-as-nails character. Justice Smith also gets some fun lines as a bumbling wizard who is struggling to realize his full potential. Even Hugh Grant has hilarious moments in his scenes playing the dastardly villain. The most surprising character out of the bunch who takes the spotlight is Rege-Jean Page’s paladin who doesn’t understand sarcasm and says things like it is, making for some laughable scenes with him.
The movie is far from perfect, but it tries not to aim to be flawless. Some of the visual effects aren’t top-notch, and it looks like the mostly green screen has been used. However, there is some usage of practical effects for the creatures that work wonders for the film. It feels like how fantasy films were made back then when costumes and heavy makeup could create some of the most beautiful and marvelous fantastical creatures to help them come to life. Even the main villain Sofina can come off as one-dimensional and nothing too special.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves offers audiences a well-made fantasy heist film with comedy and action that blends most unexpectedly. Each character has their charm and wit, giving us a lot to like about this team of thieves-turned-heroes. The chemistry with the cast is fantastic, with plenty of humor, and some fun action. There is a lot that can be done to expand on this world, but Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is off to a great start for a possible franchise to grow. As fantasy genre fare can go big budget and go for a serious tone, it is great to see films like this go on the lighter side and make it more fun for audiences no matter what age they are.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves releases in theaters on March 31st, 2023.