Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is the movie all D&D fans have been waiting for. It gracefully embodies all the comedy, chaos, and charisma of a traditional D&D game, leaving fans enthralled, but forces an element of confusion for those new to the tabletop game.
Directed and written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, it’s clear that this is a film for D&D fans, made by D&D fans. It encompasses all the thrills, hilarious spills, and mesmerizing kills sprinkled throughout this tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) while still creating a touching story of love, loss, and friendship.
However, throughout the lore-filled 134 minutes, viewers who aren’t privy to the enrapturing nature of the tabletop D&D may often be left confused, wondering why such an event was occurring or why such a villain was so scary.
Nevertheless, through talks of necromancy, friendship, love, betrayal, and deception, we experience a film that finally lives up to the Dungeons and Dragons name, allowing all fans and players alike to experience the world inside their heads on the big screen.
A traditional home D&D game on the big screen
Filled with badass characters, awesome magic, and deadly weapons, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves rejects the tropes from its overly serious predecessors, dredging through the hesitant expectations and creating something wholly unique, hilarious, and undeniably reminiscent of all the D&D games played at homes around the world.
With laugh-out-loud moments prompted by some clear natural 1s and the implication of the often indescribable limitations of magic, this film was able to truly transport you into a world between your mind and the screen, allowing new or veteran players the chance to truly feel like part of the action.
Ultimately, thanks to the comedy, realistic recognition regarding its inspiration, and a humble inlay of meaningful lore, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves manages to do what all other D&D films failed at – they managed to create a D&D movie for D&D fans made by D&D players.
A rounded party with the bard at the center
As it typically goes with most D&D campaigns, the story is centered around more than one person, often jumping between each player when the story sees fit. Unfortunately, while introducing a hilarious Guardians of the Galaxy-style party, Honor Among Thieves failed to land that collaborative punch it needed.
The movie primarily centers around Edgin (Chris Pine’s Bard character) on his quest for love, redemption, and a little revenge. Naturally, since his arc drives the story, he is often the center of attention throughout, with the story only dipping into Holga, Simon, and Doric’s lives when absolutely necessary.
It certainly dulls the punch of certain emotional scenes when the audience isn’t emotionally connected to the character in focus at the time, and we found ourselves struggling to care for some of the party’s issues with self-doubt, lost love, and mistrust.
This is especially true with the lack of power displayed in the characters. With their own classes, such as Druid, Sorcerer, Bard, and Barbarian, we had the potential to truly see the power within each. Unfortunately, Doric only explored her Wild Shape, rather than the plethora of spells she has access to, Holga rarely uses her bloodthirsty rage which is a favorite among Barbarians, and Simon only really displays his lack of power, rather than the hilarious implication of his Wild Magic.
Ultimately, with Edgin at the forefront, it felt that we were missing that punch of a combined party, each with their own talents.
Epic battles often felt… less than epic
One of the most anticipated elements of Dungeons & Dragons is the combat. Players typically revel in well-described attacks against the enemy, with many never forgetting the first time they felled the villain they’ve been trying to fight for weeks on end.
Ultimately, Honor Among Thieves failed to truly hit the mark with such battles. Often they either felt too rushed or too slow, with none of the group really honing their powers to the full extent. That combined with a few questionable green-screen effects often took us away from the story at play, and made us wish the battles were a little more choreographed.
Although, such desires were undeniably resolved as we neared the conclusion of the story, with incredibly satisfying battles and a true homage to the collaborative combat every party hopes to have in their own D&D game.
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Technicalities eliminated for the story
It’s no secret that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a movie made for D&D fans. The story and world are sprinkled with classic regions like Baldur’s Gate, and Neverwinter, and contains all the mystical races many adore playing. However, some rules set in place within the tabletop RPG were disregarded in place for a comprehensible and enjoyable storyline.
Certain fighting styles from certain dragons left us a little disappointed, with our hopes of an intense dragon battle quickly dashed in what was a disappointingly short but tense few scenes.
Thankfully, frustrations about dragons aside, the rest of the eliminated technicalities felt extremely forgivable, with it being completely understandable as to why the party behaved as they did around the gelatinous cube rather than extending the scene any longer.
A focus on comedy slowed the flow
Along with the alteration in rules and regulations, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves felt like it had a jam-packed storyline, filled with multiple locations, tons of characters, and a variety of events, many of which either felt too rushed, or too slow.
Often, after a few laughs from some ongoing jokes, we found ourselves rolling our eyes after it had now been told too many times, with one scene acting as almost a 15-minute gag causing the beats to slow and the story to occasionally falter.
On the other hand, certain elements felt far too rushed. We wanted to see more of the Highland games as it was often placed on a pedestal through the trailers and felt like a truly integral part of the movie. Instead, it felt like a missed opportunity for greatness and a chance to truly see the group and others shine.
Fantastic for D&D fans, confusing for others
With the small issues in pacing, the focus on one character, and the occasional bypass of traditional D&D rules out of the way, we were able to truly embrace how wonderful the world was within this film. It was rich with D&D lore and complete with more recognizable races, regions, and spells than we could count.
Each minute was filled with awe of the world inside our heads being placed onto the screen, with every unique race and element of lore being expertly placed into a pre-established world.
Ultimately, it truly feels like Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves almost perfectly encapsulated a cross between the ever-popular tabletop RPG and an expertly made film.
The only negative to the primary focus on the game’s lore is how confusing that was for those who have yet to experience D&D for themselves. Luckily, with almost a Stranger Things-esque villain and a focus on attempting to subtly explain elements of the story to the viewer, everyone was able to leave having enjoyed the story and world that so enveloped this experience.
Sure, someone outside of D&D may have found certain elements confusing with many of the smaller plotlines being harder to follow, but for a movie made for D&D fans, it certainly doesn’t miss the mark.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves final score – 4/5
Despite its occasional pacing flaws and missed opportunities, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a thrilling and hilarious joyride from start to finish. It perfectly encapsulates the vibe and chaotic nature of the tabletop game and, while often confusing for those new to the game, truly feels like the D&D movie every fan hoped for.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves hits cinemas on March 31, 2023. Check out our other D&D content here.