Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves – Movie Review

Posted by Eddie Pasa on March 29, 2023 in / No Comments

 

MPA Rating: PG-13 for fantasy action/violence and some language. Contains a mid-credits scene. Running time: 134 minutes Released by Paramount Pictures.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Paramount Pictures, Entertainment OnePlease note: I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Dungeons & Dragons beyond what I’ve read in a Players Handbook I had lying around in hopes of joining a game, but I didn’t know many people who played. I maybe spent one weekend at a friend’s house playing Warhammer 40K, and there were no clubs at my high school to join (yes, it is entirely possible that I wasn’t cool enough to join). You won’t hear anything like “this film rolls a natural 20” or similar references in this review; consider this the ultimate outsider’s take on how this film communicates to people beyond those familiar with D&D.

So, of course, who better to capture the essence of this storied role-playing game and infuse it with modern hijinks than Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the writing/directing team also responsible for 2018’s surprise smash Game Night? Goldstein and Daley kick the outstanding Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves into high gear with aplomb and contagious enthusiasm, cobbling together an enjoyable concoction of heroic adventure, gaming smarts, and the alternating wonder and horror of the game itself. It extends its hand with cheer and asks you to jump into the middle of a rousing story of redemption and magic, heroes and villains, and the kind of escapades that could only exist in this fantasy world.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Paramount Pictures, Entertainment OneWith vistas of Ireland and Iceland doubling for lands only before seen in our imaginations, we’re whisked into the ancient struggle of good versus evil, but with a serious irreverent streak. The only two people good at what they’re meant to be doing are barbarian warrior Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) and Red Wizard Sofina (Daisy Head); the rest are varying states of comedically inept or made disadvantageous by not possessing magic skills. But it’s not about skills, although they definitely help; it’s about the faith your team has in you and how you return that faith… to the best of your abilities, which – in Edgin’s (Chris Pine) case and for some of his squad – might not be a whole lot.

What matters is that you make good on your word and follow through, an ideal Edgin’s spent his life trying to live up to, first as a Harper, second as an outlaw. Even in trying to make life better for him and his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman), he’s doing the best he can as a widowed father. But betrayals have a way of throwing an unwanted wrench into your plans, and Sofina’s just thrown the mother of all wrenches into his hopes for resurrecting his wife, landing him and Holga in prison. After a grand escape, he has to set everything right again, which involves getting Kira back from his friend Forge (Hugh Grant), who – in league with Sofina herself – has other plans that expressly do not involve Edgin, dead or alive.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Paramount Pictures, Entertainment OneThe ersatz family Edgin assembles to challenge Forge and Sofina and rescue Kira is just as much of a mismatch for him as Holga is. Burgeoning sorcerer Simon (Justice Smith) doesn’t have confidence in his nascent powers, and tiefling druid Doric (Sophia Lillis) doesn’t trust humans like Elgin and Holga. She joins the fight in the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” vein, considering the fate of her village at the hands of Forge, having scummed his way into lordship and exterminated anyone standing against him. This foursome embarks on a quest for treasures aiding them in their endeavor, giving us and them time to learn about their capabilities and the roles they must fulfill to succeed.

Goldstein and Daley’s script (from earlier script/story work by Michael Gilio and Chris McKay) and direction land Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves in a space where noobs and lifelong players can have fun. The plot is familiar enough to follow, while little details and references are laid in for more hardcore audiences. But what makes the film stand out is the dashing, effervescent interplay between Pine, Rodriguez, Smith, and Lillis, each carving identifiable and affable characters we enjoy being with on this adventure. There’s a loose camaraderie shared among these four that propels the movie past expectations and into our hearts, and that’s all you really need to know. You don’t need to be D&D inventors Gary Gygax or Dave Arneson (RIP and thanks, gentlemen) to reap terrific rewards out of the film, and that’s the way they would’ve wanted it.

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Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on 4k or Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.

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