'Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves' Rolls the Dice and Deals a Critical Hit

Directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley

Starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, Hugh Grant

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures / eOne.

BY Tobias JegPublished Mar 31, 2023

Dungeons? Yes. Dragons? Also yes! In fact, this movie has something for everyone, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but they finally made a quality D&D film. RPG veterans like me know that previous attempts to bring Dungeons & Dragons to the big screen have been a critical miss. It's confounding, really. Decades of thrilling adventure and fantasy tales, but nothing worthy of a good script? That's all behind us now, and we have to collectively tip our hats to Paramount Pictures and filmmakers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (duo behind the beloved Game Night) for making a movie that is perfectly fun.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is far less serious than The Lord of the Rings and more akin to sword-swingin' classics like The Princess Bride or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's a well-paced action romp, as the heroes are up against some convincing villains (the murderous Red Wizards) and go from one quest to the next, seeking both plunder and justice.

Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) and Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) lead our group of protagonists in a quest that begins with a jailbreak as viewers learn about the history and hardships surrounding the characters, including Simon Aumar (Justice Smith) and Doric (Sophia Lillis), and we're immediately invested in their path to redemption. Multiple amusing capers take us throughout the Sword Coast as they form their haphazard adventuring party and ultimately hatch a plan to rescue a castle-bound maiden and recover an artifact that will restore life to a fallen comrade.

It's a snappy storyline, not dissimilar to a video game or, dare I say, an actual D&D adventure you'd experience while playing the tabletop game. And to that point, the creators have done a terrific job throwing a lot of red meat at old-school gamers (we refer to ourselves as "grognards"), while still delivering a product that will appeal to mainstream audiences. This is just plain better than most Marvel outings, D&D deserves bonus Experience Points for creating an original story with original characters.

For a popcorn-munching creature feature, Honor Among Thieves has some proficient acting as well. Bradley Cooper's cameo is hilarious, and Hugh Grant almost steals the show as the rakish swindler, Forge Fitzwilliam, only to be outperformed by the excellent ensemble cast of heroes. The quartet of protagonists are so likable they'll have audiences calling for a rare thing: a deserved sequel and continuation of the franchise.

The CGI could be better and the relentless mirth recalls the class-clown antics of Deadpool, but it never takes away from the overall fun and excitement. Several A-list names rolled the dice on this venerable fantasy brand, and it's a relief to see it magically clicked for this team.

"Based on Hasbro's Dungeons & Dragons" is credited at the end of Honor Among Thieves — but the truth is, D&D belongs to co-creators Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax along with world-builders Ed Greenwood and Bob Salvatore. This film honours those legendary creators with its themes of triumph and camaraderie, and the movie does well to capture the joy that is the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
(Paramount Pictures)

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