What do you get when you combine a series of characters with next to nothing in common, a healthy dash of tragic backstories, and a quest that started as a personal vendetta that evolves into foiling a doomsday plot? A Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves sets out to take a game that players have been sharing in various forms for almost half a century and translate it to the big screen (a feat that hasn't been particularly well received in the past).
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, who most recently worked on Game Night together. With a screenplay co-written by Michael Gilio and a story written by Chris McKay and Michael Gilio. Fans of Goldstein and Daley's previous works, featuring snappy plots and plenty of laughs, will already know what to expect to a certain extent coming into Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves but with a high-fantasy spin.
Chris Pine leads the party as Edgin the Bard, a widowed former spy turned thief. After the loss of his wife Pine pairs up with Michelle Rodriguez's Holga the Barbarian to turn to a life of crime to support his young daughter. After adding Simon the Sorcerer (Justice Smith) and Forge the Rogue (Hugh Grant) to the party their last caper goes awry leaving Edgin and Holga locked away for "grand larceny and skullduggery." Edgin and Holga's friendship on screen, even with deep personality differences, immediately leaps out of the screen. Their symbiotic relationship is apparent from your first encounter and onscreen buddy chemistry always manages to land.
Breaking out two years later Edgin and Holga learn that Forge has turned against them, poisoned Edgin's daughter to them, and is willing to use his newfound political power as the Open Lord of Neverdeep to steal from the rich and ensure his life of luxury continues. Trying to take Forge down a peg and win back his daughter Edgin and Holga reunite with old friends and new ones, in Doric the Druid (Sophia Lillis) and Xenk Yendar the Paladin (Rege-Jean Page). Honor Among Thieves is a classic tale of a lovable band of misfits getting together to complete a job. With family as a central theme, like many true D&D campaigns, we get to see these characters work together to create new strengths or cover each other's weaknesses.
Honor Among Thieves works quickly to set up the primary characters, their backstories, and motivation in the first half-hour of the movie's two-hour and 15-minute runtime. This leaves plenty of time for continued development as new characters are introduced and for the greater plot to unfold.
The plot maintains a quick pace throughout, just when you start getting familiar with a location or objective the party is ready to move to the next one. For a fan of the tabletop game the constant story beats, each objective waiting just around the corner, mimics the beats of a campaign adventure without as much of the player interaction and analysis paralysis of what fight might be on the other side of a locked door (assuming they're able to make it through the door…)
A fan of Dungeons & Dragons will find the movie littered with references including the obvious references to important people and places as well as deeper cuts like the presence of the party from the 80s Dungeons & Dragons animated show. It's in this understanding of the source material that the movie gets a lot of it's natural laughs. Joking about arbitrary spell rules, plans going awry as a magical effect goes awry, or the inherent comedy of each character class archetype. These references might enhance the experience of viewers who also play the game, but each joke still firmly lands for someone after a high-fantasy adventure.
Honor Among Thieves does an incredible job bringing the world of Dungeons & Dragons to life. Set along the Sword Coast we're shown barren frozen tundras and bustling city metropolis filled with a number of different races. While there were a few moments of odd green screen shenanigans, the rest of the special effects were on point, especially when involving some of the stranger creatures of the D&D world like the Displacer Beasts and Intellect Devourers.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | Final Thoughts
As a fan of Dungeons & Dragons, I had an incredible time watching this movie. Even if I had not been I still feel like with the snappy story pacing, beautiful fantasy world, and the movie's jokes landing so perfectly and so consistently that I would still have been left laughing out loud in my seat. The directors and screenwriters demonstrate not only their understanding of what makes Dungeons & Dragons the most popular TTRPG around but also what a high-fantasy adventure movie about found family and magical MacGuffins should be. If you're a fan of fantasy films you should definitely carve out some time to go and see this on the big screen.
We don't have any precedence for rating movies here at TechRaptor but I'd give Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves an 18 on a D20.
This review was created after a viewing of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves that the reviewer paid for.