Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) – Rolls a Dirty 20

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, is a delightful romp through a world of magic, monsters, and adventure. Based on the popular tabletop role-playing game, the film boasts a star-studded cast including Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, and Hugh Grant. The movie perfectly balances humor and engaging storytelling, ensuring laughter never overshadows its emotional core or action sequences.

The plot follows former Harper Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) as he assembles a misfit group of thieves to steal a resurrection tablet and start anew after his wife is killed by a Red Wizard. Together with his trusted friend, barbarian Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez), they recruit a motley crew of adventurers, including amateur sorcerer Simon Aumar (Justice Smith), rogue Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), and druid Doric (Sophia Lillis). Their daring heist into a heavily-guarded vault brings danger and deception at every turn, culminating in an exhilarating finale.

The film’s charm lies in its ability to blend absurdity and humor with an emotional core and character relationships, differentiating it from many other fantasy and action-adventure movies. The cast’s enthusiasm is contagious, and their on-screen chemistry makes it easy to invest in the characters and their evolving relationships. This is likely due to the reports that the first days of work around the film involved the cast sitting down to play a game of DnD with each other, playing as their characters. The sense of familiarity this bred between the inhabited roles is vividly clear on screen and is likely the film’s greatest asset.

Directors Goldstein and Daley skillfully balance humor and sincerity while the action sequences are visually stunning and expertly choreographed. The character development is equally commendable, with each cast member delivering heartfelt and engaging performances.

Hugh Grant’s portrayal of the cunning and ambitious rogue Forge Fitzwilliam is of particular note. His ability to transition between charming and sinister keeps audiences guessing about his true intentions. He isn’t given anything particularly good to work with on the page, but he gets a +2 on charisma checks, so it works out.

Strong performances from the supporting cast, including Daisy Head as villainous Red Wizard Sofina and Chloe Coleman as Edgin’s daughter Kira, enrich the narrative and provide excellent texture for the world. None are given a tremendous amount of screen time, but they come off feeling like real characters anyway, rather than the caricatures the roles could have quickly become. 

A memorable mid-credit scene featuring a corpse begging for one more question to return to death epitomizes the film’s successful blending of humor and absurdity, leaving a lasting impression on audiences.

The world-building and nods to the tabletop game will delight fans while remaining accessible to newcomers. 

The film showcases the storytelling potential of the Dungeons & Dragons universe, with top-notch visual effects fully immersing audiences in the fantastical world of the Forgotten Realms. Cinematographer Barry Peterson does a splendid job of lingering on the beautifully-rendered world for long enough to let audiences take it in without feeling heavy-handed. The magical encounters and spell-rich fights contain an understandably vast amount of CGI, but the effects are pulled off well without making it the focus of any of the scenes.

The humor is a standout feature, with witty banter and comedic timing striking just the right note. The film delivers a genuinely entertaining and often hilarious experience by embracing the source material’s absurdity. The humor is seamlessly integrated into the narrative, enhancing rather than detracting from the story.

Overall, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a rollicking adventure with heart and humor, successfully balancing comedy and storytelling. The talented cast, fully committed to their roles, delivers an engaging and entertaining experience for fantasy, action, and comedy fans alike. This film is a worthy addition to the Dungeons & Dragons franchise and an excellent example of adapting beloved source material into a captivating and enjoyable cinematic experience.

Leave a Reply