As someone who experienced a few D&D sessions here and there, I was interested in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie. I wanted to see if the movie can capture that campy feel when investing into a fantasy world with mates. And to a certain extent, it did.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves follow a ragtag group of thieves which includes professional bard Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), axe-wielding barbarian Holga la Barbare (Michelle Rodriguez), Simon Aumar the sorcerer (Justice Smith), and the cunning rogue Forge Fletcher (Hugh Grant).
After Edgin agrees to a particularly dangerous job in the hope of acquiring an artifact that could resurrect his deceased wife, he and Holga were captured while the rest managed to escape. Two years after being imprisoned, both Edgin and Holga concoct up a plan to escape and return to Edgin’s daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman).
Much to their surprise, Kira wasn’t pleased to see Edgin, thinking that he valued riches over her. And after realising they’ve been betrayed by an old friend, Edgin and Holga recruit friends old and new, such as the sorcerer Simon, the druid Doric (Sophia Lillis), and the paladin Xenk (Rege-Jean Page) to the team.
The group set out to win back Edgin’s daughter’s trust, get the artifact, and protect everyone from Sofina, a Red Wizard of Thay (Daisy Head), who has evil plans for the people of Neverwinter.
In all honesty, the plot for Honor Among Thieves is full of general themes that are easy to predict, but there are some plot twists that did catch me by surprise.
While the group travels around in a fast pace, we still get to see some of the iconic locations in the Forgotten Realms. And while it’s always satisfying to see some of the beloved locations such as Neverwinter and the Underdark be recreated with incredible detail that fans will instantly recognise them, it’s frustrating for us to be thrown from one place to another without much understanding of why it’s happening.
The rushed plot also results in the characters being under-developed because we barely have enough time to get to know them. The character’s backstories feel lackluster and when their moment to shine arrives, I just don’t feel emotionally invested enough to relate to them.
One of the missed opportunities was not exploring Doric’s identity as a Tiefling, who are a race often labelled as outcasts due to demon heritage.
Futhermore, I personally felt the story to be lackluster. It’s about finding family and getting over loss, but it’s all kept as simple as possible to appeal to as many people. Despite this, I still enjoyed the intimate storytelling, especially when the movie succeeds in creating a large-scale world as with Dungeons & Dragons.
The full magical visuals of D&D are all here. Veteran players from all over the world should be familiar with the mythical beasts shown in the movie, and the fact that the CGI is equally impressive also helps a lot. This is especially so with Doric’s design as a Tiefling, along with her owlbear companion.
The movie also makes use of practical effects whenever possible, particularly when it comes to humanoid (or formerly humanoid) characters. From tabaxis, to an aarakocra, yuan-ti, dragonborn, and the animated corpses all appear to have used practical effects; which plays off well and gives the movie that certain charm and authenticity.
There were also many other excellent visuals, especially during the chase and fight scenes with pretty impressive CG. I personally enjoyed the lengthy chase scene involving the Themberchaud, a red dragon who grown fat after eating too much in the Underdark.
Majority of the action scenes are well-crafter and makes the most out of D&D’s uniqueness. The movie shines the brightest when the characters actually get to do D&D things. Like that one scene where Doric escapes from Castle Never using her Wild Shape druid class feature, to the scene where Simon tries to escape from a mob of theater patrons using his Wild Magic. And not to mention the final fight, but that’s treading into spoiler territory.
Another thing I can appreciate is the common usage of D&D terms like Mordenkainen and Attuning. These terms play a major factor in the tabletop game’s identity and serves as a love-letter for veteran fans.
Roll for Performance
Overall, I think the chemistry between the cast is great, from the way our four main heroes interacted with each other, to the close relationship between Edgin’s daughter and Holga.
I also like to bring up Chris Pine’s performance as Edgin. His performance was great I think his witty one-liners and jokes helps remind us that fantasy worlds doesn’t always have to be so dark and serious.
Aside from Pine, I love how he and Michelle Rodriguez make a good pair. Every scene that the two of them are in together always feels like a treat. Pine plays a Bard who doesn’t have much fighting experiences, so he has to frequently rely on Rodriguez, who plays the capable barbarian. Rodriguez also does a convincing job at roughening up the bad guys, given her past experiences in action movies. The fight scenes with her in it are fantastic, and I also enjoy Pine’s comic relief during those scenes.
In terms of supporting cast, Sophia Lilis gives off an air of knowledgeable and mystical charisma throughout the movie. Given her role as a Tiefling, naturally she doesn’t have that much sense about the human world, and she’s also a badass actress.
Justice Smith who plays the sorcerer also strikes the ideal balance between being sweet, funny, and relatable; which I think fits the role of the movie’s straight man and voice of reason when the crew faces danger.
Hugh Grant was also a surprising antagonist. It was unusual for me to see him in such a despicable way since I know him mainly from romance and comedy movies. But I personally think Rege Jean Page absolutely stole the show, even though his appearance is quite brief. He’s the very definition of a paladin, perfectly embodying the role and also plays well as a comedic relief character given how he’s too serious and doesn’t understand when someone is being sarcastic.
Much to my surprise, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a good movie. It’s not perfect, but it’s was fairly enjoyable.
Not to lie, I initially had my doubts because balancing high fantasy comedy based on such a beloved IP can be challenging. But thankfully it succeeded. The movie created some genuinely funny moments with its loveable cast and the fact that it managed to capture some parts of the original D&D world made me very impressed.
My main gripe is that the show doesn’t explore or give a backstory for the main cast, as they paced through the film in such a hurry. D&D is rich with lore and I personally wished that they could’ve jumbled up something in there instead of taking us to some needless scenes.
Regardless, they introduced so many amusing and interesting characters and locations that I would gladly return if they came up with a sequel.
|Loveable cast of characters||Personally wished they explored the character's backstories a bit more|
|Bringing in iconic locations and terms from the tabletop game|
Dungeons & Dragons : Honor Among Thieves movie screening was provided by United International Pictures.