Going into Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, I was worried that my limited knowledge of the legendary franchise, coupled with trailers that left me feeling equally unsure, would dampen my enjoyment during its 2h 14m runtime. I’m happy to report that even as someone who has only experienced D&D through a few sessions of Baldur’s Gate and a single sitdown session of the tabletop game proper, Dungeons & Dragons (2023) is a fantastic film that caters to everyone.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ story follows the exploits of Edgin (Chris Pine), a charismatic thief turned single father set on a quest to rescue his young daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman). The film opens with Chris Pine’s character explaining to a prison council his reason for repentance while also giving audiences a quick primer into his past. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves uses this deliberate form of exposition-dumping for most of its main cast, which captures the essence of what a real-world player may do when setting up and retelling their characters’ backstory during a game of D&D.
From here, the audience learns of how Edgin and his trusty partner-in-crime, Holga (Michelle Rodiguez), winded up in prison, which boils down to a botched robbery in no small part due to the introduction of a new and mysterious party member named Sofina (Daisy Head). Unfortunately, despite leaving prison in one piece, the two heroes quickly become embroiled in trouble, resulting in Edgin and Holga being tasked with breaking into the central city’s keep in hopes of mending Edgin’s relationship with his daughter and potentially greater threats that loom over the horizon.
“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves feels like a welcome breath of fresh air…”
With the threat of the Red Wizards of Thay encroaching on the city and Kira, naturally, Edgin and Holga must amass a party capable of saving the day. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves wastes no time introducing audiences to the rest of its leading ensemble, including Simon the Mage (Justice Smith) and Doric, a Tiefling shapeshifting Druid (Sophia Lillis), which complement Pine’s portrayal as a Bard and Rodriguez’s Barbarian/Amazonian class nicely.
The classic approach of misfits banding together works well in Dungeons & Dragons by echoing the real-world feeling of playing with old and new faces that must make do with what they have. Another real-world element found in D&D and just general camaraderie, which the film masterfully includes, lies in its humour. I wasn’t expecting to laugh as much as I did while watching Dungeons & Dragons.
Still, somehow, the film manages to crack jokes consistently (often at the expense of its heroes) while never cheapening or diminishing the high fantasy stakes at play. In other words, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves feels like a welcome breath of fresh air in an overly serious deluge of fantastical adaptations.
Another area in which Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves excels is its portrayal of spur-of-the-moment planning and executions, something that not only often results in comedic payoffs but captures the essence of rolling the dice that feels organic.
With such a storied and expansive pool of material to pull from, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves does a good enough job of creating a believable sense of place, densely packed with detail and references that fans of the series will surely appreciate. Unfortunately, outside of great practical effects, some of the CGI sometimes feels a bit off, particularly when characters are standing against large and expansive environments. Thankfully, by and large, Dungeons & Dragons is a good-looking movie, on par with your Marvels and DCs of the world.
If there is one area in which Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves suffers, it is in its later half, which feels a bit predictable and routine, more akin to a Saturday morning cartoon than a game of D&D. Although, those serious about D&D may find Dungeon & Dragon’s conformity to be welcome as it manages to satisfyingly tell a complete story in a short amount of time, something that often cannot be said about its tabletop inspiration.