‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ review: Does this fantasy adventure finally capture the magic of gaming?

Since its creation in 1974, Dungeons & Dragons it was a haven for fantasy lovers to explore their imaginations by bonding together in quests and battles against monsters and magical menace. For nearly 50 years, the tabletop role-playing game has sparked controversy, forged friendships and influenced hits such as Stranger ThingsGravity Falls, Vox Machinaand Freaks and Geeks. However, when it came to cinema, where a number of less-than-memorable films appeared between 2000 and 2012, no one had captured the magic of the game…until now.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves arrived at Opening Night at SXSW, and it’s the kind of epic fun fans have been waiting for.


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What is Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves about?

Chris Pine leads a star-studded cast as Edgin, a bard who—when he’s not singing sweetly (often as a distraction)—plans a heist with his band of adventurers. His party includes Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), a barbarian whose battle ax is as sharp and damaging as her dry wit. Simon (Justice Smith), a half wizard who has great magical abilities but needs to boost his confidence. Xenk (Bridgerton‘s Regé-Jean Page) a noble Paladin, combining integrity with a sly dash of smugness. and Doric (Sophia Lillis), a Tiefling Druid, whose shape-shifting abilities make for some of the best action sequences in this adventure.

Together, they must confront the self-proclaimed “rogue” Forge (Hugh Grant), a rogue who has teamed up with a menacing red wizard. Sofina (Daisy Head), the menacing red mage in question, has flashy lightning spells, but these take second place to her intense glare. Edgin’s quest is to rescue his teenage daughter (Chloe Coleman), a striking young lady who has fallen prey to Forge and Sofina’s influence. Along the way, this troupe will encounter powerful monsters, strange creatures, and some quirky cameos that are too weird to spill here.

What is he doing Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves are you right about D&D?

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Fans of the game will be thrilled to see how co-writers/directors John Francis Daley (of Freaks and Geeks fame) and Jonathan Goldstein brought to life Monster Manual creatures such as the Displacer Beast, a ferocious Owlbear, a “sneaky” but deadly Red Dragon, and even the comically dangerous Gelatinous Cube. Staying true to the joy of the game experience itself, the filmmakers made sure to keep the details of these designs intimate while allowing the animation to have an amazing bounce to its gravity.

Throughout the film, there are moments of life or death stakes and even jarring jump scares. But that bounce, that sense of play, helps keep things light and fun so that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves can be enjoyed by both adults and children. Inclusivity is an important element of the film, welcoming all kinds of fantasy fans, whether they’ve played D&D or not. If you have, you’ll likely shout and cheer as you recognize specific spells, items, and creatures. If you’re a level nothing in this world, the script — by Daley, Goldstein and Michael Gilio — quickly gives enough context that you won’t miss the fun.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves it has awesome action sequences.

A dragon is ready to attack three adventurers

Credit: Paramount Pictures

It’s better, right? It’s not just that this film is pitted against a myriad of fantasy films (some of which the source material is less than inspired), it’s that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves it also tackles the countless action sequences its players have been imagining in their heads for decades. Dungeon Masters may differ, but Daley and Goldstein do a spectacular job of weaving in melee, spellcasting, and banter.

There’s fire, swordplay, shape-shifting and inventive stunts. And within each setting, there is refreshing variety. Some encounters are hard action, with Fast and Furious The Rodriguez alum’s Barbarian delivers exactly the kind of grit and hood you’d expect from such casting. Other sequences have an incredible whimsy, with a transformative escape scene that has the energy of Pixar Ratatouille. However, other sequences distort the terrors with ominous swirls of dark magic and tearful confessions. Tonally, the film shifts from comic to exciting to tender and back again with ease. And honestly, these turns are necessary to portray the essence of the game.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves captures the game at the heart of D&D.

Regé-Jean Page in

Credit: Paramount Pictures

These shifts in tone are triggered by the conflict between characters who have very different attitudes (and alignments(Opens in a new tab)). This team dynamic not only makes the sparks fly in the film, but also reflects the fun of playing characters among friends. The barbs between bard and barbarian have a brotherly sharpness. The villain’s soliloquy rebukes delightful display. The awkward romance between two party members reflects the turmoil of a player character whose heart is pure but whose charisma is low-rolling. Nouns, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves it’s genuinely fun to play because of how it embraces the complications and comedy of a big team dynamic. And props to the cast for that.

From Star Trek (2009), Pine has straddled the line between goofy and generous with the agility of an acrobat. Here, he gets to play the ballad-smashing fool in one scene and then the serious hero in the next. Rodriguez is his foil, straight-faced but wild, where he’s crazy and goofy, punching her as hard as she punches her -well- punches. Smith is intensely awkward, bringing humor and heart, while Lillis delivers a stoic but compelling performance as a wounded misfit seeking revenge. Meanwhile, Page practically shines in Lawful Good, yet brings a sly swagger to a role that could have grown stale in the wrong hands.

In contrast to this jovial band, Head is legitimately terrifying as a witch with war on her mind. She fully throws her body into spells and facial expressions that might be over the top in a straighter fantasy. Here, however, they make her the perfect antithesis to Grant’s rude rogue, who is an unrepentant scene-stealer — above all other kinds of thief.

Grant lives it up as a comically compelling villain in movies like Paddington 2, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerreand now Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. And he is an international treasure for his service.

Hugh Grant

Credit: Paramount Pictures

In a film full of funny moments, Grant scores the most, thanks in part to his roguish smile, mature and beguiling. As he threatens execution and delivers outlandish compliments with the same bon vivant, there is a pleasure in his performance that is positively infectious. “Unintelligible but professor,” he chirps at Edgin’s appearance, “You look like a well-read fisherman!” He’s such a high-level charmer that you might be tempted to root for him despite the villainy.

A great choice for SXSWopening night, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves it’s a crazy crowd, full of action, comedy and spectacle. Its filmmakers deftly balance the tones and character arcs to give everyone their hero moment, yet never get bogged down by the weight of so much history, lore, and legacy. This is an unforgiving adventure, sure to be enjoyed by D&D devotees and newcomers alike. Simply put, this movie is one hell of a ride you won’t want to miss.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves revised from its World Premiere at SXSW 2023. opens in theaters nationwide on March 31.

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