Escapism is a cinematic pleasure that very few films can claim to have delivered. Possibly the most recent film, Top Gun Maverick, was universally loved for its escapism. Many will try and fail, but Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, pardon the phrase, has honour in trying.
Some of you might be wondering why, after 50 years of tabletop fantasy role-playing gaming, it has taken Dungeons & Dragons so long to make it to the big screen. Hollywood’s walk of shame began back in 2000 with a cheap, badly made, overall terrible film starring Marlon Wayans, Thora Birch, and Jeremy Irons. Everyone deserves a second chance, but Dungeons & Dragons had three other films that also passed without much notice.
Why did the new version take so long to arrive, especially after its popularity in Netflix‘s Stranger Things? Nostalgia is a big seller in the cinematic universe, as are prequels, sequels, and reboots. The series has exposed us to the popular culture of previous generations that we love. Whether D&D’s popularity will be revitalized thanks to this film or if it will remain a game for nerds is still up in the air. The film’s co-directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, know a thing or two about gaming, thanks to their 2018 film Game Night starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. They have promised that Honour Among Thieves will please hardcore fans of the game and non-fans alike.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves stars Chris Pine as Edgin Darvis, a bard turned thief. He was once a warrior of honour but finds himself in prison after betraying his oath when he attempted to steal a powerful relic in a heist gone wrong. He shares a cell with a female barbarian named Holga (Michelle Rodriguez). Through flashbacks, we learn about what happened to Edgin’s wife and how he ended up behind bars. When he is granted parole, Edgin just wants to return to his daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman). He escapes with Holga and together they set out to find Kira, who is under the care of a huckster and friend named Forge (Hugh Grant).
After reuniting with Kira, Edgin finds himself exiled once again and must plan to convince his daughter that he has changed. He must also locate the ‘relic’ that he previously attempted to steal, which landed him in jail. With the help of Holga, they assemble a team that includes Doric, the shapeshifting Druid (Sophia Lillis), Simon, the bumbling Sorcerer (Justice Smith), and Xenk, the Paladin (Regé-Jean Page).
This film feels more at home with the likes of The Princess Bride or Willow than The Lord Of The Rings or even Game Of Thrones. It’s clear that Daley and Goldstein are fans of the long-running RPG and have given the care and attention that other fans will expect. While my knowledge of the game is limited (I was more a fan of the rival RPG Warhammer), I do know that Honour Among Thieves has plenty of Easter Eggs that will keep hardcore fans happy. There is even an Easter Egg that will bring a smile to fans who grew up watching the 1980s animated TV show.
While a certain cinematic universe based on comic books might focus solely on its core fans, this film knows that it can’t alienate anyone. In order to be successful, it must appeal to everyone. For non-D&D fans, this movie will play more like a comedy than a fantasy adventure. Fans of the game will appreciate the familiar creatures, magic, and the way it pokes fun at the game masters and the creation of crazy and unique scenarios.
Running at just over 2 hours, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves may become a little uncomfortable for the casual viewer. It’s clear that Daley and Goldstein prioritize comedy over fanboy nerdiness. The plot may not be highly original, and the green screen CGI may be a little hammy. However, thanks to a cast who bring fun and charisma, they make this film an enjoyable popcorn escapade. While it may not reach the levels of the MCU, it’s engaging and immersive enough to charm your socks off.
Action, Adventure, Comedy | USA, 2023 | 15 | Cinema | 31st March 2023 (UK) | eOne UK | Dir. John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein | Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Daisy Head
Originally posted at The Peoples Movies 27th March 2023 | Original Review link
One response to “Film Review – Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves (2023)”
[…] Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves will be available to own on 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from 31st July 2023. Read my review here. […]