Film: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

On the spectrum of D&D fandom, I’m somewhere in the middle: enough history with the game to remember it fondly, but not so much that it’s baked into my DNA. As such, I had no particular compulsion to watch Dungeon & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023), but also no aversion. By no means a great film, it’s a playful, bracing diversion, especially for those with inside knowledge of D&D’s classes, monsters, and game mechanics.

It starts with amiable bard Edgin (Chris Pine) and gruff barbarian Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) as they plead their case to be released from prison, so that Edgin can be reunited with his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman). Upon their return to society, they find that Kira has been “adopted” by their former colleague Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), a con man who has managed to achieve power as the Lord of Neverwinter. Forge sold them out to land them in prison, and if that’s not enough, he has also aligned with nefarious wizard Sofina (Daisy Head) and poisoned Kira against her father. To rectify the situation, Edgin and Holga devise a plan to infiltrate the city, rescue Kira, and finish the job that landed them in this mess: recovering the Tablet of Reawakening, so that Edgin can resurrect his wife. To that end, they recruit the aid of sorcerer Simon Augur (Justice Smith), druid Doric (Sophia Lillis), and paladin Xenk Yendar (a scene-stealing Regé-Jean Page) to aid in their mission.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is no fantasy masterpiece, but it’s broadly entertaining, full of humor, fantastical eyeball kicks, and Easter eggs for gaming buffs. The vibe is very MCU: lots of CGI action, fun characters, banter, comic-book villainy, and earth-shattering threats. Structurally, it frames its quest rather nicely, even while it feels slapdash and improvised in the manner of an ongoing D&D campaign. Indeed, the character names, casually modern language, and anachronistic heist trappings add a cheeky meta layer to the tale, making it feel like friends role-playing a movie script. Fans of D&D will also enjoy seeing a menagerie of Monster Manual favorites, some quite strikingly rendered. Oh, at times it feels disposable, a flashy popcorn blockbuster with uneven special effects. But the performances are fun, the quest is engaging, and there’s winning heart underlying the adventure. I absolutely enjoyed myself.

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