Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Movie Review

To say that the original 2000 Dungeons & Dragons movie was a critical failure is an understatement. By contrast, if the new movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves isn't a cinematic natural 20, it's at least a 19. PLEASE NOTE: This review contains spoilers!

DnD HAT Poster 2.PNG

Old and New​

The contrast between the two movies isn't just drastic, it also highlights why one succeeds while another failed. Courtney Solomon, producer/director of the 2000 film, used very little recognizable D&D content, chose Izmer as the location, and changed a lot of what it did use. The tone tried to be epic and funny in an unfortunate combination that did neither.

For D&D:HAT, producer/director/writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein capture the feeling of a good D&D campaign – adventure, heroics, humor, and enough heart to make you care about what happens to the characters. While firmly grounding movie in Faerun's Sword Coast, it's never heavy handed. Characters don't name every spell or item used unless it's relevant and logical.

Xenk and Edgin.PNG

Set in the Forgotten Realms​

No actual knowledge of D&D or the Forgotten Realms is needed to enjoy the movie, so if you want to bring non-gamers to see it, they'll be just fine.

At the same time, the movie effortlessly establishes how Faerun is different from other fantasy settings like Middle-Earth or Westeros. Aarakocra, dragonborn, and tabaxi are just a few of the species depicted in addition to elves, tieflings, dwarves, etc.

The movie starts in Revel's End in Icewind Dale and soon provides a perfect in-story reason to recap Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga's (Michelle Rodriguez) back story. This, along with how they met Forge Hugh Grant) and Simon (Justice Smith), are covered in detail in the prequel novel, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: Road to Neverwinter, but the movie explains everything you need to know if you haven't read the book. Soon, a personal yet epic quest begins to find the objects necessary to right a wrong, stop a plot by the Red Wizards of Thay, and reunite Edgin with his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman), taking them to Neverwinter, the Underdark, Uthgardt Elk Tribe territory, and more.

And just like most D&D campaigns, plans are made and go astray before the crew improvises a solution. There's even one part that subtly reminds me of players ignoring a DM's plans to go off and do something else.

Simon brings Doric into the team, despite her reservations about humans. In her prequel novel, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: Druid's Call, a mysterious, human-led, well-financed group are cutting down a forest. The book's unresolved question of who and why is answered in the movie.

Daley and Goldstein are long-time D&D players, and it shows in how they constructed the story and brought Faerun to life. Yet while the movie mostly follows D&D rules, it does indulge in “the rule of cool” a few times, most notably Doric's ability to wildshape into an owlbear. A reason was provided for it in her prequel novel, but they're really doing it because it does look awesome. In fact, there's one scene where owlbear Doric thwamps a character in a way that might become as popular in pop culture as Hulk's thwamping of Loki.

Doric Simon Edgin Holga.PNG

Why Are They Working Together?​

The trailers raised questions as to why Regé-Jean Page's paladin would be working with a crew of thieves. The movie explains it well, and Page is terrific as Xenk, perfectly establishing how paladins are both useful and annoying. Scenes between Page and Pine also beautifully illustrate how different two Charisma-based characters can be.

I also love how they depict Holga. At a table, barbarians are often played as just brute force fighters. Holga shows how situational awareness, practical ingenuity, and brute force are even more effective combined.

The movie contains both actor and character cameos I won't spoil. Just pay attention to some of the other characters in the games sequence for some of them.

DnD HAT Poster 1.PNG

Should You See It?​

Based on the terrific job they did with the Spider-Man: Homecoming script, I was hopeful that Daley and Goldstein would pull off a good D&D movie. They actually exceeded my expectations. The movie is incredibly fun, and I genuinely laughed out loud at some dialogue. It simultaneously tugged at my heart in places, and in legitimate ways since it had laid the groundwork beforehand.

The movie is a self-contained story that leaves a ton of room for sequels. If one or two can match this, not only will it be a well-established franchise, but could also spin off into other parts of the D&D multiverse.

Stick around for a mid-credit scene that's just perfect in every way.

I can't wait until D&D:HAT is available for purchase. I know there are things in the background that I didn't quite catch. The mix of being an incredibly fun movie with being able to rewind it to catch all the Easter eggs and casual references makes it a must-buy for me.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves hits a perfect tone and blend of adventure, heart, and humor. A+
 
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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
Do you think Honor Among Thieves may become a sort of slow flop? Honestly, releasing it shortly before the Super Mario movie probably wasn't the best decision.

I know it only has been two weekends, but I suspect it would've had less competition if it had released mid-April.
I expect they bet on owning opening weekend and getting to say "#1 movie in the world". Mario will have that for three straight weeks.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Do you think Honor Among Thieves may become a sort of slow flop? Honestly, releasing it shortly before the Super Mario movie probably wasn't the best decision.

I know it only has been two weekends, but I suspect it would've had less competition if it had released mid-April.
I think the appropriate term by the end will be "sleeper hit": successful enough for the companies involved to make another, and loved by the people who see it. If you look at the current Amazon charts for movies, it is doing very, very well as a pre-order for the home video.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Do you think Honor Among Thieves may become a sort of slow flop?
That's not really a thing.
Honestly, releasing it shortly before the Super Mario movie probably wasn't the best decision.

I know it only has been two weekends, but I suspect it would've had less competition if it had released mid-April.
I think the studios believe each film (and John Wick) primarily appeals to different age brackets.
 

Oofta

Legend
That's not really a thing.

I think the studios believe each film (and John Wick) primarily appeals to different age brackets.
The Mario movies is really only targeted at little kids and to a lesser degree nostalgic adults. The movie industry is changing and going out to a theater to see a movie is not as big a draw any more. When you have what would have been an unthinkably large TV at home just a few years ago, it's just not that big a deal to wait for something you want to see. But taking your kid out to a movie? That's still an experience a lot of people want.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
The Mario movies is really only targeted at little kids and to a lesser degree nostalgic adults. The movie industry is changing and going out to a theater to see a movie is not as big a draw any more. When you have what would have been an unthinkably large TV at home just a few years ago, it's just not that big a deal to wait for something you want to see. But taking your kid out to a movie? That's still an experience a lot of people want.
When I took my kids to the first matinee showing last Saturday, it was packed with families with small kids there to see Mario. Any teenagers along for the ride looked appropriately scandalized at being there at the first showing of the day.
 

wellis

Explorer
The Mario movie already made half a billion dollars, 5x its budget.

Well I hope the D&D movie does well enough to be considered a success. Or a sleeper hit or whatever.
 



Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
The Mario movie already made half a billion dollars, 5x its budget.

Well I hope the D&D movie does well enough to be considered a success. Or a sleeper hit or whatever.

Deadline said:
Sixth place belongs to Paramount/eOne’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves with $7.5M, -46%, after an estimated $2.28M Sunday. Its running total is $74.2M. A belief stands in distribution land that this movie can still get to $100M.
 


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