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.

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.

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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.

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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


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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Sleeper hit seems yo be the end result: well regarded, not a flop, probably worth a sequel
Let's see how the merch does. I saw a lot of it this weekend, and it all appeared to be selling, given that there were gaps where items had been sold. Notably, it was out in the middle of the Barnes & Noble store in the good real estate, rather than being stuck back with the RPGs and graphic novels.
 



EthanSental

Legend
Supporter
Maybe it has staying power from word of mouth and good reviews….it was #1, 4, 6 and then back up to 5 so some thing dropped out for it to gain a spot this last weekend.

I’m curious if there’s an extended or directors cut for streaming later on when it’s released via prime or whatever other service.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Maybe it has staying power from word of mouth and good reviews….it was #1, 4, 6 and then back up to 5 so some thing dropped out for it to gain a spot this last weekend.

I’m curious if there’s an extended or directors cut for streaming later on when it’s released via prime or whatever other service.
It looks to be hoofing to $100 million domestic, and is doing well internationally. It's not a world shattering hit, but they will make money.
 


I’m curious if there’s an extended or directors cut for streaming later on when it’s released via prime or whatever other service.
I suspect if there is, the changes will be minor. I believe CGI is expensive enough that it’s usually only finalised for the stuff that’s included in the final cut of a film, and I can’t see them chucking a load more dollars at what will be, at best, a moderately profitable medium-level non-blockbuster.

I do kinda miss the days of practical effects when there genuinely were missing or deleted scenes that could show up later in full quality, on the dvd special features or something.
 


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