Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) Review: This Franchise-Birthing Fantasy Live-Action Is A Pleasant Crowdpleaser

Dungeons & Dragons Honor Among Thieves (2023) Review

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) Review: Mainstream sentiments toward tabletop roleplay games like Dungeons & Dragons have undergone a massive shift over the last 50 years. What has once been deemed a niche entryway into a world of hyper-specific nerdism is now a more widely accessible escape into a fantastical realm filled with magical beasts, arcane artifacts, and Dungeon Masters.

D&D is now more mainstream and profitable as a fantasy role-playing IP than ever before, as we have thankfully pushed past the baffling moral panic surrounding the game in the 1980s.

With D&D harboring endless potential as a burgeoning media franchise at the moment, the arrival of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves could be the start of something fresh and wholly fulfilling.

Writer-directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley inherently understand how to walk the tightrope of fan service and wider accessibility — the duo have succeeded in crafting a franchise entry point that makes the transition onto the big screen as smooth as possible.

There is no dearth of D&D-related and adjacent media, ranging from a 3-season CBS animated series to numerous magazines, limited series comics, and video games. Plunging straight into the roots of a wildly limitless fantasy universe that is so varied in its player-based interpretation (despite relying on a guidebook) can easily be a recipe for disaster.

Honor Among Thieves evades this problem by building its narrative on formulaic fantasy storylines and injecting potentially bland plot points with a healthy dose of fun and humor.

Edgin (Chris Pine) recounts his story during a pardon appeal to a council, giving us a glimpse into his Jaskier-style wandering bard slash covert hero lifestyle prior to things going to hell.

His no-nonsense, axe-wielding best friend Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) saves him from going astray, helping him raise his daughter after his wife is murdered by a group of Red Wizards (who are the baddies in this tale).

The mission to save his daughter from the unscrupulous Forge (Hugh Grant), now the Lord of Neverwinter, gives way to an elaborate fetch quest that demands a group of heroes — nay, thieves — banding together and overcoming impossible odds.

Figures meant to solely impart key information for quests also make an appearance. In this case, it’s Regé-Jean Page’s paladin Xenk, who embodies the extremes of the “good and honorable” trope, which the film utilizes fairly well to evoke humor from time to time.

It is no secret that D&D is heavily influenced by standard fantasy literature and media, wherein it incorporates the best aspects of works by the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and H.P. Love craft.

Magic and class-based player systems are an amalgamation of the broad tropes that characterize the genre. The creatures that populate this world are echoes of what already exists in a broad range of fictional fantasy settings.

However, this somewhat-derivative aspect of D&D does not diminish the game’s authenticity. If anything, it is an homage to what makes the genre so compelling and wondrous and a celebration of one of the best aspects of being human: limitless creativity and vivid imagination. There is nothing groundbreaking or ambitious about Honor Among Thieves, as it consistently weaves scenarios on expected tropes and lands on emotional throughlines that are a bit hackneyed at this point in time.

But does that make the film any less enjoyable? Absolutely not. None of these trope-isms would have worked with a cast short on charm, and the central gang that steers the narrative is relatable, easy to empathize with, and entertaining to watch.

Moreover, Daisy Head brings an especially sinister brand of dark villainy to her role as Sophina. Every scene she is in grants the film a more serious, genuinely menacing tint that is otherwise deliberately dialed back throughout its 2-hour 14-minute runtime.

There are instances that seem to drag the story a little too languidly. Still, Goldstein and Daley firmly find their footing once displacer beasts hound players in a maze arena or when the titular thieves manipulate the odds in their favor.

A sense of absurdity permeates throughout, true to the nature of long-as-heck D&D campaigns that can be thrilling, meandering rides where things repeatedly go almost off the rails.

Honor Among Thieves shines best when it leans into its humor while embracing the exaggerated nature of dangerous fetch quests involving undead mages wielding flaming green swords and a rather hilarious info-retrieval session involving necromancy.

In essence, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a crowdpleaser in the best of ways, resuscitating overplayed tropes with the right amount of thrills, humor, and heart.


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Dungeons & Dragons Honor Among Thieves (2023) Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
Dungeons & Dragons Honor Among Thieves (2023) Cast: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page
Where to watch Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Debopriyaa Dutta

An intersection of hope and hell. Wildly passionate about poetry and cinema, maddened by the idea of beauty.