Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Movie Name/Year: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Length:  2h 14min
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Paramount Pictures, Entertainment One, Allspark Pictures, Hasbro Studios, Hasbro, Paramount Pictures International, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Writers: Michael Gilio, John Francis Daley, Chris McKay, Jonathan Goldstein
Actors: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Rege-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Alexis Rodney, Bryan Larkin, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, Dan Poole, Edgar Abram, Jason Wong, Kenneth Collard, Lati Gbaja, Nicholas Blane, Sophia Eleni, Spencer Wilding, Bradley Cooper
IMDb Blurb: A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.
Cat’s Point of View:
Where do I even begin? I have so many thoughts swirling through me in the wake of watching Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. I am ecstatic to advise that none of them are patently negative. 

I suppose we should just roll initiative and start from the top. 

When I penned the Top 20 Movies to Look Out for in March 2023 article, I expressed my decidedly few reservations about watching this movie. I spent a long time debating with myself whether or not I felt I needed to make the proverbial stand because of Hasbro’s recent bad behavior or if there were more tick marks in the positives column after all. Then I read an announcement that Amazon Prime members were getting an opportunity for a special early screening of the film on March 19th. It was my husband’s birthday weekend and the excitement that our whole family had for that experience helped me make up my mind. 
For those die-hard D&D gamers, fans, and content creators alike who are aware of what happened with Wizards of the Coast and the Open Gaming License debacle, please understand that this was not a decision made lightly. Our family has deep-rooted ties to the D&D franchise dating back to its origins. My husband used to game at Gygax’s table and was the one that brought me into my love for the tabletop game. I was a fan, however, long before I rolled any dice due to the Saturday morning cartoon that ran from 1983-1985. It remains one of my favorites of all time. 

Those that love this framework that gives imagination flight and teaches long-form storytelling, group dynamics, and critical thinking deserved a movie that got it all right. There have been attempts in the past that fell short of expectations. It was about time that mainstream Hollywood took this corner of geek culture seriously. That was what got my attention the very first time I saw the trailer. It felt like the time had finally arrived. 

I was not disappointed. 

There are two primary facets to my review of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. The first is this - you don’t have to know anything about D&D to enjoy this movie. 

Anyone who simply enjoys the fantasy and action/adventure genres should find plenty to love within this production. There are heists, castles, dazzling action, gorgeous special effects with a liberal use of practical, interesting in-depth characters, and freaking dragons. There’s excellent fight choreography and skillful cinematography. The humor was on point, as well. Even the end credits had me giggling due to the animated segments reminded me of the style used by Monty Python. 

Then you add in this fantastic cast, and you’ve got a blockbuster movie by all accounts. Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins, Paddington 2, The Undoing), Chris Pine (Outlaw King, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, All the Old Knives), and RegĂ©-Jean Page (Bridgerton, The Gray Man, The Sandman) would be enough to lend weight to most films, but then their presence barely scratched the surface. Michelle Rodriguez (Widows, Alita: Battle Angel, F9: The Fast Saga), Justice Smith (Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, Ron's Gone Wrong, Jurassic World: Dominion), Sophia Lillis (It, Gretel & Hansel, I Am Not Okay with This), and Daisy Head (Ophelia, Wrong Turn, Shadow and Bone) are recognizable in their own right for their excellent work. 

You don’t have to be someone who plays D&D to enjoy Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. I promise. 

It does, however, add extra depth to this film for those that do. This section of my review is for all of you out there. 

This is the first time I’ve watched a D&D movie where I recognized creatures, spells, locations, and lore-based characters from the source material. The scenes with the owl-bear shifted druid, the mimic, and the gelatinous cube were everything I hoped they would be and then some. There are even more creature-related nuggets within this production, and so many Easter Eggs but I don’t want to spoil all of the “OOH!” moments. 

The chromatic dragons were represented accurately, as well as all of the other races they chose to depict within the melting pot of the Forgotten Realms setting. Well…except one. My ONLY quibble with the entire movie was the practical effects used for a single pair of background characters. It was a single drop of meh within an ocean of excitement and happiness. 

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves felt like I was watching a real campaign come to life on the screen. The cast worked so well within their roles - both within the story and as depicting their character classes. 

If there were faults within this movie, I was so giddy about everything as a whole that I didn’t notice and I honestly wouldn’t care. We need more of this, and I’m hopeful that this can be the beginning of a D&D based cinematic universe. The story within this film would allow for that, but even if not that - the vast volumes of source material out there leave things open to endless possibilities. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed. 

If you get a chance to watch Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, by all means please do so. It’s the fun and exciting time we all enjoy when we go to the movies, and it’s just the sort of balm for the soul while there’s so much negativity in the news and world at large. 

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves begins to hit theater screens with some sneek peek showings as early as March 26th, though its wide release date remains March 31st. No streaming information is available at this time, though since Paramount is one of the production companies involved, it’s likely to hit Paramount+ after the prerequisite theatrical run.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 86%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –None
Metascore – 76%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – None
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5

P.S. - There is a brief mid-credits scene, as well as animated vignettes during the beginning of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

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