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Review: 'Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves' rolls a perfect 00

Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at 4:11 PM Central
Last updated Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at 4:12 PM Central

by John Couture

If you couldn't figure out from lame attempt at D&D humor in the headline, I know next to nothing about Dungeons & Dragons. What little I do know, I learned from Stranger Things.

So, am I the best person to review Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves? Luckily, I know plenty about movies and I think I'm uniquely positioned to provide an outsider's opinion on this movie.

Much to Paramount's relief, that opinion is extremely positive.

A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure.

The basic gist of D&D that I have gathered through my many years of exposure to popular culture is that it's a game that can be simple or complicated. The campaigns could be quick or marathon sessions that can last days... or longer.

That and there's a bunch of fancy dice involved.

So, going into this viewing, I was pretty sure that there would be more to it than simply rolling dice to determine your fate and I was right. There was a lot more, but I never felt like the concept of the film took anything away from the game and vice versa. While I can't really speak as an ardent D&D fan, I would suspect that they also found the movie to be a fun reflection of their passion on the big screen.

From this perspective, I could certainly relate. As someone who grew up playing and loving hockey, I have seen my favorite sport portrayed both accurately and beautifully (Youngblood) and miserably (Sudden Death, MVP: Most Valuable Primate). I know a thing or two about seeing your passion derided on the big screen for all to see.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was none of that. You could tell that the filmmakers lovingly enjoyed the game, yet didn't have any hangups about making a film that doesn't take itself too seriously. And that is the pure magic of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Speaking of games, there was a little movie released in 2018 that I adored from the same directors (Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley) called Game Night. It was hilarious and dark and precisely the right tone for what could have been just another pedestrian comedy forgotten just as quickly.

Instead, Game Night is a budding cult hit that is highly re-watchable and with so many wonderful performances. So, when I realized that they were the filmmakers behind Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, my expectations went through the roof. And despite these lofty anticipations, I was completely blown away.

The film follows the general layout of a D&D campaign where a motley group of various classes set off on a quest. The twist here is that the group is more flawed and less altruistic than say Robin Hood, but I wouldn't completely rule out a few hearts of gold in the group.

Speaking of the group, Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez bring the gravitas, while newcomers such as Sophia Lillis and Rege-Jean Page bring their own brand of awesomeness. This combination is on display throughout the movie and the comic relief balances out the fantasy adventure elements quite nicely.

Given that Chris Pine is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Captain Kirk in the updated timeline of Star Trek movies. And given that both those films and this one were released by Paramount, you might think this was simply a prestige casting within the studio, but you would be wrong. Pine's comic chops are top-notch and he's able to display them here as they compliment his boyish charm to perfection.

In fact, one could draw many parallels between his career and approach to the craft and that of the film's main baddie, Hugh Grant. Chris Pine is quickly becoming a bankable name with a lot of range to slot into just about any film out there.

Unlike Game Night, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is truly a film fit for the whole family. Our entire gang watched this and from age 9 to 48, we all loved it. The kids are huge Stranger Things fans, so their initial interest was served by getting to know the game behind the franchise better, but they were soon swept up in the film's magic.

As we watched it together, it became apparent quickly that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is one of those rare, treasured unicorns in Hollywood, a true family film that entertains all that watch it. Earning almost $100 million in this post-pandemic box office might not sound like a whole lot, but with the inevitable expansion of fans who will discover the movie on home entertainment, a sequel is almost inevitable.

And as long as they are able to get the gang back together, I will be there to witness it and you should too. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD.