Dungeons and Dragons have had a bit of a resurgence over the last few years. This is partially due to its inclusion in Stranger Things, but nerd culture in general has become far more mainstream than it ever was in the past. At this point, it’s cool to be a nerd. So it wasn’t all that surprising when a new Dungeons and Dragons movie was announced. Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves still doesn’t get the formula right, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
Honor Among Thieves follows Edgin (Chris Pine) the Bard, as he journeys on a quest to find a pair of magical items that will bring back his late wife. He’s joined by Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) the Barbarian, Simon (Justice Smith) the Mage, and Doric (Sophia Lillis) the shapeshifting Druid. Along the way, they’ll butt heads with Forge (Hugh Grant) the Rogue, and his accomplice Sofina (Daisy Head) the Red Wizard.
While the world of Honor Among Thieves takes itself quite seriously, this is a comedy through and through. Some of the jokes land, many do not, but this isn’t like the recent Jumanji films in which we see players in the real world, and the big stars act as their avatars. That approach would have worked much better than what we got, but there are enough humor and fun moments in Honor Among Thieves that it’s entertaining for general audiences.
As charming as Chris Pine is, Edgin doesn’t feel like a D&D bard. He feels like Chris Pine playing a character. Likewise, Michelle Rodriguez feels typecast, playing almost the exact same character we’ve seen her play a dozen times already, only now she has an ax. The same goes for Justice Smith, and to a lesser extent, Hugh Grant. And coming off of Shadow and Bone and The Sandman, Daisy Head feels woefully underutilized.
The only standout performance is from Regé-Jean Page as the Paladin, Xenk. This character is reminiscent of Drax (Dave Bautista) in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, but not quite as inept. Page steals every scene he’s in, and is easily one of the most entertaining characters of the film. Xenk and the special effects were the clear highlights of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which is enough for general audiences, but not much more.
Unfortunately, Paramount Pictures seems to cater everything toward general audiences. This is something that plagued nerd culture films for decades until Marvel Studios finally listened to the fans and became the most successful studio in Hollywood. Despite this fact, Paramount (and CBS Studios) are dead set on butchering popular properties in an attempt to get general audiences interested, instead of just catering to the fan base.
We’ve seen this issue with Transformers, G.I. Joe, Star Trek, and now Dungeons and Dragons. To its credit, Honor Among Thieves is superior in almost every way to Paramount and CBS Studios’ failed attempts at Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Star Trek, but there’s still a long way to go before they actually get it. Aside from Xenk, Honor Among Thieves doesn’t feel like a Dungeons and Dragons adventure. It feels like any other fantasy film that leans heavily on special effects and hit-or-miss comedy.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves offers a few nods to fans of the property, but it doesn’t feel as though it was made for them in the same way that Transformers changed the design of all the robots, and G.I. Joe almost completely ignored the over the top vehicles that made the cartoon and comics so fun. Honor Among Thieves is a movie made for general audiences, and that means there’s a lot of room for improvement.
About Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Synopsis: 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.
Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Writers: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, Michael Gilio
Stars: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant
Runtime: 2 Hours, 14 Minutes
Releases: March 31, 2023 (USA)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.