Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Image

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

By Benjamin Franz | April 2, 2023

Growing up in the 1980s, Gary Gygax’s modest role-playing game was a thing of wonder. Four to six guys would crowd around a table with sheets of paper and roll dice, whilst the Dungeon Master (the referee who walks adventurers through the quest) would spin gloriously demented adventures. Whatever the imagination conjured up, the DM would dictate the possible actions the adventurers (players) could select to overcome the current hurdle.

Throughout Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, it’s quite clear co-writers and co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein were (are?) avid D&D players. In point of fact, on Freaks and Geeks, Daley’s character DM’d games for his television friends. Clearly, a slice of reality interstitched into the cult dramedy. So, how does their fantasy adventure compare to the hallowed campaigns I played in my youth? Quite simply, in a most wonderfully nostalgic manner. We are deep in the age of Nostalgia bait, and I, for one, am here for all of it.

Here we have a classic company of adventurers: Edgin the bard (Chris Pine), fighter Holga (the indefatigable Michelle Rodriguez), sorcerer Simon (Justice Smith), and Doric (Sophia Lillis). In addition, the Paladin Xenk Yandor (a superb René-Jean Page) accompanies them on a side quest. When you consider these five characters, they are very well-balanced, and the chemistry electrifies. This is an essential element to your standard fantasy adventure; you have to find the party likable. These “thieves” are consummately so.

“…must heist Forge’s ill-gotten plunder and reclaim Edgin’s daughter.”

The story is the standard D&D fare set between Icewind Dale and Neverwinter in the Forgotten realms. Having escaped the prison in Icewind, Edgin and Holga set out to find Kira (Chloe Coleman), who Edgin’s imprisonment forced him to abandon. They find Kira being tended to by former companion Forge (the incomparable Hugh Grant). He’ll not give Kira back, and thus we have the essence of the campaign. The adventurers must heist Forge’s ill-gotten plunder and reclaim Edgin’s daughter. Also, they must contend with the Red Wizard Sofina (Daisy Head), who is aiding and abetting Forge’s plot. She has a dark agenda of her own, which unfolds itself gloriously.

I found Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves to be a glorious piece of nostalgia. Many homages, callbacks, and cameos of legendary monsters and magical artifacts exist throughout. Themberchaud the Chonky Red Dragon, and a staff of portals both make appearances! But, the filmmakers keep their story extremely accessible to those who have never touched the game before. It’s a lively, fast-paced romp, and its special effects are generally outstanding.

All that would be for naught if the acting wasn’t there. Pine is a natural lead for comedy adventures, fantasy, and otherwise. If you need a leading man with savage comedic timing and wit, he’s the go-to. If anyone gets the idea to make a film out of the Space Quest series, Pine would be an incredible casting for Roger Wilco. Rodriguez has excellent chemistry with Pine, while Smith and Lillis both feel like naturals in a fantasy world. Page steals the show and chews all the scenery as the most earnest and good-hearted Paladin. Finally, Grant and Head are terrific as the villains. Oftentimes, the baddies in mid-range fantasy are the best characters. I’m glad to say every lead is strong in this.

Daley and Goldstein have written and directed a fabulous paean to the granddaddy of Tabletop Role-Playing games that is just so much fun. While Gygax’s company TSR was eventually bought by Wizards of the Coast, which was swallowed whole by Hasbro, the fun of adventuring in this manner hasn’t faded. I’m here to tell you Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a rollicking great fantasy adventure. When you seek this out, do yourself a favor and watch it on the biggest screen possible.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Directed and Written: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Starring: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, René-Jean Page, Chloe Coleman, Hugh Grant, Daisy Head, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Image

"…a rollicking great fantasy..."

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