REVIEW: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

This March brought the latest attempt to bring the world’s biggest roleplaying game to the big screen. When I saw the first trailers for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, I thought they looked good, but I was still a little nervous. I’m aware of several Dungeons & Dragons movies, but I’ve only ever seen the 2000 film starring Jeremy Irons and Justin Whalin. Like most people, I don’t like that movie or consider it a good adaptation. It’s too silly and detached from the spirit of the game. It’s not that I think the game can’t translate to the medium of film; I just don’t trust it until I see it. So, does Honor Among Thieves redeem the franchise’s cinematic aspirations, or does Dungeons & Dragons belong on your tabletop? Rally your party and grab your dice because we’re going adventuring!

Honor Among Thieves follows an aggrieved bard named Edgin (Chris Pine) and a barbarian named Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) as they get their party back together for a grand quest. Old friends Simon (Justice Smith) and Forge (Hugh Grant), as well as new allies like Doric (Sophia Lillis) and Xenk (Regé-Jean Page), join the fold as Edgin and Holga encounter wizards, zombies, and a morbidly obese dragon. Before long, a simple journey to return home becomes a fight for justice and the safety of others. 

The cast was immediately notable in this film’s marketing. The 2000 movie had a couple of familiar faces but not enough star power to draw people in for a DnD movie. The ads for Honor Among Thieves played up its well-meaning sense of fun and an impressive cast of well-known but not A-list actors. Chris Pine is probably the biggest draw here, though I know Regé-Jean Page has a dedicated female fanbase. I only know the latter from Bridgerton, which I haven’t seen and probably never will. Holga is fittingly played by Michelle Rodriguez, known for the Avatar and Fast and the Furious franchises. Sophia Lillis (ITI Am Not Okay With This) and Justice Smith (Paper TownsDetective Pikachu) round out the party as tiefling druid Doric and half-elf sorcerer Simon. If you’ve seen the trailers, it should come as no surprise that Edgin’s old friend Forge (Hugh Grant) is actually a primary antagonist in the film. Grant’s role here reminds me of his performance in Paddington 2 – a great movie everyone should watch, by the way. There, he’s also a hilarious villain you love to watch. I grew up with Hugh Grant as a romantic lead in the rom-coms my mom watched. These small-scale love stories bore me most of the time, and I love how he’s pivoted to comedy and mustache-twirling villainy. It’s just so much more fun! While he isn’t a villain in Glass Onion and only appears briefly, I liked him a lot in that too. Daisy Head stars as a wizard named Sophina, Forge’s partner in crime, and Chloe Coleman is Kira, Edgin’s daughter. My favorite character is Regé-Jean Page’s Xenk, an honorable paladin with a cross to bear. 

Dungeons & Dragons Review

I went into this movie with a lot of assumptions. For one thing, I’m not used to these things having even serviceable CGI or practical effects, and Honor Among Thieves knocked my proverbial socks off visually. The costumes and makeup are very impressive. I especially appreciated the humanoid creatures like Chancellor Jarnathan and a family of tabaxi (cat-people) that Xenk helps. The landscapes and cities are genuinely pretty, and environments like the Underdark are translated with care from the source material. The Mandalorian needs to study how characters leap and fly in this movie for Grogu’s Force jump. Adaptation is a make-it-or-break-it criteria for this movie, and the writers and designers ace it. There are enough Easter eggs and famous locations to show an appreciation of the game without overwhelming the casual viewer. I doubt the general audience would find the movie confusing or esoteric because the story and characters are simple enough to follow. Lorne Balfe composed Honor Among Thieves’ original score, and it’s a lot of fun. This is the rare category where the 2000 Dungeons & Dragons may tie with Honor Among Thieves; that movie is trash, but the main theme is a bop, okay? Every facet of production shows a genuine attempt to take DnD seriously, but not too seriously, to have a little fun. I like it. 

Dungeons & Dragons Review

I don’t even want to talk about this, but thanks to interviews leading up to the film’s release, I fear I must. The directors made statements regarding emasculating male characters for comedy in this movie, mostly Chris Pine’s Edgin. I can see what they mean; his wife playfully calls him a coward at one point, and he’s a bard. He’s not exactly the big, strong hero of the group despite being the apparent leader. However, I think this was misconstrued, thanks to bad wording and the internet’s obsession with gender and representation. Edgin is mostly likable and not the only male character in the movie. The fact that he plays the lute and lets other people do the fighting is fine with me because he doesn’t represent all men. By contrast, sorcerer Simon discovers his self-esteem and true power throughout the movie, and paladin Xenk is a straight-up badass. The women aren’t all tough and strong, either; Holga is, but the villainess is a corpse-like wizard, and Doric relies on stealth and communion with nature. Meanwhile, Kira is a plot device that needs rescuing by her father and surrogate mother. I fail to see any race or gender-related statement on the movie’s part, which is for the best because most of us just don’t want to think about that anymore. Casting multiple ethnic and gender identities in prominent roles, good and evil, is good for business and helps alleviate any such concerns. 

Dungeons & Dragons Review

In summary, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a barrel of laughs. It’s also visually gorgeous and surprisingly poignant. The characters are well-written and simultaneously fit well into the game’s archetypes. The story is simple enough for us to focus on the fun locales and creatures. If they decide to pursue sequels, I’d be here for them. A movie hasn’t left me feeling as good as this in months, at least. 

But what do you think? Do you play DnD? Did you see this movie, or do you want to? Don’t forget to check out G+G Tabletop!

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves(2023)

Plot - 8
Acting - 9
Music/Sound - 9
Direction/Editing - 8
Action - 6



I would recommend Honor Among Thieves to DnD players as well as anyone who just wants to have a good time.

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