‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves’ evaluation: Does this fantasy journey lastly seize the magic of the sport?

Since its creation in 1974, Dungeons & Dragons has been a haven for fantasy lovers to discover their imaginations by bounding collectively into quests and battles in opposition to monsters and magical menace. For almost 50 years, the tabletop role-playing recreation has courted controversy, cast friendships, and influenced hit exhibits like Stranger Issues, Gravity Falls, Vox Machina, and Freaks and Geeks. But when it got here to movie, the place a string of less-than-memorable movies hit between 2000 and 2012, nobody had fairly captured the magic of gameplay…till now. 

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves has arrived at SXSW’s Opening Night time, and it’s the sort of epic enjoyable followers have been ready for. 


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What’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves about?

Chris Pine headlines a star-studded forged as Edgin, a bard who — when he’s not singing sweetly (typically as a distraction) — is plotting a heist together with his band of adventurers. His occasion contains Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), a barbarian whose battle axe is as sharp and damaging as her dry wit; Simon (Justice Smith), a half-human sorcerer who has nice magical skill however must degree up his confidence; Xenk (Bridgerton‘s Regé-Jean Web page) a noble Paladin, who blends integrity with a sly little bit of smugness; and Doric (Sophia Lillis), a Tiefling Druid, whose talents to shapeshift make for a few of this journey’s very biggest motion sequences. 

Collectively, they have to face off in opposition to self-proclaimed “con-man” Forge (Hugh Grant), a rogue who has teamed up with a menacing purple wizard. Sofina (Daisy Head), the menacing purple wizard in query, possesses flashy lightning spells, however they arrive second to her intense glower energy. Edgin’s quest is to rescue his teen daughter (Chloe Coleman), an impressionable younger woman who’s fallen prey to Forge and Sofina’s affect. Alongside the way in which, this troupe will encounter mighty monsters, curious creatures, and a few quirky cameos too shocking to spill right here. 

What does Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves get proper about D&D? 

Credit score: Paramount Footage

Followers of the sport will thrill to see how co-writers/co-directors John Francis Daley (of Freaks and Geeks fame) and Jonathan Goldstein delivered to vivid life Monster Guide creatures, just like the pouncing Displacer Beast, a ferocious Owlbear, a “pudgy” however lethal Pink Dragon, and even the comically harmful Gelatinous Dice. Conserving true to the enjoyment of experiencing the sport itself, the filmmakers have been cautious to maintain the small print of those designs acquainted, whereas permitting the animation to own a terrific bounce in its gravity.

All through the movie, there are moments of life-or-death stakes and even jolting soar scares. However this bounce, this sense of play, helps maintain issues gentle and enjoyable in order that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves is likely to be loved by grown-ups and youngsters alike. Inclusivity is a significant ingredient of the film, welcoming every kind of fantasy followers, whether or not they performed D&D or not. In case you have, you’ll probably yip and cheer as you acknowledge particular spells, objects, and creatures. In case you’re a degree nothing to this world, the script — by Daley, Goldstein, and Michael Gilio — swiftly provides sufficient context that you simply received’t miss out on the enjoyable. 

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves has terrific motion sequences. 

A dragon is poised to attack three adventurers in "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves"

Credit score: Paramount Footage

It higher, proper? It’s not simply that this film faces off in opposition to a myriad of fantasy movies (a few of which its supply materials loosely impressed), it’s that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves additionally faces off in opposition to the numerous motion sequences its gamers have imagined of their heads for many years. Dungeon Masters could fluctuate, however Daley and Goldstein do a spectacular job of weaving in hand-to-hand fight, spell-casting, and quips.

There may be hearth, swordplay, shapeshifting, and creative stunts. And inside every setup, there’s a refreshing selection. Some encounters are hard-hitting motion, with Quick and Livid alum Rodriguez’s Barbarian delivering precisely the sort of grit and kapow you’d anticipate from such casting. Different sequences have a rousing whimsy to them, with a transformative escape scene that has the vitality of Pixar’s Ratatouille. Nonetheless, different sequences flex frights with ominous swirls of darkish magic and tearful confessions. Tonally, the film rolls from comedic to thrilling to tender and again once more with ease. And admittedly, these swerves are obligatory for illustrating the essence of the sport. 

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves captures the play on the coronary heart of D&D. 

Regé-Jean Page in "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves"

Credit score: Paramount Footage

These shifts in tone are sparked by the battle between characters who’ve wildly totally different attitudes (and alignments(Opens in a brand new tab)). This group dynamic not solely makes sparks fly within the movie but in addition displays the enjoyable of taking part in characters amongst associates. The barbs between the bard and barbarian have a sibling sharpness. The swagger of the villain’s monologue brandishes pleasant showmanship. The clumsy romance between two occasion members mirrors the fumbles of a participant character whose coronary heart is pure however whose charisma is low roll. Basically, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves is authentically enjoyable in vein with the sport due to the way it embraces the issues and comedy of a terrific group dynamic. And props to the forged for that. 

Since Star Trek (2009), Pine has walked the road between goofy and gallant with the nimbleness of an acrobat. Right here, he’s recreation to play the ballad-slinging idiot in a single scene, then the earnest hero within the subsequent. Rodriguez is his foil, straight-faced but savage the place he’s sauntering and foolish, hitting her punchlines as pointedly as she does her — nicely — punches. Smith is vibrantly awkward, bringing humor and coronary heart, whereas Lillis provides a stoic but stirring efficiency as a traumatized misfit, searching for vengeance. In the meantime, Web page virtually glistens Lawful Good, but brings a sly levity to a task that might have gone stale within the incorrect palms. 

In distinction to this merry band, Head is legit harrowing as a witch with struggle on her thoughts. She throws her physique totally into spell casts and facial expressions that is likely to be over-the-top in a extra straight-faced fantasy. Right here, nonetheless, they make her the right reverse of Grant’s garrulous rogue, who’s an unrepentant scene-stealer — on prime of each different sort of stealer.

Grant has been dwelling it up as a comedically thrilling baddie in movies like Paddington 2, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, and now Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves. And he’s a global treasure for his service. 

Hugh Grant in "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves."

Credit score: Paramount Footage

In a film filled with humorous moments, Grant scores probably the most, thanks partly to his roguish smile, ripe and beguiling. As he threatens execution and delivers weird compliments with the identical bon vivant verve, there’s a gleefulness in his efficiency that’s positively contagious. “Scoundrelly however professorial,” he chirps of Edgin’s look, “You appear like a well-read fisherman!” He’s so high-level charming, you is likely to be tempted to root for him regardless of all of the villainy. 

A superb choose for SXSW‘s Opening Night time, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves is a rollicking crowdpleaser, bursting with motion, comedy, and spectacle. Its filmmakers deftly stability tones and character arcs to offer everybody their hero second, but by no means get slowed down by the burden of a lot story, lore, and legacy. That is an unapologetic romp, positive to be loved by D&D devotees and newcomers alike. Merely put, this film is one wild experience you received’t wish to miss. 

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves was reviewed out of its World Premiere at SXSW 2023; it’s going to open in theaters nationwide on March 31.