Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves - Spoiler Review

The best thing about Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is the cast perfectly nailed their roles. After the first trailer I was little skeptical, but once other trailers came out the tone of the movie was set as a fun adventure film. There was another Dungeons & Dragons film released in 2000, but I never saw it as the reviews by both critics and audiences were terrible. The concept of a D&D movie is interesting, but the execution has always been a mystery to me. Dungeons and Dragons is a role-playing fantasy game that I was never sure if it could be translated into a film. I am not sure if it has yet because Honor Among Thieves is more like a medieval set fantasy-adventure film. The fantasy elements of the game are there, but I was expecting a real-world component seeing people playing the game. My vision of seeing both worlds being interwoven was how I pictured it, but despite my vision not being what the film was I still enjoyed myself immensely. The plot is simple, but the story is a little complex as actions shifts from location to location. While the location changes often felt like I was watching the last few seasons of Game of Thrones, it did keep the film from being boring. 

Honor Among Thieves stars Chris Pine as Edgin, Michelle Rodriguez as Holga, Justice Smith as Simon, Sophia Lillis as Doric, Rege-Jean Page as Xenk and Hugh Grant as Forge. Every single member of that cast was amazing in those roles, and I really think we need to see all of them again. The film was impressive on all fronts as nothing ever took me out of the film. The chemistry among the actors was top notch, and it was a strength of the film by everyone including Hugh Grant. The world we saw in the film came at a breakneck speed that left little time to learn more about this world. In my review of John Wick 4 I said that the world of John Wick is fertile ground to explore. I think Dungeons & Dragons has created a world that should also be explored in further depth. The best way I can describe D&D is that it is a fun movie to watch, with a charismatic cast. Chris Pine is starting to feel like one of the most underrated performers out there. Pine has breathed life into Marvel (Spider-Verse), DC (Wonder Woman) and Star Trek. Pine was the heart of the film, but his character was neither a sorcerer or a warrior. Pine was able to imbue so much into what is just an ordinary character, but yet despite his lack of skills and selfish nature we liked him. The only character who we never saw a flaw with is Xenk Yendar who was played with such confidence by Rege-Jean Page. Xenk was such an interesting character that I almost would consider watching Bridgerton just to see his performance. 


The film opens in a prison where Edgin and Holga are being given an audience with a panel to plead for early release. Edgin stalls waiting for one of the panel to arrive so he starts with to stall by telling them his story. Edgin was married, but he also became a member of the Harpers (a peacekeeping group). Edgin ran afoul of a red wizard who killed his wife, but the wife hid the daughter Kira. Edgin left to raise Kira alone is struggling until he meets Holga who was banished by her people for falling in love with an outsider who then left her. Holga and Edgin raise Kira while supporting themselves by pulling heists. Eventually Holga and Edgin form a team with Forge (con artist) and Simon (sorcerer), and they are hired by Sofina (played by Daisy Head) to rob from a Harpers fortress. Forge convinces Edgin that the risk is worth it as the Harpers possess a tablet that resurrect someone from the dead. The heist goes as planned until an alarm is sounded alerting the Harpers to the heist, but while Simon, Forge and Sofina escape Holga and Edgin are captured. Before being captured Edgin asks Forge to look after Kira until he can escape or is released. 

When Edgin is done his story the panel is about announce their decision when the last member arrives who is a giant eagle that Edgin and Holga use to escape (even thought he panel was going to release them). Edgin and Holga find out that Forge has become the Lord of Neverwinter during their incarceration so they head there to find Kira. They reunite with Kira and Forge, and then Forge denies that Edgin was after the resurrection tablet but rather a wealth one. Kira leaves angry, and then Forge reveals that he has grown fond of Kira and does not want his adopted daughter to leave. Sofina arrives revealing herself to be a red wizard, and that she and Forge are working together. Forge has them taken away to be quietly killed by his guards, but Holga takes out the guards and they escape. Edgin forms a plan to rob Forge during the High Sun Games where he can get the tablet, and prove to Kira that Forge lied. To complete the heist they will need a team so they find Simon who escaped from Sofina and Forge when they tried to kill him. They need a shapeshifter so Simon suggests a tiefling druid he has a crush on named Doric. Doric is not interested in the money, but she wants to hurt Forge who has been plundering the forests. 

The new team needs to find a helmet that removes enchantments so they can access the vault that contains the treasure. The helmet was last in possession of Holga's people, but that was a long time ago. Holga's brings them to a cemetery where soldiers who had the helmet last were buried there. Simon uses a token he possess to temporarily reawaken the dead to ask them five questions. They eventually find a corpse who tells them that a Thay paladin took the helmet from him. The Thay paladin is named Xenk Yendar and he is renowned for his heroic actions, though Edgin doesn't trust the Thay as they are where the red wizards come from. They locate Xenk and he explains that not all Thay are evil, and that the red wizards turned the people of Thay into an army of the dead. Xenk tells them that he hid the helmet in the underdark, and that he will help them retrieve it in order to defeat Sofina. They are able to retrieve the helmet by using a staff that Holga gave to her ex (played by Bradley Cooper) to open portals. Once they get the helmet Xenk bids them good luck on their quest, but Simon is unable to master the helmet forcing Edgin to come up with a new plan. 

The new plan will involve opening a portal inside the vault, but their plans are for not as it was a trap by Forge and Sofina to trap them. Sofina has another plan to turn the entire stadium full of people into a new army of the dead, and Forge is going to leave with Kira and all the loot. The band of thieves escapes the arena where they were forced into a battle, and they find Forge's boat (loaded with treasure) along with Kira. Edgin proves to Kira that he was not lying and Forge then holds a blade to Kira's throat in order to get his treasure. Kira gets free and Forge falls into the water as the boat sails away, but Sofina has brought the red death cloud over the stadium. Edgin sees this and realizes they have to help save people so they head back. The plan is to open a portal in the boat to an air balloon floating over the stadium. Simon will propel the balloon away from the stadium leaving a trail of treasure falling drawing people out of the stadium to follow the treasure. The plan works, and people are saved but Sofina goes after the troop. Sofina attacks but the team combines to stop her, Simon using the helmet to stop Sofina's time stop spell, Kira places a bracelet on Sofina that prevents her from casting spells and Doric beats her to death in owlbear form. Holga though is fatally hurt in the fight, and she dies of her wounds until Edgin uses the tablet to bring Holga back from the dead as the film ends with Forge now in the prison Holga and Edgin were in.


I had an absolute blast with the film, and I hope we get a sequel with the same cast as I think that film would be at least just as much fun. The fantasy world is filled with so many interesting books that there is so much material to make movies and shows with. The issue has been that these films require large CGI budgets, and the box office returns are not reliable enough to make serious investments in. Dungeons & Dragons is a middle ground project as it is a commonly known name, and they surrounded it with a great cast. The film was written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein who also wrote and directed Vacation and Game Night. While Vacation was not well received (I enjoy it), Game Night was well received by both critics and audiences. Game Night is a little similar to D&D in that they both feature action and comedy in almost equal measure. The one problem this film might have is that the name might turn off more casual movie goers who are not D&D fans. The film is very accessible to everyone, and the action and tone make it enjoyable for everyone.

The red wizard stuff was very interesting to me, and I hope that when we get sequels we see more of them. We never got a map so it is hard to know the length of time that passes throughout the movie, but judging by the vast differences in the look of places I would say this film takes place over quite a bit of time. It did feel very Game of Thrones for characters that use horses to traverse what appears to be vast distances in what seems like no time at all. It never bothered me in Game of Thrones, but it was noticeable at times, but I noticed it more in D&D. The switching in settings was jarring at times, but once the characters started interacting with one another I would forget about it and just smile. I really liked when Xenk showed up, and I was disappointed when he did not join the group for the heist. Since Xenk is a Thay, and given his tragic past with the red wizards he will have a bigger role in the sequel I keep talking about that we may never get. I would also like to learn more about the Harpers as they are an interesting group in this world, they are good guys, but outside of Edgin we never got to know any of them. The world of D&D was more interesting than I expected it to be, and despite all of the new lore I never found myself overly confused about what was happening.

I am going to give Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves an 8/10 with the pure entertainment I got from the film. Chris Pine is a movie star, and he shows it with his charismatic performance, and Rege-Jean Page shows that he might be a movie star in the making. Justice Smith was likeable as a sorcerer who lacks confidence in his abilities, and I got a lot of laughs from his reactions to things. Sophia Lillis was good as Doric, I did not recognize her from It. Doric was a cool character, but as an actor she lost screen time to her shape changing abilities. I thought Michelle Rodriguez was very good as Holga as we know from the Fast and Furious films that she can be tough, but here she also got to be vulnerable. Holga's story did deserve a flashback too, and I was shocked to see Bradley Cooper appear as Holga's former lover. I did think Hugh Grant is looking older now, but he plays such a good smug jerk that I kind of liked Forge in this film, and I want to see him again. I highly recommend seeing Honor Among Thieves, and I think the humor applies to all ages. While I do not think D&D is going to win any awards, but I am sure it will be very entertaining.   


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