Spoilers will use Expeditious Retreat.
Even if you have lived all your life under a rock, there’s a chance you have heard about Dungeons & Dragons. You might have even played a video game that has some role-playing in it. The truth is, you’ll be somewhat familiar with the lore even if you’ve never heard of it. It’s got enough history behind it that the worldbuilding has already been covered a hundred times. If you are familiar with it, I don’t think I need to convince you. Everyone roll initiative.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) is directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. They both wrote the screenplay with Michael Gilio. The story follows bard Edgin (Chris Pine) and his barbarian associate Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) as they’ve been betrayed and left behind to rot in prison. After a daring escape, they manage to form a ragtag party joined by half-elf sorcerer Simon (Justice Smith) and tiefling druid Doric (Sophia Lillis). Together they aim to bring down former associate and betrayer Forge (Hugh Grant), a rogue conman who has managed to rise himself to the obtain the seat of Lord of the city of Neverwinter. Forge has also allied himself with a mysterious wizard named Sofina (Daisy Head) and worse of all, has turned Edgin’s daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) against him.
It’s not a complex story, and that works fine for this film. The amount of magical lore in this world would seem like a hard sell but it’s made a lot more accessible employing humour, parody and a subtle subversion of the tropes that we’ve seen in countless epics. The result is a film that feels more like a fun adventure, not to take too seriously but recognizes the different laws and rules of the game. Now, before you come for my hide, it does play up and bend a few things for entertainment and dramatic license. It also has several easter eggs for the more advanced players to recognize and cheer.
Yes, it works. Most important, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is not afraid to poke fun at its own rules. It has its flaws, sometimes filling us with too much exposition, relying on the usual voiceover narration or allowing us to see the outcome a mile away. Fortunately, it always has something entertaining to watch while we wait for the movie to catch up. The main cast performance is more than decent. Specially of note is Justice Smith who plays Simon and Regé-Jean Page in the quirky role of paladin Xenk Yendar.
Highly recommended with popcorn. Yes, this is an action comedy, but with enough entertainment value and hidden references for all D&D enthusiasts to find. I think even casual audiences will have a good time. Worth at least a watch with several bonus watches per each additional easter egg you missed.
That will do for now.