New Dungeon and Dragons Movie is the Comedic, Exhilarating Found-Family Flick the Franchise Deserves

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WRITTEN BY: Sidney Rochnik

Disclaimer: This writer was invited to go to an early screening of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves by a Paramount publicist in exchange for writing this review. There are no spoilers in this review. 

As an annoying nerd who has consumed Dungeons and Dragons content constantly for a third of her life, the experience of Dungeon and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was at once both nothing like I thought the medium would choose to adapt, and the purest essence of a two-hour D&D game with your friends made into film. Minus the extra four hours that would normally be reserved for acting out combat in real life, of course. And I mean this with the utmost compliments. 

Honor Among Thieves is a fantasy action-comedy set in the Wizards of the Coasts’ very own world of the Forgotten Realms. It stars four main party members, each armed with the skills and qualities unique to the power system of D&D, who all team up to carry out a heist due to the razor thin thread that is their individual motivations and character arcs dragging them all together. Like a proper D&D party! 

For those already well-initiated in this world, there are plenty of details and references to gush about to your friends mid-action scene. If I were to recount how many times I got lost in my own head just in my first viewing theorizing about each character’s subclass, their levels, what spell that just was, — oh my god that’s a baby Tabaxi — and what type of dragon is that, and woah does she have the tavern brawler feat — well, then this review would be completely inaccessible to those already hesitating about diving into a D&D product. 

For that more general audience, let me reassure you that the movie does not demand much of your tabletop role-playing game knowledge. There’s magic, lords, a multitude of different races, and sets in beautiful Icelandic backdrops: all easy for the typical fantasy enjoyer to digest. It mercifully allows you to take as much interest in the world as you desire, never slowing down the pace or throwing in a confused point-of-view character to be fed exposition through. 

The main characters are well supported in their excellent script by an equally talented cast: Chris Pine as the charismatic, low-intellect bard, Michelle Rodriguez as the strong, low-intellect barbarian, Sophia Lillis as the wise, low-intellect (there’s a difference!) druid, and Justice Smith as their little sorcerer friend. (Smith’s character is also not smart, but I honestly can’t think of what traditional D&D statistic he does excel in to balance that out.)  

As each of these characters explore their flaws, insecurities, and ways of viewing the world together, while planning a multi-stepped heist, I think it’s impossible not to feel endeared and connected to at least one of their journeys. Or at the very least, laugh out loud at their realistic, snappy banter or gasp at the rapid, dynamic action of their various thrilling fights.  

By the end of the movie in my theater, people cheered at what I can only describe as this movie’s “Hulk Smash” moment, and cried out during its emotional climax. I’ll be the first person man enough to admit, I did tear up a little at the nerdy roleplay game movie. It has surprisingly well-done themes of mourning and a fresh look on what a family is and how we love. I couldn’t be happier with this decision; I think every D&D player knows how important found family is in this game. 

If there’s one thing I’d like to write specifically on to exemplify this, it is the relationship between the male and female lead. The bard, Edgin Darvis, and the barbarian, Holga Kilgore, (yes, the names are suitably bizarre for its setting) tell you from the start they are like siblings, unrelated but as close as two people can be. They raise a child together, as Edgin lost his wife when their baby was young, save each other’s lives constantly, are clearly two very attractive people, and never once do they hold anything than platonic love for each other. Highlighting the importance of your friends as family, even over family or lovers at times, is a wonderfully realistic and hard-hitting way to interpret what a D&D movie would be about. And it is just refreshing to see a non-related male-female friendship in media, as I’m sure many outside of the community will also agree. 

I strongly recommend this movie to just about anyone interested in spending an afternoon with light-hearted comedy and immersed in a fantasy world. Despite the PG-13 rating, I could see whole families in my theater, along with groups of friends from teenagers to adults.  

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves releases in the United States in theaters on March 31. 


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