Based on the tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has been hotly anticipated for quite some time. After a slew of disastrously bad movies, some believed that doing the source material justice was impossible. However, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein were tasked with trying, with the pair assuming the joint role of writer-directors.
Honor Among Thieves is set within the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, and tells the original story of the bard Edgin (Chris Pine) and his quest to be reunited with his daughter. Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, and Hugh Grant all join Pine in starring roles, with Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton, The Gray Man), Daisy Head (Guilt, Shadow and Bone), and Chloe Coleman (65) also appearing.
As a fantasy epic, there are countless pitfalls that D&D:HAT needed to avoid. Too much or too little CGI could have proved its undoing. A balance between high stakes and appropriate levity was a must. It also needed to be true to the source material without alienating prospective newcomers. Quite the tall order, indeed.
Honor Among Thieves Is Larger Than Life, But Perfectly Grounded By Its Comedy
From its very first scene, Honor Among Thieves deftly mingles fantasy with light comedy. It’s funny, but it doesn’t need to be: its story is appropriately solid without ever weighing down the fun. In terms of tone, D&D:HAT manages to strike exactly the right chord with hardly so much as a leather-booted toe out of place.
CGI is understandably present throughout, but the visual effects are all achieved in a way that feels organic to the world. Between this and the sound comedic chemistry of the film’s varied cast, Honor Among Thieves manages to carry off one of the most enjoyable fantasy narratives in years, successfully building a world that feels exciting and lived-in. It’s magical, but it also feels grounded by the personalities of its characters.
In many ways, it’s a film that strikes a perfect balance. It’s got comedy, action, fantasy, drama, and even a heist. There’s something to love for audiences of all ages, but with that comes the film’s only real issue: it’s predictable.
D&D:HAT’s Predictable Plot Is A Little Disappointing But Necessary
Much of Honor Among Thieves’ plot was telegraphed from the start, dropping heavy-handed hints as to exactly what was going to happen. It seems as though the effort put into making the journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible was prioritized over narrative innovation. And, though it would be easy to criticize, this is actually the right decision. Ultimately, a predictable ending does nothing to undermine how consistently fun the film is.
The best example of this as a strength comes from the chemistry between the film’s cast. With an ensemble of Hollywood talent spanning multiple generations, there’s a real mixed bag of abilities on display. Michelle Rodriguez brings stone-faced badassery, while Chris Pine brings smouldering self-assuredness. Justice Smith channels a more anxious energy, while Sophia Lillis is the idealistic cynic. Regé-Jean Page chews up the scenery as a chronically serious paladin, and Hugh Grant makes skin crawl with his smarmy brand of sleaze. In other words, there’s not a performance out of place.
It might channel a little of the MCU’s mass appeal, but with such clear vision of purpose, that’s hardly a negative. Honor Among Thieves feels fresh and chaotic in all the right ways, marking the start of a promising new franchise. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun and innovative enough to smooth over its minor wrinkles.
Summary: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves might take the easy road, but it’s all the better for it. It’s a fantasy blockbuster like no other, with countless small moments of comedy weaved into the foundations of an exciting new franchise.
Highlight: Regé-Jean Page’s scenes stand out as Honor Among Thieves‘ finest moments. The balance of high fantasy and subtle comedy is spot on, and the film feels worse off for his all-too-brief role.