Nerds are on a roll with successful movie and television adaptations of beloved properties coming out of the woodwork as of late, with the D&D franchise finally getting the live-action treatment it deserves!
Set in The Forgotten Realm, a place where magic and sorcery and fantastical beasts are an everyday part of life, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves follows a bard, Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), a barbarian, Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez), a sorcerer, Simon Aumar (Justice Smith), and a druid named Doric (Sophia Lillis), as they band together to expose the evil machinations of the rogue-turned-wrongful-ruler of The Realms named Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant). But not everything is as easy as it seems, as when it’s learned that Edgin’s estranged daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman), has been under the care of Forge ever since Edgin and Holga were imprisoned after a botched attempt at stealing a plot-important artifact known as the Table of Reawakening, it isn’t long before this film becomes a story about far more than the vanquishing dragons and diving into a few dungeons, but about finding your place in life, rekindling familial bonds, realizing your full potential, and of course, ransacking a few treasure-filled rooms for good measure.
Believe it or not, I haven’t dabbled in D&D as much as I probably should have (being as chock-full of nerdiness as I am), yet after experiencing the film adaptation of this decades-old tabletop franchise, you can officially color me interested again. Unlike D&D’s first foray into Hollywood, Honor Among Thieves clears the relatively low bar set by its own movie adaptations and any number of similar nerd films that came before it by not only successfully bringing to life a fantasy world unlike any other (with the proper budget and special effects to match, no less) but also by giving fans memorable characters and plot lines they can latch onto outside of the awesomeness that is seeing the titular dungeons and dragons up on the big screen.
Full of epic adventure, surprisingly stellar action, and a sense of humor that does wonders to sell this film as a legitimate piece of entertainment beyond the confines of its nerd IP, Honor Among Thieves excels when focusing on its well-cast roster of characters (Chris Pine is a national treasure btw) that for once, act less like one-note heroes playing around in an epic fantasy world and more about them and their personal struggles as living breathing people… while also playing around in an epic fantasy world. And although I highly enjoyed nearly everything I saw here, it can’t be denied this film plays things a bit by the numbers in terms of how its mostly average story plays out, even with the added benefit of having filmmakers who are willing to take the time to explore the emotional stakes of characters that audiences should have no problem attaching themselves to; something movies like this usually don’t bother with incorporating at all. Throw in the fact that some parts of the film don’t always stick the landing when it comes to how scenes and sequences are structured and put together on a narrative level — i.e. some progression of events comes way too easy in an attempt to keep the pacing at a steady clip — and this film ultimately turns out to be one of the better nerd adaptations out there, even with its final score suffering due to some slightly below average moments.
D&D is one of the greatest games ever conceived for the nerd community, so it’s good to know its spirit lives on in a film that could have turned out just as bad as the last time Hollywood tried and failed at adapting the source material. Not only is this movie better than expected, but with some solid action, stellar casting, fun world-building, and an emotional throughline that keeps the heart of this film beating at all times, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves nails its latest transition into live-action and effectively lays the groundwork for a continuing franchise that deserves at least a sequel or two.