Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023): A Solid Roll of the D20

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Game Night, Vacation) and stars Chris Pine (Wonder Woman, Star Trek), Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and the Furious, Widows), Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton, The Gray Man), Justice Smith (Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), Sophia Lillis (It, Gretel & Hansel), and Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary). This is film is inspired by the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons and follows four individuals who join forces and embark on a quest to find a lost relic.

I have never played Dungeons & Dragons. I know relatives who have previously partaken in the game in their youth, I have friends who enjoy the game, and I am well aware of certain aspects of it in our current culture. That said, I have never sat down to play it. Despite this notion, I nevertheless had some excitement for “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” Chris Pine is a charming actor, the trailers looked promising, and I thought this could be an enjoyable, lighthearted time. Now that I have seen the movie, I can confirm that is exactly what I got. No more, no less.

This movie does not reinvent the cinematic wheel, nor does it flatten any cinematic tires. It is just a plain good time that feels reminiscent of a modern Marvel movie if it had a baby with “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Game Night.” This comparison should not surprise me, nor some other people for that matter. After all, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who in addition to directing this movie, also wrote the screenplay. If you seen “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” you have these two to partially thank. After all, they wrote that screenplay too, which had its fair share of wit and charm. Like “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” this film is a quickly-paced quest through outlandish, attractive environments with four main cast members. As for the “Game Night” comparison, this film, albeit in a much different manner, revolves around a game played amongst friends. For “Game Night” it is a murder mystery, while “Dungeons & Dragons” takes inspiration from source material of the same name. Additionally, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein directed both films.

This movie is led by Chris Pine (center left), who in addition to having an advantage as to being one of the chosen few talented, hunky, lightly-colored-haired dudes named Chris in Hollywood, is exactly the kind of star a movie like this needed. Sure, on the surface, there is the name recognition, but beyond that, Pine masterfully executes some of the movie’s standout humor. He has a presence to him, much like Chris Hemsworth, where he simply induces charm just by letting himself be in front of the camera and utter a few magic words. If “Wonder Woman” has shown anything, Chris Pine can be funny. If “Dungeons & Dragons” has shown anything, Chris Pine can be very funny. There are some great lines out of Pine in this film. One of my particular favorite moments involving his character is, believe it or not, in the trailer. He is talking about one of his strengths, specifically making plans. And if the plan fails, he comes up with a new one, and the same thing would happen there if that backup plan does not work out. Therefore, Doric (Sophia Lillis), a tiefling druid, pipes in and says, “So you make plans that fail?”. Nothing like savagery to lighten the mood.

My favorite scene in “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” takes place about a third of the way in, where we have already established our main cast, and they have started their quest. One of their stops is a cemetery. Courtesy of wizard Simon Aumar (Justice Smith), the ensemble takes the moments they have to speak to the dead to help them find out what they need to know. Not only is it an effective way to deliver exposition, but some of the lines are hilarious. Every inkling of this scene is gold. I found myself occasionally laughing like a maniac during this portion of the film.

That said, this film, as mentioned before, is not the most revolutionary addition to the halls of cinematic history. Although given the track record of adapting D&D, this is actually a pleasant surprise of a win given how the IP was adapted before in 2000 and that movie currently has a 9% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. Although despite this film being a victory for those who made it and the audience, it is probably not going to be nominated for any Oscars. The look of the film is passable, but I have seen better. There are also some predictable moments, but at the same time, the script, based on what was brought to screen, never had any real significant flaws that stood out, so I can forgive some predictability here and there.

Although what I did not predict is for some of the camerawork to stand out as much as it does. This should not have been a huge surprise given this is the duo who did “Game Night,” but there are one or two, extended takes that took my breath away. Much like “Game Night’s” egg-throwing extended take, there is a scene early on where we see Doric’s abilities in the spotlight that had my attention. If I were to watch some behind the scenes on the movie, that is one of the things I would like to see how they did.

This is the best compliment I can give to “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” As cool of a concept as I find Dungeons & Dragons to be, I have never played the game because I do not know what time I have, who to play with, and where to start. After seeing this movie, those concerns have not been resolved. That said, I was not expecting them to be. Although having never played the game, I found this movie quite entertaining. I never felt lost. And as a movie, it was worth my time. It is one thing for someone to say that they are a D&D aficionado and say they love this movie. This might not always be the case, but there is some potential predisposal in play. If you can take a D&D know-it-nothing and give them a great cinematic experience, that’s another thing. That is what this movie did. I recommend this movie for those who enjoy playing D&D and even those who have shied away from the game. D&D fans may be attracted by the preexisiting IP, but they might as well stay for the lighthearted and thumbs up-worthy adventure.

In the end, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is a magical, finely realized blast of an adventure. I had a great time with it, and I would definitely recommend seeing this by yourself or with friends and family. As I have said, there is a hint of a “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”-like flair in this film, so if you like that film or its sequel, “The Next Level,” this could be another fun film to add to your watchlist. The characters are likable. The story is simple but effective. The humor stands out. And as someone who has never played D&D, I never felt alienated. I had a great time with “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” and I have a feeling some of you reading this will do the same. I am going to give “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” a 7/10.

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! As much as I recommend “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” it is extremely likely going to get blue shelled at the box office this weekend by possibly the most prominent video game-based project in cinematic history, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” By the way, that is going to be my next review! Stay tuned! Speaking of “Super Mario Bros.,” I will also soon be reviewing the 1993 “Super Mario Bros.” film, which is probably going to be more fun for you guys than it is for me… If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played D&D? What did you do while playing the game? Or, if you are playing it, what are you doing now? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!


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