REVIEW: “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” falls short in an adaptation of the role-playing game


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Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves while entertaining, lacked an ability to draw in audiences emotionally.

“Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is the latest in a long line of less-than-notable attempts to adapt the classic tabletop role-playing game. The movie was released in theaters on March 31 and follows the rise of Dungeons and Dragons in popular culture. From television shows like “Stranger Things” that build the game into their plots, to actual play shows that use D&D as a storytelling medium, like “Critical Role” and “The Adventure Zone,” there is more mainstream D&D content than ever. “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” has big Boots of Elvenkind to fill and leaves audiences with a lackluster impression. 

“Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” opens with Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) and Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) in prison after a failed heist. As they plead for freedom, Edgin explains the events that lead to their capture, including the death of his wife at the hands of the Red Wizards, and a failed attempt to steal a tablet to bring her back to life. Edgin and Holga escape and track down Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), one of their old companions who is now the lord of Neverwinter. 

Forge has been looking after Edgin’s daughter with the help of the Red Wizard Sofina (Daisy Head), but when Edgin tries to explain their situation and have a happy reunion, he finds that Forge has turned his daughter against him. Forge then turns Edgin and Holga over to the authorities. The pair flee and turn their sights on stealing the tablet and getting Edgin’s daughter back with the help of their past ally Simon Aumar, a mediocre sorcerer played by actor Justice Smith, and Doric, played by actress Sophia Lillis. 

“Honor Among Thieves” offers viewers a tour of the Forgotten Realms, the main canonical D&D setting. It was entertaining but not spectacular. While funny and engaging, the film failed to deliver anything that would truly draw audiences in emotionally. 

The film is at its best when showcasing the hijinks of the party. Numerous scenes feel straight from the aspects of high-stakes hilarity that characterize a game of D&D. The movie is in line with classic adventure movies that D&D draws influence from. When the party descended into the Underdark to retrieve the Helm of Disjunction, the high-stakes fights and puzzles felt pulled from “The Goonies,” or similar adventure comedy that does not bore the viewer.

By following the tropes of the genre closely, the film’s plot becomes predictable. Even Holga’s death and Edgin’s split-second decision to use the table to bring her back to life feels tiresome and expected, especially once the viewer realizes her role as a mother to Edgin’s daughter. While the film shines in its lighthearted scenes, many of the emotional moments fall flat. 

The death of Edgin’s wife at the hands of the Red Wizard has the same cheerful presentation as the jokes interspersing Edgin’s account of the events. The tone problem plagues the film’s dramatic moments as well, as the final battle with Sofina feels predictable and low-stakes. “Honor Among Thieves” struggles to fully shift tones and effectively portray moments that could have been legitimately emotional. Thus, scenes that could have been impactful lack emotional depth.

The cast of characters in “Honor Among Thieves” feel like they could be pulled from someone’s home game, rounding out the world. Grant’s portrayal of Forge, for example, is engaging, perfectly encapsulating Forge’s slimy and boisterous tendencies. While the various characters of the main party are interesting, none of them stand out as compelling. 

Edgin, the film’s main hero, is lacking in emotional depth despite his detailed backstory. Similarly, Head’s portrayal of Sofina shows no overarching motivations or personality beyond being a stock evil wizard. Once Forge is out of the picture, the film loses any kind of compelling personal conflict. 

“Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” has the hard job of being both a movie and an adaptation of a fan-favorite tabletop role-playing game. While following the tropes and setup of the genre, the film fails to capture the feeling of playing D&D or listening to others play. Though enjoyable, the film lacks the spark of fan-made D&D content. 

While steeped in the lore of the Forgotten Realms and carrying a structure that parallels a D&D campaign, “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” lacks the uniqueness and creativity that often comes with D&D. The film’s release comes hot off the tails of a licensing controversy by Wizards of the Coast that targeted similar fan-made projects, making its lackluster rendition more annoying. If one wants a fun and lighthearted movie set in the Forgotten Realms, watch “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” If one wants something that captures the magic of tabletop role-playing games, watch an actual play show.