Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Movie Review

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Paramount Pictures

Reviewed for FilmFactual.com by Karen Benardello

Directors: Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley

Writers: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley and Michael Gilio

Cast: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis and Hugh Grant

Opens: March 31, 2023

Screened at: Regal Union Square ScreenX, New York City, NY, 3/28/23

The financial alure of adapting acclaimed games into films that visually and emotionally dazzle on the big screen in theaters has long been a powerful driving force for movie studios. While many film adaptations of games ultimately fail to capture the charm of the original IP, the new fantasy heist feature, ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,’ ultimately proves to be a smart, engaging addition to the popular franchise.

‘Honor Among Thieves’ is based on the fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ which was first released almost 50 years ago, in 1974. Paramount Pictures is set to release the upcoming action comedy, which is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, in theaters this Friday, March 31. The feature was directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, who previously helmed the 2018 action comedy, ‘Game Night,’ which stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, together.

The directors also cowrote the screenplay for ‘Honor Among Thieves’ with Michael Gilio, and the trio based the script on a story the latter create with Chris McKay. Goldstein and Daley’s new screen adaptation of the ‘Dungeons and Dragon’ RPG is a reboot of, and has no connections to, the movie trilogy that was released between 2000 and 2012.

‘Honor Among Thieves’ follows hopeful leader Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), a bard and fallen member of the Harpers, and his best friend, the reserved Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), as they’re finishing the second year of their prison sentence. They’re being considered for pardon, so they must argue their case for the reason why they should be released in front of the prison’s council.

Edgin’s appeal for why he and Holga should be granted the pardon explains their backstory, including why they received their prison sentence. He shares with the council that leading up to their conviction, he was trying to protect his pre-teen daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) after his wife was murdered as a result of his work with the Harpers when their child was just a baby. He subsequently met and began working with Holga to commit petty theft in order to survive. However, their last heist went awry, which led them to being sent to prison.

After Edgin and Holga unexpectedly manage to leave the prison, they begin their trek to reunite with Kira and their friends in their home city of Neverwinter. However, the city they return to is drastically different from the one they remembered from two years ago. Their friend Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), whom Edgin asked to care for Kira in his absence, now rules the land.

As a result of his absence for the past two year, Kira doesn’t trust her father, as Forge convinces her that Edgin abandoned her to try to garner wealth on his own. Forge further proves to be a devious conman when it’s revealed that he’s still working with Sofina (Daisy Head), a Red Wizard of Thay, who collaborated with, and eventually betrayed, Edgin and Holga in the heist that led to their imprisonment two years ago.

Edgin can’t believe his fate, and suspects that more sinister forces are the reason for his misfortune in Neverwinter’s new environment. His determination to figure out what went wrong in the city is driven by his desire to regain his daughter’s trust.

Edgin also hopes he can revive Kira’s mother, whose tragic death still haunts him, with a rare magical relic, the Tablet of Reawakening. But the Tablet is locked up in a vault in the city, and he needs to find the Helmet of Disjunction to uncover it.

Along the way, Edgin and Holga recruit their friend Simon (Justice Smith), a sorcerer with little confidence in his abilities, and Doric (Sophia Lillis), a druid who hates humans, to help them in their mission. They also team up with the stoic noble Harper, Xenk Yendar (Regé-Jean Page), to locate the Helmet of Disjunction. Under Xenk’s guidance, Edgin, Holga, Simon and Doric garner the insight and confidence they need in order to garner a chance to defeat Forge and finally reunite with Kira.

Goldstein and Daley infuse ‘Honor Among Thieves’ with a creative story and fully developed and insightful character arcs that appeal to both dedicated fans of the RPG and new audiences to the franchise. The roguish schemer Edgin, who thrives on talking his way out of conflict, and the fearless Holga, who thrives on delivering stellar retorts, lead the ensemble cast of characters with amusing, light-hearted jokes. The enticing one-liners that Pine and Rodriguez effortlessly deliver help ease the tension of the anti-heroes’ determined nature to rescue Kira.

The lively, robust performances from the film’s two leads play well off each other, as they share light jokes at each other’s expenses. Pine and Rodriguez break the tensest moments with their teasing asides, even as Edgin and Holga unintentionally lead themselves and their team into danger. The actor and actress also create a stellar bond with the comedg’s supporting cast, particularly Smith, Lillis, Head and Page, as their characters grapple with their respective motivations and the obstacles they subsequently face.

‘Honor Among Thieves’ restores gamers’ faith and confidence in Hollywood’s vision of adapting RPGs like ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ into a big screen theatrical experience. The new movie proves to be an ingenious, engaging and must-see addition to the popular RPG franchise, as Goldstein and Daley crafted a creative story, fully developed characters, who were portrayed through standout performances by Pine and Rodriguez. The filmmakers proved that by remaining faithful to its gaming source material while also offering enough detailed backstory that newcomers to the franchise can also enjoy the fantasy action comedy, game adaptations can be endearingly successful.

Story: B+

Acting: A-

Technical: A-

Grade: A-

Fun Film Fact: The screening Film Factual attended at Regal Union Square in New York City was presented in ScreenX, a panoramic film format which presents movies with an expanded, 270-degree screens projected on the front and side walls in a theater.

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