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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Review

GP Rating

Last night was the UK premiere of a film I’ve been waiting to see since talks began in 2013 and to say I was apprehensive was an understatement. The last D&D film wasn’t exactly great and Hollywood doesn’t have a great record of sticking to the source material. So with notebook in hand I walked into a film and to quote a fellow Dungeon Master “Take a chance, roll the dice” and lets Roll Initiative with Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

The film is set in the “Forgotten realms” or to most of us it’s just called “The Realms” and tells the story of a group of adventures looking to “acquire” a long lost relic, but find themselves running afoul of the wrong people…

On top of this each character has a well-known class:

  • Chris Pine as Edgin Darvis, a human bard and former member of the Harpers. 
  • Michelle Rodriguez as Holga Kilgore, a human barbarian who was exiled from the Uthgardt Elk Tribe.
  • Justice Smith as Simon Aumar, a wild magic half human sorcerer who is the descendent of Elminster Aumar, a notable wizard.
  • Regé-Jean Page as Xenk Yendar, a human paladin who narrowly escaped the lich Szass Tam’s “rise to power” in Thay and as a result, “ages more slowly than a normal human”.
  • Sophia Lillis as Doric, a tiefling druid raised in the Neverwinter Wood by a wood elf enclave. She is a member of the Emerald Enclave and has organized a resistance against the Lord of Neverwinter who targeted the forest “for its resources”.
  • Hugh Grant as Forge Fitzwilliam, a human rogue.
  • Daisy Head as Sofina, a Red Wizard of Thay with a focus in necromancy and “ties to Thay’s tyrannical magocracy”.

So far, so D&D. And indeed watching the film it seemed to hit the TTRPG marks really well. to the point that you can follow the rolls as the party move through the film as if it was a party playing along on the tabletop. I found myself commenting a few times through the duration of the film “check for traps” “stealth check” “perception check” and of course specific character classes doing what they do…. barbarians, am I right?! which I thoroughly enjoyed. Watching Doric use her class feature to wild shape multiple times and then Polymorphing into an OWLBEAR! Was just pure D&D delight. Simon uses some fan-favourite spells as well which include Shield, Magic Missle and Pulse wave; While Sofina uses Misty step and Lightning bolt with ease.

One spell that was used that made the “Critter” in me clap and jump for joy was seeing the use of “Bigbys hand”, a spell often used by the Gnome Bard Scanlan Shorthalt of Critical Role group Vox Machina.

There’s plenty of heads-up details in this TTRPG adaptation that breaths character beyond just its special effects. Although the monster designs were straight out of a monster’s manual, especially on a chonky red dragon named Themberchaud that garnered a lot of laughs from the audience, the Characters themselves did seems slightly pre gened and left little to be attached to, character tropes are abundant coming with some dread, loss or a reason to prove themselves etc which is a general thing in DnD when creating a character.

They often use specified D&D terms to discuss spellcasting such as attuning, names that only players of D&D would know are thrown about like Mordenkainen, even using components and verbal incantations when casting spells, when rolls fail on them you can see enemies taking advantage of those “concentration checks” during fights. There’s one joke made about the “arbitrary limitations” of a certain spell that was used and got a lot of laughs.

When Honor Among Thieves utilises its tabletop source material, it becomes a D&D film that far surpasses the abysmal 2001 venture. Though Doric’s tiefling design is rather plain. I was expecting her to be red or blue or even purple, unfortunately, it only goes as far as horns and a tail. This being said we got to see other favourites like Mimics, Dragonborns, Tabaxis, Displacer beasts and of course Gelatinous cubes. The visuals were great and the wildshapes were clean, the use of cinematography especially for a fantasy realm was beautiful and was accompanied well with a soundtrack that would be more than welcome in a campaign setting in your own Dungeon.

Oh and if you’re a fan of the original animated series, you are definitely in for a treat. Aswell as a few cameos from the guys at Critical Role.

Was it perfect? No, being somewhat predictable and the characters not having a lot of depth did take away from it a bit BUT I did thoroughly enjoy it. Only time will tell if this much-evolved Gygaxian outing was indeed a Critical hit or a Natural 20?

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joshkingofgeeks
joshkingofgeeks
Journalist, PR, father all round King of Geeks. "Hail to the king!"

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Last night was the UK premiere of a film I’ve been waiting to see since talks began in 2013 and to say I was apprehensive was an understatement. The last D&D film wasn't exactly great and Hollywood doesn't have a great record of sticking...Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Review