Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) is an adventure/fantasy film written and directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, who have been co-writing and co-directing films together regularly since 2015, including Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). The 136-minute film is a reboot of the 2000 film of the same name, starring Jeremy Irons and Marlon Wayans, which has been a monumental failure and has discouraged many attempts to adapt the franchise to the cinema since. This time, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) is an instant success and is in first place at the Box Office on the first day of its release.
An inspiring and classic quest
Edgin (Chris Pine), young and dashing, enlists in the Minstrels’ Guild, friendly bandits who, like Robin Hood, engage in various activities to redistribute wealth to the people and do good. One day, his activities lead the Red Wizards to his door, which results in the murder of his wife. Now alone with his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman), he lives recluse and poor until he meets Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), with whom he commits again to various criminal activities allowing him to support himself and his daughter.
Edgin and his band of criminal adventurers live as a small, close-knit family until Forge (Hugh Grant) invites them to take part in a final quest, supposed to bring them fame and wealth that allows them to live comfortably forever, but also to obtain a magic tablet capable of bringing a deceased person back to life. Seeing this as an opportunity to bring Kira’s mother back, Edgin embarks on this quest head first and is deceived by Forge, who is secretly working with the Red Wizards. Imprisoned and then released, Edgin gathers his old band of adventurers and enlists the talents of Doric (Sophia Lillis), a druidess with her own thirst for revenge, and now seeks to find her daughter and prevent Forge and the Red Wizards from extending their rule over the kingdom.
What is Dungeons & Dragons?
Dungeons & Dragons was created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and has become one of the most popular role-playing games in the world, having since gone through several adaptations into movies, TV series, video games, etc.
It is a fantasy role-playing game where players create imaginary characters and immerse themselves in a fantasy world filled with magic, mythical creatures and epic quests. They cooperate to solve puzzles, fight monsters and complete missions. Players depend on their imagination and ability to improvise to succeed in their journey. To learn more, see our article entitled Dungeons & Dragons summary in 6 points.
An Incredible Cast
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor of Thieves stars Chris Pine (Star Trek, Into The Woods) as Edgin the Bard, Michelle Rodriguez (Fast and Furious, Avatar) as Holga the Barbarian, Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu, Jurassic World) as Simon the Sorcerer, and Sophia Lillis (IT, Sharp Objects) as Doric the Druidess. Hugh Grant, whose name is well established, plays Forge Fitzwilliam, a power-hungry rogue, while Daisy Head (Underworld, Shadow & Bone) accompanies him, camped in her role of Sofina the red witch. Regé-Jean Page, star of the hit series Bridgerton, plays the impassive paladin Xenk Yendar, a character who has managed to make the audience laugh in the movie theatre many times. And a special mention to Bradley Cooper, who makes a fun cameo.
As much as an all-star cast can excite many people, the majority of Dungeons & Dragons fans were skeptical: we should not forget Hollywood’s reputation for adapting beloved games into really bad movies. However, the roles were finally camped wonderfully and the spirit reminiscent of a good old game of Dungeons & Dragons was there, as well as the rules, spells and even some places and characters of the universe of Forgotten Realms.
Fans of role-playing games, videographers Sébastien Rassiat and Frédéric Molas (Joueur du Grenier) as well as streamer Alphacast all dub secondary characters in the French version of the film, lending their voices respectively to Stanhard, Toke and Sven.
The Good Moves
The film has something to charm seasoned fans as well as people who know nothing about Dungeons & Dragons: to the less sharp eye, the film seems simply to present a universe of Medieval Fantasy and colorful characters, all common things in Hollywood popular culture. However, more sophisticated players will recognize the spells used, the references to the quests of the Forgotten Realms, the allusion to certain places and characters of this universe (including Helminster and Baldur’s Gate), the good and bad dice rolls as well as the constraints of the game observed by the characters. The audience can easily imagine the players behind each character, see them make risky decisions, miss a roll of the dice, or undertake slightly ridiculous improvised dialogue. These elements enrich the already successful scenario for fans, without unnecessarily weighing down the film for those who are not familiar with the game.
Young audiences will also find something for themselves, with epic battle scenes, stunning special effects and extremely endearing characters, as well as a bittersweet scene in which adventurers try to escape an obese dragon. It’s clear that attention to detail was paid and that Goldstein and Daley were keen to delight fans and treat the franchise with respect and thoroughness. They also wrote to Wizards of The Coast to ask them for a list of the 30 creatures most loved by fans, to integrate content that would delight players (this is what led them to integrate an owlbear, gelatinous cubes and a mimic in the scenario).
Given the phenomenal success of the film and the attachment of the actors to their respective roles, we can expect a possible sequel, since the end of the film is open and foreshadows new adventures. Goldstein and Daley are excited to produce a sequel. In the next scenario, they would like to be able to level up the characters in order to bring a new dimension and new skills to the heroes. They also mention wanting to show new places, and maybe even get out of Forgotten Realms to explore other universes. A must see!
The film is full of humor, twists, vulnerability and super interesting characters. More than anything, the actors, directors and audience seemed to have a tremendous amount of fun at all stages of the film’s production and viewing. The spirit of the Dungeons & Dragons game lives well in this feature film, which is sure to delight the youngest and make the oldest fall back into childhood. It’s not destined to become a cinematic historical classic, but it’s a successful tribute and a good piece of entertainment. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has succeeded where other films inspired by the franchise have failed, and for that, we believe it deserves a place in the hearts of fans and new RPG insiders. It won’t disappoint you, guaranteed!
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