‘D&D: Honor among thieves’: Fantasy film appeals to players and peasants alike



Michelle Rodriguez (Left) and Chris Pine star in John Francis Daley’s latest fantasy film.

Once upon a time, liking Dungeons & Dragons may have been the reason someone stole your lunch money. Now, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves” has friends and foes alike voluntarily throwing money at a movie ticket to see the latest fantasy comedy blockbuster — and for good reason. 

The film released on March 31 and quickly rolled a natural 20 in charisma on audiences, as the movie currently boasts a 94% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The general plot follows our ragtag band misfits on their quest to re-steal a magical relic and defeat the villainous Red Wizard holding it. Along the way, themes of morality, family and grief cast a spell as you fall in love, not just with Regé-Jean Page’s slow-motion fight scenes, but also with the inherent heart the movie holds. 

The tabletop role-playing game published in 1974, once synonymous with geeks, saw a change of heart in recent years as hipsters and “Stranger Things” super-fans picked up 20-sided dice to try their hand at the notorious game. With such a drastic shift in perspective on this facet of gaming culture, Hollywood was bound to capitalize on the franchise sooner rather than later. Yet, they somehow did it right and crafted a movie for everyone to enjoy, no matter their character level. 

While the lighthearted humor landed perfectly, with just enough silliness and game references to draw viewers in for more, the funniest part was simply Hugh Grant’s presence. In truth, it is hard to be entirely immersed in a movie about Dungeons & Dragons when every few scenes the BAFTA-nominated actor with a decades long career pops up, boasting random dialogue about the state of his kingdom and the questionable adviser at his side. This tongue-in-cheek attitude though is exactly what makes it such an enjoyable film. There is no grave seriousness to hinder the movie but rather a complete acknowledgement of the source material’s ridiculousness and a genuine love for what they have done with it. 

The chemistry between Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez helps propel the movie past simple fantasy tropes and into those of a buddy-cop movie. While the writers could have easily inserted an unnecessary romance subplot for the duo, they thankfully refrained. Instead, the pair and their makeshift family create a more meaningful dynamic that ups the stakes of their quest and of the audiences’ interest. Plus, their perfecting of the brain and brawn trope is hilarious to watch in action. 

The less than subtle message about losing family and subsequently finding a new one helps add depth to an otherwise goofy movie. Pine’s character arc takes us through his battle with grief over losing his wife and daughter alongside his physical battles against wizards and castle guards. The ending is overly predictable, but the moments of vulnerability from our adventurers help humanize the fantasy and make for a satisfying watch. 

Although an entirely wonderful popcorn-flick, the movie fell short in terms of predictable storylines and occasional cringy dialogue. However, the short-comings hardly outweigh the enjoyment and it is easy to gloss over a few lines the writers should have reconsidered. Especially when you are already accepting the fight scenes against obese dragons and Justice Smith’s awful magic skills. You know, all of the other totally realistic and logical parts of the movie. 

The movie takes the disbelief of viewers and runs with it, taking you to new levels of absurdity to create an enjoyable experience for any player or movie-goer. “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” knows exactly what it is without trying to rewrite its cultural stigma. It is hard to make the game this palatable on-screen for a large scale audience, yet it succeeds through innocent laughs and heartfelt connections.