Dungeons and Despots

“Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” delivers a critical hit

Marissa Getschman, Arts and Entainment Editor

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
2h 14m
Rating: 9.5/10

“Dungeons and Dragons” is all about campy story-telling filled with quirky yet lovable characters and luck, be it good or bad. A film set within the game would be nothing to the fans if the bare essentials didn’t shine through. “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is an enthralling film with fun characters, settings and effects all tied together with an entertaining script and story line. 

Paramount Pictures

The characters all have a clear common goal throughout the film–to stop the evil sorceress Sofina (Daisy Head) and her apparent master, Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant). In true D&D fashion, the roll of the die cast by the characters is practically palpable. Though never seen, the audience can visualize players controlling the on-screen characters and rolling dice to decide their luck and skill throughout the film. Their ability to actually stop Forge and Sofina depends entirely on the luck of the roll and the will of the Dungeon Master who one can only assume manifests as the film’s directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. 

Though predictable in nature, the storyline is engaging and kept alive throughout the film thanks to the band of characters met along the road. Chris Pine plays Edgin Darvis, a human bard and the apparent leader of the lead party of misfits. He balances comedy with strife and performs brilliantly alongside Michelle Rodrigues as the human barbarian, Holga Killgore. She is the muscle of the group but still manages to carry her own in heart. The two mesh and create a believable sibling-like relationship that is beyond entertaining to watch. 

Sophia Lillis as the tiefling druid, Doric and Justice Smith as the half-elf sorcerer, Simon Aumor make up the younger members of the party alongside Chloe Coleman as Edgin’s daughter, Kira. Doric fits the ‘magical race who doesn’t trust humans’ trope and plays beautifully against Simon who fits the ‘heart of gold with no self-esteem’ trope. Much of the plot stems from Doric’s distrust and Simon’s inexperience. Then there’s Kira, who doesn’t get much screen time, but plays an important role as the party’s purpose after being held as a willing (AKA manipulated and unaware) hostage from her father by Forge. 

Regé-Jean Page also makes an appearance as the human paladin NPC, Xenk Yendar. The calm and collected hero holds the same Harper position that used to be Edgins job and purpose in life. Having lost the love of his life and breaking his pledge to the Harpers, Edgin immediately resents Xenk simply for being what he could not handle. Stubborn charisma meets stoic heroism and the dialogue that results earns a respectable amount of audience laughter. 

The beautifully written characters would be lost if the creative team didn’t supply a gorgeous set for the story to take life within. The settings throughout the film are beautifully scaled and differ from the typical earthrealm just enough to immerse the viewer in a fantastical yet realistic environment. The village and town scenes look straight out of a renaissance festival and the more natural settings make the viewers want to travel and explore similar planes within the real world. 

With such high praise, why would a film as masterful as “Dungeons and Dragons; Honor Among Thieves” not earn full marks? The viewer gets lost in the story and settings along the story only to be dredged out by some poor practical effects. Some are fun and add to the humor and charm of the tale (like the Aarakocra/bird-person, Jarnathan), but others take away. The Tabaxi/cat-people in particular pull the viewer out of the film and back to reality. The costumes look like bad ‘80’s animatronics, which some might say adds to the campiness, but others will agree that the scene with them is a stark contrast to the rest of the film and takes away from the scenery. Special and practical effects can co-exist, especially in a D&D themed movie, but not in every possible way.  

In recent years, film advertisement has betrayed the actual movies they promote. They’ll give away all the humor and say nothing about the plot of the film. The advertisements for “Dungeons and Dragons; Honor Among Thieves,” however, are a refreshing break from the trend. If the sneak peaks provided by the trailers are something of intrigue, then the film won’t disappoint.