Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Theaters released in theaters this weekend and I went to see it for a second time. I’d had the great fortune of catching an early screening a couple weeks ago, but I wanted to go see it again—something I almost never do. I have to really enjoy a movie to see it twice, and I have to really enjoy a movie to see it twice in theaters, especially within a two-week period. That should give you a pretty good sense of just how much I liked Honor Among Thieves.
Without spoiling the film, the story revolves around a small group of unlikely heroes: Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) is a former Harper, now living a life of skullduggery. His best friend is Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) a barbarian warrior with a heart of gold, also now living a life of skullduggery. The group is rounded out by a petty magician named Simon Aumar (Justice Smith) and a Tiefling Druid and shapeshifter named Doric (Sophia Lillis). Other colorful characters complete the cast including Xenk Yendar (Regé-Jean Page) the lawful-good Paladin, con-man Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant) and the mysterious wizard Sofina (Daisy Head).
I’ve already penned a glowing, spoiler-free review of the film, but I wanted to expand on the reasons why I think you should go see it on the biggest screen possible. (Trust me, I saw it on a normal-sized screen and then in our ‘deluxe’ theater with a much larger screen and better sound and I recommend the latter). Here are five reasons why you should go see the new D&D movie in theaters—and bring your friends and family (or date) along with you.
Table of Contents
1. This Is A Fun Fantasy Adventure For Everyone
One of the best things about Honor Among Thieves is that it has something for everyone, regardless of age, gender, whatever. Are you an experienced D&D player? There are plenty of references to Forgotten Realms, from Baldur’s Gate to Elminster Aumar. There are owlbears and displacer beasts.
Are you Dungeons & Dragons illiterate and don’t necessarily get all the jokes about lawful good paladins being insufferable? That’s okay! The writers have done such a good job with the humor that even the jokes you don’t get all the way are still funny. This isn’t funny in the way that MCU films are funny, either, with endless one-liners and quips. There are genuinely humorous moments and gags that had the whole audience laughing throughout the film.
It also does magic really, really well—it’s far more creative than in a lot of fantasy films, where wizard combat boils down to beams of colored light pushing into one another. The action is also great fun, with some really terrific fight scenes and one hilarious escape from a massive dragon.
2. It Actually Has A Really Good Story!
But don’t worry, this isn’t just a running series of jokes, either. This is a heist movie with a very personal touch. The main quest is compelling enough, but it’s the twists and turns, the setbacks and victories along the way that make it so much fun. It’s also quite emotional! Surprisingly so, in fact, with an ending that ties everything together perfectly.
I can’t really talk about all this without spoiling. Suffice to say, Edgin’s quest is one that will keep you entertained from start to end, and even though the film runs nearly 2 and-a-half hours, it never feels slow or too long.
3. Critics And Audiences Are Both Loving The Film
My colleague Paul Tassi posted about this earlier, but Rotten Tomatoes shows enthusiastic agreement among both critics and audiences for this picture, with audiences ranking it just a bit higher than the official reviews. It’s also getting an A- Cinema Score, which is excellent (and often a better gauge of moviegoers’ true feelings than online reviews).
This has led to strong word-of-mouth, what appears to be a strong opening weekend for a brand new movie IP, and hopefully some box office legs to match. But the real point is, this is a crowd-pleaser that isn’t a hotbed of controversy or burnout, like so many movies in other franchises like Star Wars, DC, Marvel and so forth. One reason for this might be . . . .
4. There’s No Divisive Political Messaging
When I noted above that this is a movie for everyone I meant it. There is no preachy political message being foisted on unsuspecting audiences. The film is diverse but it draws from a diverse setting (D&D’s Forgotten Realms are traditionally diverse, so there’s none of the controversy around forcing diversity around an existing fantasy setting like Tolkien’s Middle-earth).
Better yet, the film’s diversity just feels natural rather than forced and the movie doesn’t ask us to think about it because it never makes a big deal out of it, which is exactly how a movie like this should be. Tired of being hammered over the head with culture war stuff? You don’t have to worry about that here, which means we don’t have to endure endless online debate about it (though obviously some people will take offense to the female barbarian being stronger and more of a fighter than the male characters, I think these people must have never played D&D before and have so fully come under the curse of the culture wars that they find joy in nothing).
This really does feel like a movie made by people who play and love D&D with the primary focus being to share and spread that love with a good story, lovable characters and plenty of action and magic.
5. We Should Support This Kind Of Movie In Theaters
Finally, I think we should reward this kind of film by seeing it in the theater. There are so many bad movies these days, and so many of the biggest films are part of massive franchises that have grown awfully stale at this point. While this is part of D&D it’s still a whole new story with new characters set in a world that hasn’t really been explored in any meaningful way on the big screen. Personally, I’d love to see more like it, and to see Paramount make films that take place in other D&D settings like Dragonlance or with other established characters in Forgotten Realms like Drizzt Do’Urden, or go further afield and give us Greyhawk or Ravenloft and so forth.
Plus, I love the movies. I want movie theaters to survive. It got a bit precarious there with the pandemic. Just like Top Gun: Maverick became a big theater blockbuster event that came almost out of nowhere, I’d love to see this movie become a major theatrical success.
In the end, this is just a delightful action-adventure heist movie set in a colorful, magical world that really taps into that tabletop gaming fun. It feels like the kind of adventures my friends and I go on when we start rolling dice together. Sure, everyone plays a different game. Some are darker, some are bloodier, some aren’t as funny, some are more epic, some don’t focus on heists but rather massive battles or quests for revenge, but you can’t do it all in one film. So here’s to hoping we get more big-budget Dungeons & Dragons movies with this much love for the source material in the future.
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