Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Review: Just Another Adaptation?


Photo courtesy of Daisy Tiner

A concept book for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor of Thieves. Featured on the cover are four of the film’s main characters: Simon, Doric, Edgin, and Holga.

‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ – Directed by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley – Adventure, Fantasy – PG-13 – 2h 14m

Does ‘Honor of Thieves’ really live up to its source material, or is it just a failed cash grab?

‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ is an adventure-fantasy film inspired by the tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) of the same name: ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ also known as D&D. It’s plot follows a bard named Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) as he, with the help of his old caper crew, attempts to find a life-changing artifact and reconnect with his daughter after two years of imprisonment due to a failed heist.

This film not only represents several different classes that can be found in the ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ game, but many of the different locations in the common “Forgotten Realms” setting found in many D&D campaigns.

While fans of the game had suspicions at first, it’s easy to see that a lot of effort was put into making the film enjoyable for those who wanted something lore-accurate, as opposed to movie-goers that craved a new fantasy film.

In an interview with Collider, co-directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley go in depth with what they hope to accomplish with the movie; throughout the conversation, one large goal seems clear: make a movie that both long-time fans of the game and entirely new viewers can enjoy, and “bridge the gap,” in Daley’s words.

“…We set out to make a film that we were really proud of. We poured a lot of years of our lives into it. [We] knew that we had to kind of bridge that gap between fans and non-fans alike…you don’t have to know a lot about D&D to come to love it,” Daley said.

This is something that many would say was achieved through care and attention to detail surrounding the project.

From lore-accurate settings to easter eggs such as chest-mimics or an infamous gelatinous cube, there are a lot of familiar moments for past enjoyers of the game to appreciate. Overall, the film had both good and bad portrayals of different aspects of official ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ lore.

Simon Aurmar (Justice Smith) was a surprisingly well-developed, accurate character with well-represented abilities, although his relationship with certain magical objects may be incorrect or just more complicated than need-be.

The film serves as a good depiction of the development of Simon’s wild magic, which often results in powerful, uncontrollable surges of magic that some sorcerers who play the game will treat by rolling a die to determine the result of whatever spell they attempt to cast.

Although character building isn’t the only area of the film where credit is due. It integrated different, lesser-known aspects of the game into the plot, such as the Harpers, which is an organization that’s been written into the Forgotten Realms setting since 1987.

Not only this, but there were less noticeable details included into the design of certain settings. For example, the Underdark, which the party visits with the aid of a paladin named Xenk Yendar (Regé-Jean Page), is shown as almost entirely lit by fluorescent fungi and rocks.

While the movie was very accurate, seasoned D&D players were able to pick out several shortcomings. Some characters were either, at times, sold short or overpowered to an unrealistic extent.

The character Doric, a tiefling druid (Sophia Lillis), received criticism for overusing her abilities. The largest example of this is her use of Wild Shape (a shapeshifting ability that druids have) several times in mere minutes while most players can only cast it once or twice per day.

When the movie originally came out, there was also quite the controversy surrounding the fact that Doric frequently shapeshifts into an Owlbear, which is a type of creature that druids are not able to Wild-Shape into.

Now on the opposite side of that spectrum, there could have been many more opportunities for Edgin to fully utilize his Bard class. In most games, Bards are able to cast a myriad of spells that, in some cases, other classes can’t even access. However, more often than not his character is just seen as the charismatic and musically inclined leader.

Yet, despite all of this, all of these faults are something to be expected from a film designed to appeal to several types of audiences, a large range between those with multitudes of knowledge of the source material and those who thought of it as nothing more than an exciting adventure starring their favorite actors.

All in all, ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor of Thieves’ was a creative way to, even with its faults, paint a picture of one of the many Dungeons and Dragons universes in a way that resonated with all types of viewers: players of the game or not.