Dungeons & Dragons Review


Oh man, I miss actual Dungeons & Dragons.

It’s been a long time since I have played D&D. I’ve had a few opportunities in the last few years to get back into it, but I just don’t have the time these days. And the people I would be most able to play with are folks who just don’t have easy availability themselves. So you fall into the whole “Well I’m good for X, but you are only free Y, and so-and-so is best on Z…”, so you all play once every two months, and… blegh.

Being an adult is hard!

But what I can do instead of playing D&D is going to the movies and seeing Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, the newly released blockbuster movie starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Hugh Grant, and more!

It’s… not really the same thing. But I do love movies, too!

The newest effort to give us stand-out D&D movie (and, perhaps, a franchise) is centered around a team of down-on-their-luck thieves. Edgin and Holga start off already in prison after a failed attempt to steal an ancient artifact that would allow Edgin to bring back his wife, the mother of his daughter (Kira).

We get Edgin’s backstory (he was a Harper whose wife was killed by a Red Wizard after he arrested said Wizard) and the tale of the botched robbery all in a first few minutes exposition dump under the guise of Edgin and Holga arguing why they should get an early release for their crime.

The two thieves use the hearing as a way to escape their prison and try to get their lives back together, but they realize–while trying to reunite with Kira–that one of their former partners betrayed them and has stolen everything. Their lives, their wealth… and Kira’s trust.

That puts Edgin and Holga on a quest to build back their former team, with a few new additions, and take back what they believe is theirs. And maybe become heroes along the way when a looming threat becomes intertwined in their quest.

Here was the first thing I thought as I left the movie theater: the trailers for this movie did a really good job not giving anything away. You get a lot of entertaining scenes in the trailer, but I sure did not know what the story was or which characters were around at what points. Some characters that the trailers led me to believe had large roles actually don’t. Sequences happened in orders I did not expect. What the whole motivation of the heroes was was actually hidden. Compared to a lot of trailers nowadays, being able to hide your tale like that is pretty nifty!

On the other hand, I also realized the trailer may not have spoiled the story, but it did include all of the best moments. Have you ever sat in a theater and seen a moment building that you know how it ends because of a trailer you saw a dozen times before the film came out? And you think “Oh man, I wish I could have gone into this moment blind”? That’s most of this flick. The vast majority of the best lines and biggest gags were already doled out to the world for free.

So… trailers, man. They are a hard thing to get perfectly right.


+It’s fun and easy. The movie is 134 minutes, and it doesn’t feel like that at all. The story keeps moving pretty breezily, and the characters are mostly charming and affable enough that you enjoy the time you spend with them. There is some time-filling fetch quest stuff in the second act, sure, but even then, it’s exciting and fun, and you aren’t too concerned with the flick going MacGuffin 101 on you.

Chris Pine is his usual disarming self. You can basically watch this guy do anything for two hours, and it will be pleasant. Sophia Lillis as Doric was my second favorite actor here. She brings this great energy of hopefulness, but also exasperation at having to deal with the rest of her comrades. Hugh Grant is here to chew scenery and play, well, a fantasy universe version of most Hugh Grant characters. You either like him or don’t, but I still think his shtick works, especially when it’s essentially a nostalgia act these days. So yeah, this is a movie that probably only deserved to be 100 minutes, but they stretched it out way past that… and it still works because of the interactions.

+If you are making a Dungeons & Dragons movie, you have to really bring it with the effects, and I thought this did. I’ve seen other reviews say the effects were very hit-or-miss, but I thought mostly everything looked glorious. There are one or two moments where a character is clearly interacting with a green screen of other characters, but nothing else struck me. The monsters look wonderful. The world is filled with tieflings and serpentine beings and halflings and birdmen. They weren’t afraid to make a very D&D inspired world, and the effects reward their imagination. Doric’s animal forms stand-out. The dragons look great (my wife LOVED “the pudgy dragon” and wanted to have one of him as a pet). It’s a world I could picture breathing.

-The story is pretty weak all-around. And I get it; you are making a Dungeons & Dragons movie. You put your soul into effects and fun characters, and that’s all you have the energy for. But nothing here is noteworthy. There is a betrayal from a protagonist. A MacGuffin chase. A “Believe in yourself” storyline. A hero overcoming his own character flaws. A sky beam. A death that is immediately undone. A heroic sacrifice. It’s all very paint-by-numbers. The writers clearly went with the very first ideas they had and did not push themselves to expound on them at all.

I WILL give the story credit for not forcing a romance angle that it seemed VERY likely to force. The two main characters remain platonic best friends throughout. There is ANOTHER romance forced for the secondary characters, but that’s not so bad.

-Sticking with story flaws–because nothing else is really of issue here–the movie opens with Edgin and Holga in prison, and we get several minutes of exposition from Chris Pine on how they got there. I don’t want my movie to have to explain why we are where we are when I could see it instead. So if it were up to me, I’d have cut the entire second act MacGuffin chase, pushed everything back, and made the first act the backstory of how the characters got to be where they are.

Show me more of Edgin and Holga’s relationship with Kira so that I actually care about what happens when they get out of prison. Show me the botched robbery that got them put in prison in real time. Show me their attempts over two years to get back out to Kira. Show me, show me, show me. All of this would have been more emotionally investing than “Well, we have to spend an act going to get a helmet so Simon can do something he could do story-wise just as well without the helmet”.

So much of what is supposed to be the emotional core of this flick was lost because we are just TOLD what happened instead of seeing it in real time and feeling what the characters feel.


It wasn’t a down, but the best moments having been handed out by the trailer genuinely hurt this movie, to where every part I feel like I should have had the most fun… well, I already had it weeks ago! But aside from that and the lazy storytelling, this is a serviceable outing. Solid performances, real passion for and dedication to the source material, and just a plain goofball charm end up making up for the warts and letting the film sail by. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but as wheels go… it’s pretty… round? Wheely? I kind of lost control of that at the end there.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

2023 New Releases Ranking As Of Release: #7 out of 18.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s