Honor Among Thieves: D&D’s more fun to play than watch

Photo by: Brenden Cowan

Rating: 3/5

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is perfectly fine, though it could have been more ambitious.

The movie follows the bard Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), a former hero turned thief. After breaking out of prison, he forms a ragtag team to rescue his daughter and stop a sinister necromancer plot.

The film’s selling point — beyond its ties to the D&D brand — is in the blend of genres: fantasy movies and heist movies have been done to death, but few have ever combined the two before. That said, while this combination makes the heist unique, it does little to enhance the fantasy aspect, which is largely formulaic. 

I’m sure that the settings, creatures and magical artefacts are all taken from D&D’s lore. However, as someone with only a passing interest in the franchise, not much stands out from the conventions laid out by other series, especially The Lord of the Rings. The one part of the film that manages to break away from this generic feeling is the scene in the arena, in which the heroes navigate a shifting maze pursued by monsters, though this was a fairly small part of the overall plot.

The characters themselves also fall into well-worn archetypes: the shifty thief with a heart of gold, the blunt strongwoman of few words, the one who has great power but still has trouble controlling it. That said, there are a few interesting subversions in the character types. For example, the barbarian Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) is motivated by the loss of her husband; he isn’t dead though, he just divorced her. These deviations help spice up the characters, though ultimately there still isn’t much new on display here.

The dialogue largely follows the style popularized by the MCU: it’s dominated by quips and one-liners about the outlandish events at hand. This wasn’t bad per se, but often the jokes felt predictable, generally being the first thing you’d think of to comment about a scene. 

All of this comes together to make a very safe, if unambitious, product. If there was a machine that produced serviceable movies and you put “Dungeons and Dragons” into it, this is what you would get. Though, it’s hard to imagine what could have been done to improve it.

D&D as a property is largely antithetical to traditional cinematic storytelling; it is collaborative, relying on the players to come together and create a story. Trying to cram it into a largely uncollaborative format ends up stripping away everything that gives D&D its identity. That said, 2014’s The Lego Movie took the interactive medium of Lego and made an engaging story about creativity versus perfection, so there may have been potential for something similar here.

Overall, Honor Among Thieves is perfectly fine; you can throw it on and not hate yourself for doing so. However, the generic characters, settings and dialogue prevent it from standing out from other movies in its categories, and it offers little to those not obsessed with the D&D brand.

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