I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) with my brother since we were kids. I can remember the thrilling and chilling adventure through the Ravenloft module, “The Created.” Starting with the second edition was a bit overwhelming, but as time went on and DnD grew as a company, I noticed that the modern fifth edition lacks a lot of the charm and depth the second edition had.
So, when my brother told me that a Dungeons and Dragons movie was being released, I was not excited. I expected a poorly-made movie where everything was overly narrated by characters in attempts to make it feel like people playing the game. I assumed it would be bland and lacking charm.
Thankfully, this was not the case (for the most part).
“Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” follows the adventure of Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez), Simon Aumar (Justice Smith) and Doric (Sophia Lillis). The plot of the movie is nothing new; Edgin’s old party was betrayed, the traitor becomes politically influential, has something important and is conspiring with an evil “red wizard” and the party needs a magic item to defeat them.
While it isn’t revolutionary, it feels a lot like an older Dungeons and Dragons story.
There are a few things that the film does to capture the role-playing and story-telling elements of DnD that makes the game captivating to millions.
Much like an actual game of DnD, the first portion of the film holds the viewer’s hand a bit, easing them into the world and slowly establishing and gathering the main characters. A decent amount of exposition is mixed in so the audience understands the party composition. The movie also makes sure viewers are aware of the characters’ classes, something that players often reveal to one another when introducing characters.
The movie also took the time to include a few non-human races, something I was worried about. My main concern with the integration of non-humans was the quality and technique used to incorporate them. Thankfully, the CGI for the movie was quite good, making for detailed feathers on the bird race Aarakocra and scaly faces of Dragonborns, maintaining the immersion of the film.
Unfortunately, while non-human races like Aarakocras and Dragonborns can be seen throughout the film, the main party does not deviate much from humans and human-like figures. There are two humans, a half-elf and a tiefling, a human with horns and a tail –– similar to a demon.
I was also incredibly worried about the poor integration of monsters, especially dragons.
Dragons, in DnD, are incredibly diverse in appearance, personality and breath weapon. While the movie didn’t show off much of their personalities, the two dragons that appear do represent their colors well. The red dragon had a more traditional fire-breathing, people-eating demeanor, and the black dragon had distinct tusk-like horns and line of acid attack. Other monsters, like displacer beasts and intellect devourers, were also represented with great accuracy.
The general tone of the movie was a blend of serious action and goofiness. Characters say and do ridiculous things, similar to how most people play DnD. It also makes a few meta-humor jokes, subtly referencing rules or other game elements in a way that isn’t imposing on the audience.
As far as representing how it might feel to play a game of DnD, the film does a good job of showing that part of the game. I wouldn’t just recommend this to people who like Dungeons and Dragons or fantasy films, but to anyone looking for a respectable movie with well-done GCI, sound effects, music, comedic flair and well-written characters.