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Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) Review - SXSW 2023

The ambitious attempt to adapt games of any form into live-action media has been locked into an inconsistency, ranging from triumphs such as Netflix's Castlevania and The Last of Us to underwhelming disappointments like Assassin's Creed or Warcraft. While it's a grand undertaking to roll the nuances and complexities of any form of gaming into film or television while appealing to a broader audience, the expectations that come along with them are even greater.


The hit tabletop roleplaying action-adventure fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons has remained to be a staple - one often misunderstood after being clouded by misconceptions or conspiracy theories - has retained its prominence across pop culture. Its importance to entertainment media and fan communities has kept it relevant in the public eye, and the fourth bit at bringing the game to the big screen assures onlookers that it still deserves to be xxx.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves roots itself in the rich lore that the game has become so famous for bearing. It chooses to embrace its inherit quirkiness and curious appeal while digging deep into the creativity of the fantasy genre. The leap into the game isn't dead set on isolating its audience from novices to die-hards head-on; it balances its totem of Easter Eggs and allusions to original gameplay while welcoming newcomers into its vibrant, imaginative world. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves walks a careful line of appeasing long-time fans of the game who look forward to indulging in their game from a fresh point-of-view and keeping things easy to follow for those looking for a fun action flick.


Any doubt about humor being a working element in a movie based on Dungeons & Dragons should be cast away. Comedic beats meet expectations, and while the type of humor is safely predictable, the cheesiness is warmly welcomed. There's no eye-roll-worthy one-liner jammed into the script at any opportunity given, but the humor is delivered in a way that delivers deserved laughs. It isn't the most poignant comedy, nor is it expected to present itself as one, but it isn't dumbed down by any means.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves prides itself on its playfulness as it explores whimsical worlds, and its creatures contribute to the fun at hand. While only a few studios have perfected their CGI formula, the practical effects and masterful puppeteering in the film are a feat to behold. It's a greatly welcomed surprise that the practical effects in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves have proven themselves to not only be noteworthy but memorable. Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan have successfully teamed up to create the most memorable Dungeons & Dragons movie to date without feeling the need to reduce the game down to fit attraction to the mainstream moviegoer. They're a greatly skilled pair with a knack for bringing board games to life.


Big action doesn't dare to bloat the narrative themes from Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, nor does it come close to minimalizing character-centric plotlines that grant the film such a sense of heart. The rambunctious quest at hand not once interferes with the importance of its key players - it makes them all the more important. Sweeping action and a grandiose sense of adventure are only a part of what makes the film so spectacular, and the insistence on keeping the whimsy of fantasy unrestrained is the answer to the call fantasy fans have been crying out for.


When rolling for initiative. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves doesn't miss. 8/10.

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