In 2000, a movie starring Jeremy Irons, Marlon Waynes, Thora Birch, and Justin Whalin came out called Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy film that not only had terrible CG, but it was exceptionally paint-by-numbers and in many ways, exceptionally soulless. The only thing even remotely like playing D&D with your friends in real life was Marlon Wayans’ character Snails–because he was at least a bit fun. In 2005, there was Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God and in 2012, there was Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness, and not one of these movies seemed to capture playing D&D. However, that might be about to change. In a new feature for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, due out in March 2023, it seems like we might be about to get a D&D movie that actually understands the game.
While the new poster is your typical “here’s a bunch of floating, giant bodies all overlapping each other,” a new feature, titled “An Epic Journey,” is further proof that the production team behind the upcoming movie have played D&D. And that’s wonderfully refreshing because the last few movies were just awful.
Take for instance Xenk (played by Regé-Jean Page) in Honor Among Thieves. He’s a paladin, and as a paladin, he’s very very likely a lawful good character–let’s just forget for a moment that you could, and should, play a paladin with the Oath of Conquest as evil for a moment–and because of his alignment, he’s going to a sour on all the fun activities in your group because he obeys the law of the land, like a fun and more righteous version of Judge Dredd–minus all that death. This character tends to clash with others, as they can be the group’s morality center–even if other characters in the group are the same alignment as said paladin.
Characters don’t always get along swimmingly. It’s typically a bunch of random people, brought together for a journey greater than them. Occasionally, a few players will connect with each other early on, but if by day one, every member of a party is best friends with each other, that’s weird. There’s lots of big personalities that are bound to clash with each other. This is something we see in the new video right away with Chris Pine’s bard not getting along with Xenk.
Another aspect of D&D the former movies failed to capture was the whimsy and fun of the world. There are treasure chests that want to eat you. There are snake men. There are dungeons which are sometimes inhabited by dragons. The world of D&D is filled with out-of-this-world monsters, animals, beings, etc–some of which are whimsical, some terrifying, and some silly. The few videos we’ve seen of Honor Among Thieves leans into that.
It’s all about a group of characters, on a seemingly impossible journey that might not get along too well, as they come across various bizarre creatures. Everything about D&D has a comical lean to it–unless you play with people that are way too serious about the game, which is zero fun. And that’s why it’s so great to see the Honor Among Thieves embrace everything players love about D&D.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is directed by John Francis Daley (Game Night) and Jonathan Goldstein (Game NIght) and is written by Daley, Michael Gilio, and Chris McKay. The film stars Pine and Page, and also features Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, and Hugh Grant. The film hits theaters on March 31, 2023.
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