SXSW 2023: ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ Review
The following is part of our coverage of SXSW 2023. For more, click here.
I remember the first time I played Dungeons & Dragons with my high school friends. I found it to be slow and boring then, and I find it slow and boring now. Seeing that a Dungeons & Dragons movie was coming out, my excitement was immeasurably low. There were no plans on watching it, and I was originally going to skip it. In fact, I have now only seen it because it was premiering at SXSW. But now that I have seen it, I can assure you that I was dead wrong about my initial disposition. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a grand time with enough action to keep the common D&D lover and D&D hater satisfied.
From the jump, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves sets the scale up nicely. Every area the party goes to is large and sprawling that inspires awe. There’s a great sense of variety that offers enough eye candy during the quieter moments and adds a visual complement to the more exhilarating moments. You never sit and think how cool it would be if they ventured into that lava-filled area or snow-entrenched land, the movie goes and shows you.
Then the action pieces, OH, the action pieces. We were fortunate to get blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness exhibiting a lot of action last year. This year, we get to start off on a high with Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. There’s a lot of geographical movement during these parts and the filmmakers do a good job of letting you experience it fully without cutting away. You get to understand the scope of your area, in the same way David Fincher introduced Fight Club, with a fast and sprawling cinematic lens spanning entire kingdoms. Which in turn amps up the thrill factor substantially.
While there are plenty of things to enjoy about Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, the one thing that almost killed it was the pacing. Every small quest they embark on feels like smaller pieces to a larger story in the same way you’d watch a TV series. The lack of cohesion bogs the momentum down constantly leaving me with an uneven experience. A 2-hour and 15-minute movie feels more like a 3-hour and 15-minute movie, and not in a good way. I understand that may be closer to how a D&D campaign will run. But for the sake of adapting the material, it should have trimmed far more than it does.
If you had seen any trailers for this and found the quips to be obnoxious, you sadly won’t find any reprieve in the final product. You can try and shut it out, but for some viewers that might not be in their cards. The movie is much better than the constant jokes and one-liners, and it’s unfortunate that there may be some people who will miss this movie because of that.
With those things in mind, the thing that I really appreciated was its commitment to its source. Dungeons & Dragons has really goofy lore, and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves leans heavily into it. It never tries to make itself come off as cool or better than its own source material. The movie knows exactly what it is and rides that proudly like a badge of honor. When Chris Pine is plain-faced describing why “ziggle zorp” can’t do “floofin scoop” I don’t sit and watch in bemusement. I sit there and think “ziggle zorp no floofin scoop”.
To say this movie was a pleasant surprise is an understatement. I went in with an open mind, despite my opinions of the D&D brand, and came out a believer. There may be some viewers turned off by the quips, but if an early sequence involving a fly (my personal favorite sequence) doesn’t flip that viewer’s perspective I don’t imagine much else will get them onboard. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves should be seen on a big and loud screen with as lively a crowd as possible. Take your D&D party or take your D&D-hating friend, I assure you good times will be had. – Jacob Mauceri
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves will release in theaters on March 31, 2023.
Did you like this article? If so, consider visiting our YouTube channel, where we discuss the latest and greatest in pop culture news.