REVIEW: ‘Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ unites generations of dedicated role-playing gamers

Delivering audiences with a frolicking fantasy adventure, “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (2023) embodies the cinematic masterpiece executed by D&D players in a real game.

Paramount Pictures via Wikipedia

Delivering audiences with a frolicking fantasy adventure, “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (2023) embodies the cinematic masterpiece executed by D&D players in a real game.

Cheyenne Meeks, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Prior to the age of digitized entertainment, kids would spend all weekend in their friend’s basement whipping up action-packed storylines and embodying diverse roles that can range from a spellcasting wizard to a deadly rogue. This creative and engaging experience is part of the legendary role-playing fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons, a name that, unbeknownst to kids of the past, would gain unprecedented notoriety in the modern sphere of pop culture. 

Designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974, the innocuous game Dungeons and Dragons became a household name in the 1980s for being associated with satanic rituals, forcing the D&D community to go underground. As time passed, agitation over the game subsided and its name started to creep back into pop culture, but D&D has always been considered a nerdy pastime.

Breaking this stereotype, the new movie “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” pays homage to the chaotic and epic fantasy world of D&D and its devoted fans. Rather than portraying D&D as an ostracized fandom, the movie creates a dynamic, comical atmosphere that resonates with the collective.  

Having suffered bad dice rolls with previous D&D-based movies, “Honor Among Thieves” stands out as it possesses the same chaotic and humorous qualities of a real-life play experience, enhanced by the casts’ dynamic performances.

Chris Pine, who plays the bard Edgin, and Michelle Rodriguez, who plays the human barbarian Holga, were an unlikely pair that shocked viewers with their friendship dynamic. Their lines are carried out in such a way that they can evoke tears one moment and fits of laughter the next, and their back-and-forth banter is extremely amusing to watch. 

Senior Charles Budan has been playing D&D every weekend with his friends for six years and appreciates the movie’s witty nature. “The humor was definitely the strongest part of the movie by far. The cast was chock full of charisma and used that to a great effect during the film’s more comedic scenes,” Budan stated.

Rather than trying to impress outsiders, the movie chiefly sticks to its source material to show how D&D enthusiasts are proud of their so-called “dorky” fascinations. Blending magical lore from the original game, such as the “speak with the dead” spell and shapeshifting, as well as incorporating unpredictable plot elements that pervade the playing experience, the new movie is a great introduction to the wondrous, imaginative world of D&D.

The legacy of Dungeons and Dragons continues to transpire into the present day. At PV, the D&D club hosts meetings every week so students can participate in campaigns. An active member of the club, sophomore Christina Stopyra plays D&D as a way to build a community based on similar interests. 

“You really get to build friendships within the group. When I joined the D&D club, I didn’t really know anyone. But as time went on, I got to know the others better and got to be part of a group that I would enjoy hanging out with both during and outside the club. I would also say that our Dungeon Masters are very good at creating their storyline and campaign,” Stopyra shared.

With the rising popularity of “geek culture,” it’s undeniable that D&D is starting to become more mainstream. “Now that DnD has transitioned from a game for so-called ‘outcasts’ into a game that people see as interesting and enjoyable, it makes me glad,” Stopyra continued. “I love that it’s seen as a place where creativity can be unleashed endlessly instead of some weird, unknown game. It’s getting recognized for its unique aspects and gameplay, and that’s awesome.”

“Honor Among Thieves” is a breath of fresh air for D&D fans, as positive representation of the community in popular culture is quite rare. For many loyal D&D gamers and recent newcomers, it’s exciting to see what new projects will emerge in the coming future.