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Dungeons and Dragons is the best movie I've seen this Year!

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

"I don't give out perfect scores often, but I can say with no hesitation that this is a perfect addition to the fantasy movie genre. D&D: Honor Amongst Thieves is this generations, Princess Bride."

Allow me to begin this article by saying that I'm 100% a nerd, but I've never been a D&D nerd. D&D nerds are a unique brand of nerd on the geeky spectrum. These are the OG nerds, a committed guild of fantasy role playing aficionados that have been supporting the fandom and more than 45 years of D&D lore. This lot have their own hierarchy, lexicon, inside jokes, cool parties and most of all community.

In the past D&D geeks have been mocked by mainstream media, but thanks to shows like "STRANGER THINGS" , "FREAKS AND GEEKS" , "COMMUNITY", and "BIG BANG THEORY" it's now their time to shine (Casts spell Dancing Lights). Unfortunately, though Hollywood doesn't have the best track record with the D&D Community. Some of us are still trying to forget the 2000 Dungeons and Dragon movie starring Marlon Waynes (yes you read that correctly), Jeremy Irons, Bruce Payne and Justin Whalin.

The history of flops didn't stop there, the list continued. There was the occasional bright spot like the 1983 cartoon created by Mark Evanier which featured a group of kids thrown into the fantasy world of D&D where they must search for a way home, armed with magic weapons and the help of a mysterious ally known as the Dungeon Master.

Aside from that bit of nostalgia, there was no reason to believe that "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves" was going to be worth anything more than a steaming pile of ORC dung. Holy Tiamat! Boy was I wrong! Let's get right to the point, I don't give out perfect scores often, but I can say with no hesitation that this is a perfect addition to the fantasy movie genre. D&D: Honor Amongst Thieves is this generations, Princess Bride. In a first Quarter that saw the release of highly anticipated Creed 3, Ant-Man and Wasp: Quantummania and Scream 6, "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves" is the best movie I've seen in 2023 and it isn't even close.

This is the kind of movie geeks have been clamoring for, for a while now. It's fresh, original and most of superheroes. I laughed, I cried, the screams I scrumpt with excitement during every action scene was enough to slightly embarrass. The visual effects were breathtaking, and the CGI department must have had a MARVEL sized budget because you can tell quickly...HASBRO wasn't cheap with this film with a 151-million-dollar budget. Three times the amount of the 2000 Dungeons and Dragons movie (45 million) and Twelve times the amount of the 2005 straight to DVD Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (12 million).

I have a favorite term I like to use, one that I picked up from the "Boondocks" when speaking to the authenticity of a thing. "Game recognize game granddad" and you can tell that Directors John Francis Daley (Freaks and Geeks, Bones) & Jonathan Goldstein (Spider-man: Homecoming, Horrible Bosses) have casted a 20-sided die before. Daley plays a weekly campaign via zoom and Goldstein solicited the help of the "Wizard of the West Coast" to keep their pulse on the true essence of D&D while writing the script. One scene from the trailers truly embodies their dedication to the fandom:

This scene is a flawless representation of how real life D&D players will react when the "Speak with Dead" spell is cast.

This ensemble cast of shines with Chris Pine leading the way as the perfectly cast bard Edgin. Every good D&D group needs a loyal, endearing, smooth talking planner. One of my favorite quotes from the movie:

The Druid: [from first trailer] What is it, exactly, that you bring to this?

The Bard: I'm a planner. I make plans.

The Druid: You've already made the plan, so...

The Bard: If the existing plan fails, I make a new plan.

The Druid: So, you make plans that fail.

The Barbarian: He also plays the lute.

The Bard: Not relevant.

Michelle Rodriguez plays the part as the consummate companion to the bard. In the D&D world she would be referred to as a TANK, in D&D: Honor Amongst Thieves she is known as "Holga the Barbarian". A woman of few words, heavy fists and loves potatoes almost as much as Edgin loves to talk.

Rounding out this cabal of thieves is "Simon the Sorcerer" a quirky sub-par mage with imposter syndrome played by Justice Smith ( The Get Down, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu), "Doric the Druid" the shapeshifting revolutionary OWL-BEAR played by Sophia Lillis ( IT, Gretel & Hansel), "Forge the Rouge" a seasoned shifty conman with a thirst for gold played by Hugh Grant (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral), "Xenk the Paladin" Annoyingly handsome, honorable, and a master swordsmen with a dark past played by Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton, Roots) and finally "Sofina the Wizard" one of the most powerful and deadly practitioners of magic in the land in dire need of a tan played by Daisy Head (The Sandman, Underworld: Blood Wars).

This cast quite simply nails each character's archetype while still immersing the viewer in this world of classic D&D monsters, misfits and easter eggs. There isn't much world building in this movie, but it perfectly sets the tone for future sequels. There are moments in this movie where I could hear the faint cackles of a Dungeon Master fawning over the constant twists, turns and misfortunes of our unlikely band of heroes. Thats how immersive this movie can get; I could almost envision Chris Pine doing a charisma check before using persuasion in some of his monologues. I would be remised if I didn't also mention that this movie seamlessly exemplifies how to integrate people of color (POC) in the fantasy genre.

Half of the cast are POC, both black and brown. Interracial couples, bi-racial children, bi-species characters abound in an un-performative way. If you have an issue with a black tinker bell...go and see this movie. Michelle Rodriguez, Sophia Lillis and Daisy Head break all the stereotypical tropes of women in fantasy movies. No princesses to be saved or damsels in distress here. These women are frontline warriors and, in many instances, spend most of the movie in the middle of the fray.

My Black Fae's will be ecstatic over the inclusion and representation in this movie. I already know a few will cosplay as some of this movie's characters at the gala this year, and rightfully so. You would think inclusion of POC fantasy characters wouldn't be such an issue, especially when set in expensive worlds that include dragons, goblins, and magic. Yet somehow POC's are often left out of the equation...I'm looking at you "Lord of the Rings".

Such is not the case for D&D: Honor Amongst Thieves. The POC characters span a wide range of personality types, and they do the one thing any POC character should do in the fantasy genre...simply exist. No need for high fives, jive talk, or urban swagger. These characters simply exist, and blend into this fantastical landscape like they have always been here. Because we should have, we should have always been here. D&D: Honor Amongst Thieves gets that right.

For that reason alone, this movie would have received high praise from me. Couple that with the amazing fight choreography, rich visual effects, campy humor and purposeful storytelling grounded in the customs of the D&D fandom. This movie succeeds in a critical hit, vanquishing the ever-elusive HNIC 10/10 rating. This movie hits theaters on March 31st, 2023, and should absolutely be seen in the theaters, in full cosplay, and with your favorite guild members. Go grab some mead afterwards at a local pub, and geek out over D&D: Honor Amongst Thieves.

By the way, thanks to this movie I will now explore the world of Dungeons and Dragons. I've connected with a Dungeon Master and I'm completing my character sheet. Allow me to formally introduce you to King Curtis the Lionhearted, First son of Samson the Judge, conqueror of mountains, beast and lovers, and a Blood Hunter Tank.

If you love D&D: Honor Amongst Thieves, you will also love "The Legend of Vox Machina" streaming now on Amazon Prime.

Which Character would you play as?

  • The Wizard

  • The Barbarian

  • The Paladin

  • The Bard

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