Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

After their last heist went south, bard and a barbarian freshly out of imprisonment are looking to gather a new party for – you guessed it – another heist to set everything right that went awry the last time, while both are also looking for closure regarding their last relationships. Unsuspectingly, they end up entangled in the plot of a villain with intentions far more nefarious than their own…

If you have ever played a table top roleplaying game, and had trouble explaining the experience to someone, this is the movie to recommend: it feels eerily similar to playing the game.

When I first heard a Dungeons & Dragons movie was being made, I honestly expected it to be the cash grabbiest of cash grabs (and being a grudging customer of Games Workshop, I unfortunately know all too well what a cash grab looks like). And I was afraid they were going to stick with the Game of Thrones-style grimdark fantasy setting (that I honestly tend to prefer, but it needs to be done right). Then I started hearing some positive things about the movie and figured I shouldn’t act like a boomer cynic and give it a shot. I’m really glad I did!

Honor Among Thieves is a movie that knows what it is, and, perhaps equally importantly, it knows what it is not and does not try to be what it cannot be.

It is light, it is fun, it is over the top. It is not serious, or grim, or original. It leans into tropes and clichés with a big wink. Its emotional arcs are functional, but it does not try to tug your heartstrings too much. And most importantly, it is genuinely fun. It made me laugh out loud in the cinema, which is rare because generally speaking I don’t do humour.

Even though I do not doubt that Honor Among Thieves is a funny, if bizarre, movie to watch even if you have not played a table top roleplaying game, a lot of the movie’s quips are aimed at the RPG audience – and they strike home, hard.

As a forever-DM (for those not in the know, the person who perpetually has to tell the story as opposed to playing as a character in it), I felt genuinely attacked a couple of times. The feeling when one of the main characters cuts straight through the dramatic monologues of one of the people they encounter, or when the druid fucks up all your plans by wild shaping into something stupid you hadn’t thought of…

Overall, I felt like the movie captured the feeling of playing a table top RPG surprisingly well: from the chaotic plot structure, bizarre player ingenuity messing with the DM’s best laid plans, the complete uselessness of the bard class, to the balance between character moments and cinematic fights, it feels like (at least some of) the movie’s creators understand what D&D is about.

The fact that the movie boast some decent acting (Hugh Grant is great!) and visual spectacle is just the cherry on top.

I would heartily recommend Honor Among Thieves, especially to folks familiar with TTRPGs. Just don’t go into the movie with high expectations – you’re not about to watch some masterpiece, but a fun flick that is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.

I’d heard a lot about this movie. Most of what I’d hear was along the lines of “I wasn’t expecting much, but it was actually really fun.” To be super honest, I wish I’d gone into this one blind. It was fun. I did enjoy it. However, it definitely took a while to win me over. The movie definitely has a lot of build-up before I felt like it had genuinely “started”. Once it did though, it was super fun. If I hadn’t known the movie would be fun in advance, it would have had the chance to gradually win me over. Instead, I had expectations that weren’t quite met in the first half hour or so.

Still, I found the movie really fun overall. It’s an adventure movie that can be enjoyed even by those unfamiliar with Dungeons and Dragons. Of course, the little nods to game elements and D&D tropes are great and make the movie even more fun for those who are familiar with the game.

Personal highlights for me were the scene with the dragon – which came totally out of left field – and the wild shape scene. I also really enjoyed the character of Xenk.

If you’re looking for a story with a lot of emotional depth, this likely won’t be the movie for you. While there is some attempt at this, it ultimately falls pretty flat. I would argue that that’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. In my personal experience, D&D games can get emotional, but really only when it involves player character deaths. Unless you’re in a campaign at the level of Critical Role or Dimension 20, I think the stakes are rarely at a level where you genuinely end up sad. This will vary of course, I’m sure there are lots of campaigns out there that do get genuinely emotional. Still, I do think that’s relatively rare.

All in all, it’s a solid 4-star rating for me. I’d like to see them make a sequel actually. I’d watch that.

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