There is a idea typically invoked in tabletop RPGs: the “Rule of Cool”. It means, it is alright to bend the principles of the sport you are enjoying, so long as it is within the title of constructing one thing thrilling and enjoyable occur. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves virtually makes it its mission assertion.
When this huge funds movie adaptation of the long-lasting tabletop sport was first revealed, some pedantic hay was made from the truth that the druid character makes use of her Wild Form capacity within the trailer to show into an owlbear—one thing technically unattainable below the principles of the sport. Individuals more likely to stage that kind of criticism will most likely have a mind aneurysm once they witness her rework right into a dozen completely different animals over the course of a beautiful one-shot escape sequence.
(opens in new tab)
However you’ll be able to’t bend the principles for those who do not acknowledge them within the first place—and regardless of any liberties it takes within the title of cinematic motion, Honor Amongst Thieves feels remarkably devoted to the tabletop sport. It would not harm that it is also only a actually enjoyable fantasy film.
My misgivings about D&D’s place within the trendy RPG trade are well-recorded, and there is definitely a contact of the company round Honor Amongst Thieves. Undeniably, it is a play for broader mainstream success for the model, and you may virtually hear writers tapping out sequels and spin-offs as you watch. However I am additionally somebody who’s had a variety of enjoyable with D&D over a few years, and the a part of my coronary heart that also holds a variety of affection for its world of mimics, fireballs and rust monsters could not assist however be warmed by a movie clearly made with buckets of real love and understanding of the sport.
As soon as its core occasion of adventurers has come collectively—together with a cocky bard (Chris Pine), a brutal barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez), a sorcerer with vanity points (Justice Smith) and an eco-warrior druid (Sophia Lillis)—the movie rapidly takes on the tempo and magnificence of an amazing tabletop marketing campaign. Any common DM or participant will discover themselves recognising moments and tropes from their very own experiences—just like the occasion determining a weird, unintended use for his or her new magical merchandise, or an overpowered NPC stepping in to information them to a significant macguffin. One sequence sees the characters use a magic merchandise that lets them revive a corpse for precisely 5 questions earlier than it dies as soon as once more, and the ensuing bumbling investigation throughout a whole graveyard felt straight from my very own desk.
There’s an actual funding, too, within the Forgotten Realms setting—the longstanding D&D universe that is dwelling to the likes of Baldur’s Gate and the Sword Coast. A lot of the plot takes place within the metropolis of Neverwinter, and consists of factions just like the Harpers and the Crimson Wizards of Thay in a means that feels pure for the story, but in addition surprisingly respectful of the sport’s lore. Alongside the best way, traditional D&D monsters and spells make their appearances, from mind devourers to prestidigitation. However, vitally, the movie by no means will get slowed down in exposition—it largely trusts the viewers sufficient to simply set up the principles visually or via the motion, guaranteeing it ought to play as nicely to audiences unfamiliar with the Monster Handbook as hardcore followers.
(opens in new tab)
It is from a classy movie—it is gentle and poppy, with way more spectacle than depth. You will see its main twists coming a mile away, and it struggles to present its characters sufficient weight for its emotional beats to land successfully. However the Rule of Cool applies all through, with a inventive eye for motion that ensures that the spectacle is ceaselessly riveting. Some well-used sensible results and sharp battle choreography elevate even its easiest scenes—there are two sequences which might be mainly simply “Right here, watch the barbarian get offended and hit a load of individuals for a bit” and truthfully I might have been completely satisfied watching 10.
And as could be anticipated coming from the administrators of missed comedy gem Sport Evening, it is actually humorous too. Although there are many Marvel-esque sarcastic one-liners, what works is that every character has their very own comedic voice—they do not simply stand round quipping Whedon-isms at one another as in so many blockbusters as of late. Even when not one of the characters are vastly memorable, they’re not less than all distinct and likeable—and that is a lot sufficient to get a movie this gentle and agile over the end line with a cheeky grin on its face.
Think about the stain of the 2000 movie cleaned—Honor Amongst Thieves is nice enjoyable and about as devoted an adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons as any fan may hope to see on display. It is simple to imagine this might actually be the launchpad into mainstream leisure that WOTC clearly hopes it will likely be. On the very least, there will be lots of people leaving the theatre keen to start out their subsequent—or first—marketing campaign.