Roll for charisma, strength, wit, action, adventure, humor, and excitement with Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant headline a genuinely fun and wildly entertaining should-have-been-huge blockbuster - and you don’t have to be a D&D fan to enjoy it. Paramount delivers an all-around excellent Dolby Vision/Atmos 4K release with some solid bonus features - Highly Recommended
One of the most popular franchises of all time in tabletop gaming finally gets a genuine crack at a truly cinematic adaptation. After the disastrously bad 2000 film, the likes of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves felt like a real long shot. Thankfully as the gaming community has grown exponentially over the last two decades, the time was right for a new take on familiar material with a pair of filmmakers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley who clearly love the source material but know how to make a film everyone can enjoy. It may have seen a middling return at the box office, but Honor Among Thieves proves to be a fresh and fun adventure film when you need it most.
Our film picks up with our clever hero Edgin (Chris Pine) and his warrior friend Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) pleading their case for clemency having served two years in prison. After making a daring escape, the duo set off on a quest to recover a talisman of resurrection and reunite Edgin with his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman). Only problem is their old friend Forge (Hugh Grant) has aligned himself with the evil red wizard Sofina (Daisy Head) to enrich his own pockets and keep the talisman for himself and Kira as his daughter. For our thieves to accomplish their mission they’re going to need a little help from the struggling magician Simon (Justice Smith) and the tiefling Doric (Sophia Lillis) to break in, rescue Kira, get the talisman, and maybe make off with Forge’s treasure if there’s time.
Some bad movies make gobs of cash at the box office while great flicks roll short. I don’t get why some movies are hits and others aren’t but Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves deserved a bigger box office take than it managed to conjure up. Granted I am guilty of not seeing this film in theaters. Despite good reviews and word of mouth, I just couldn’t make time and then I was never really sold on the trailers. After watching through I feel the trailers did a pretty pisspoor job of showcasing exactly what this movie was going to be.
While tabletop gaming is a huge industry now, a name like Dungeons & Dragons carries a bit of baggage. I knew people who assumed you needed to know the game before getting into this film but for those wary would-be viewers, Writers/Directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley made a flick that's easily accessable. Sure, it helps to know a little something about D&D in order to get some of the gags, but most of the humor, action, and plot have the feel of a Dungeonmaster setting up a new quest with first-time players you’re never left out of the loop. And I say that as someone whose peak D&D time was 25 years ago and have only sparsely gamed since. The characters, the dialog, the action setpieces, they all felt like a bunch of friends questing together with a few characters acting as standins for your Dungeonmaster.
Suffice it to say, I had a blast with this movie. Honor Among Thieves was far better than the movie the trailers sold. It’s also a damn shame Wizards of the Coast had their issues with D&D that may have influenced some true fans to stay away. Which is a damn shame because this movie is a love letter to gamers of all ages. Top to bottom the cast is great playing their respective roles and character functions with aplomb. It’s a grand fantasy with the scale of The Lord of the Rings but the fun and excitement of a heist movie like Ocean’s 11 with the action of an Indiana Jones adventure (one of the good ones). My lone complaint really is that the film feels a little long and could have been tightened up a bit, but that’s a small triviality compared to the rest of the show. I do hope this film takes off on streaming and home video, I’m ready to roll again with this particular band of heroes.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves makes off with a single-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Digital release from Paramount Home Entertainment. Pressed on a BD-100 disc, the disc is housed in a standard sturdy black case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
Reportedly shot digitally with a 4K digital intermediate, Dungeons & Dragons steals the show with a lovely 2160p 2.39:1 Dolby Vision (HDR10 included) transfer. As is the case with any D&D campaign, there are a lot of locations to showcase like Forge’s bright sunny kingdom, the nighttime graves of fallen heroes, or the fiery dungeon pits. Throughout the film, the dynamic lighting and shading was excellent allowing for a full range of shadows and deep inky black levels to come to life. Even with the most effects-heavy sequences, there’s an impressive range of depth to the image without it ever feeling like a CGI wall is right behind the actors. Specular highlights are also excellent. Details are clean and clear throughout allowing you to fully appreciate fine facial features, beard stubble, or the intricate engravings on helms and blades. Colors are robust, again each location carries its own varying primary shades but the image never falters and skin tones always look healthy and human (where applicable to said humans). Given the opening sequence at the icy prison, whites are perfectly crisp. My only iffy spot is some of the CGI could look a little weightless, a delightfully silly-looking hot air balloon is one such example, but that’s a small quibble really. On the whole, this is a terrific transfer.
Dungeons & Dragons comes in with a lively Atmos mix. I wouldn’t quite go so far as to call it reference, but it gets pretty close where it counts most. Covering the basics real quick, dialog is clean and clear throughout which is important considering the number of jokes and gags on top of the plot details. Scoring by Lorne Balfe tickles the fantasy action adventure tunes while perfectly accenting the lighthearted elements within the soundscape. Levels are spot on without any need to boost levels between scenes. The surround and height channels get plenty of attention for the biggest and most exciting action sequences - and there are a lot of those. From the opening escape to the dungeon pits to the final battle with Sofina, there are some great channel movement and object-based effects moving and swirling around the heights, front/center, side, and rear channels. Where I’m taking this one down a slight peg is that there are a few sequences that felt a little stiff keeping to the front/centers without much in the way of channel movement or atmospherics. Granted those are relatively brief moments, but I felt they stick out. Otherwise it’s a slick mix with plenty of action and LFE to enjoy.
On the bonus features front, Paramount slips all of the extras onto the 4K disc with a nice range of making-of featurettes and deleted scenes and gag reels to dig into. Some of it can be a bit talking head filler but there’s enough here to glean some knowledge about the making of the film. Most of the extended/deleted scenes are wise cuts to trim out extra jokes that weren’t needed to tighten a scene for pacing.
If you’re in need of a damn good time at the movies, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves delivers. You don’t need to play the game to feel the love and fun of gathering your best friends and allies for a grand adventure. The cast is great, the action exciting, and the jokes are genuinely funny. This should have been a bigger hit at the box office because we deserve a sequel. If you’re looking to add another disc to the collection, this 4K UHD Blu-ray conjures a beautiful transfer with an impressive Atmos mix to match. Bonus features may not be plentiful but they’re worth taking a gander at. I had a lot more fun with this than I was expecting and I can’t wait to suit up for another run at Dungeons & Dragons - Highly Recommended.