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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

COLUMN: “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” – fun for the whole party

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I’m a fairly avid Dungeons & Dragons player. It might sound corny, but there’s nothing comparable to forgetting about your worldly troubles and spending a few hours a week as someone else. So, when “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” dropped on Paramount+ recently, I knew I had to check it out. 

Not much could be worse than the last “Dungeons & Dragons” movie, which sports a whopping 3.6 out of 10 on IMDb. Luckily, 2023’s “Dungeons & Dragons” knocks its predecessor out of the water. 

The film follows the bard Edgin, who was imprisoned with his best friend Holga after a heist gone wrong. After escaping prison, the pair get the band back together in an attempt to overthrow a megalomaniacal former party member and to get Edgin’s daughter back. Hijinks ensue. 

Most D&D players who have seen the movie will tell you one thing — this plot feels like playing the game. The harebrained schemes the party comes up with and fallout from failed skill checks are experiences all players know well. I could imagine my own party coming up with a lot of the same ideas the characters did. If you roll high enough — or your Dungeon Master is nice enough — they might even work. 

Along with this, hardcore D&D fans will probably be delighted by just how closely the film plays to the actual lore of the game. The spells and magical items the characters use actually exist in-game, and the majority of the locations are accurate as well. It’s nice to see how much the filmmakers actually cared about the lore of the game instead of just using the name as a marketing gimmick. 

If you’re not a D&D nerd, don’t worry. You don’t need to know anything about the game to enjoy the fun of the film.  

For one, the action sequences are absolutely amazing. I’m not a huge action fan, mostly because I usually get lost during fight scenes. The action scenes in “Dungeons & Dragons,” however, have great blocking and camerawork so you can actually tell who’s fighting who.  

I was particularly impressed by one chase scene where a shape-shifting character morphs into different animals while she runs from castle guards. Shot to look like one long take, the sequence was both engaging and visually stunning. 

Speaking of visuals, the entire film looks beautiful. The costume and set design perfectly capture the fun fantasy vibe of the game. A mix of actual built sets and computer-generated landscapes make the world expansive yet tangible. 

The impressive effects aren’t just contained to sets. I seriously respect how many in-camera effects the filmmakers utilized, including one absolutely adorable anthropomorphic kitten animatronic. A lot of the imagery is computer-generated as well, but it isn’t overbearing. The spells and landscapes — nearly all of which were created in post-production — fit in with the world and don’t stick out to me as “fake looking.” 

“Dungeons & Dragons” is fun, pure and simple. The film sits in the same league as “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Indiana Jones” — really entertaining adventure movies that are just  satisfying to watch. It has a lot of heart, too, and I felt genuine kinship with all the characters once the credits rolled. 

So, if you missed “Dungeons & Dragons” in theaters, make sure to check it out on MGM+, Paramount+ or rent it on Amazon Prime or Apple TV. It’s a bit of an underrated gem. I genuinely had the time of my life while watching it — almost as much as actually playing the game. 

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