4K Blu-ray Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

Dungeons & Dragons is an immeasurably popular roleplaying game that did attempt to break into Hollywood over 20 years ago in a movie that rolled a one when it came to impressing critics and delivering at the box office. The premise of a band of unlikely companions embarking on a quest for one reason or another has been done time and time again, both wonderfully and woefully; however, it wouldn’t be until this year’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves that Hollywood would get it right under the D&D banner itself.

While the world of dragons and magic has been done successfully in recent years in a more serious fashion, such as Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves focuses on comedy and heart, with fluid pacing and plenty of action propelling our heroes forward throughout their journey. The film stars Chris Pine as Edgin Darvis, a bard who served as a member of the Harpers (which is a group who hide in the shadows and vow to keep the peace without looking for reward or compensation) until a Red Wizard he had arrested returned for vengeance and killed his wife. This caused Darvis to revoke his vow to the Harpers and only look out for himself and his daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman), with the help of his only friend, Holga (Michelle Rodriguez).

The trio became thieves, and eventually joined forces with a conman rogue named Forge (Hugh Grant), Forge’s mysterious partner Sofina (Daisy Head), and a wizard named Simon (Justice Smith). When Forge hears about a big score he tries to talk the team into it by letting Darvis know about a tablet that’s being held in the compound that can bring his wife back to life. Things don’t go as planned, however, and Darvis and Holga are captured during the robbery, with Darvis asking Forge to look out for his daughter until he’s able to return.

This is all explained by Darvis in an opening flashback, as he and Holga are facing the parole board after being in prison for two years after the failed heist. It’s fun, fast-paced and sets the tone for the rest of the movie right away. While there are a few serious and heartfelt moments, for the most part witty retorts and one-liners rule the day. The pair do get out of prison only to find that they’ve been betrayed, and to set things right they’ll need to build a team and find an ancient, magical relic that will help them set things right. The team sees them recruit Simon once again, as well as a druid Simon knows named Doric (Sophia Lillis), and a morally virtuous paladin Xenk Yandar (Regé-Jean Page).

The first thing to note here is that while D&D players may pick up on some inside jokes or moments that regular viewers may miss, that doesn’t mean that regular viewers just looking for a good time will be lost. There’s never a moment where you have to understand the rules of D&D in order to understand what’s happening, and the majority of jokes work whether you’re an avid player or someone who’s never rolled a 20-sided die in their life.

Appealing to both audiences equally is one of the reasons Honor Among Thieves is such a well-crafted movie. D&D players feeling like they’re watching one of their campaigns play out on the big screen in blockbuster fashion is a huge win, and those who have never played get to simply enjoy an incredibly entertaining fantasy tale about a band of unlikely allies taking on an evil that could destroy the entire world.

While it could’ve gone the simple route of just firing out jokes and action with no regard for character, Honor Among Thieves instead chooses to flesh out their characters nicely, giving each their own obstacles to overcome over the course of their quest. Each have multiple moments to shine, and there’s even a lot of heart built into the stories of supporting characters like Xenk, who isn’t in the film as much as the rest of the core party.

All of this shows that Honor Among Thieves wasn’t just thrown together to capitalize on the popularity of the D&D name. Instead, it has become one of the surprise hits of 2023 and a film that could easily spawn sequels, even though none were planned when the movie was being written. Yes, in a world where every movie seems to be looking at how it can become a cinematic universe before the first script is even written, Honor Among Thieves co-writer/co-director John Francis Daley said that no franchise was intended or planned when they made this movie, which is exactly how it should be.

Now that they’ve succeeded in delivering an enchanting, and fantastically entertaining movie, here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of Edgin and his endearing ragtag group of adventurers. Oh, and if you happened to have missed Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves while it was in theaters then I think it’s pretty clear what your next quest should be: locate and bring this 4K treasure home to your collection at your earliest convenience.

Overall Movie Score: 4.5/5

4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:

Dungeon & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves looks phenomenal in this Dolby Vision/2160p release. The details of this magical world shine through wonderfully here, and even though it’s a CGI heavy film, there’s rarely a moment when it doesn’t feel as though the characters are actually talking to corpses or running for their lives from a pudgy dragon. The fires feel alive, and the magic spells look as though they could come through your screen and into your living room. It all looks that good, which helps keep you engrossed throughout.

The soundscape is also epic in nature, bringing the world to life around you with Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround sound. There are loads of action throughout and it can be heard from all angles of the room you’re watching if your sound system is set up for it. The dialogue is clean, clear and delivered nicely through the center speaker, never battling it out with the booming score or sound effects, which do their part to test the foundations of the room you’re in if left unchecked.

Special Features:

From Dice to Dragons: Honoring the Lore – This feature is 11-minutes in length and talks about how the film came to be, with both directors and the cast talking about Dungeons & Dragons the game, and how they actually played it as a team building exercise before filming began playing as their characters from the film. It’s a fun feature, much like the rest of the ones to come, and it’s clear everyone had a lot of fun making this movie.

Rogues’ Gallery: The Heroes of Dungeons & DragonsThis feature comes in at 11 minutes, 30 seconds, and sees each of our heroes showcased and talked about by the cast and directors. It’s a fun look into each of them, and we get to learn more about the characters themselves.

Fantastic Foes – This feature is 7-minutes, mainly because instead of an entire band of heroes we only have to focus on the film’s two villains. Again, great fun here learning about how each of the actors approached their roles, and how invested they got once on set.

The Bestiary – This feature is 9-minutes in length and focuses on the creatures and beasts found within the Dungeons & Dragons universe, and which were used in the film and why.

Forging the Forgotten Realms – This is an 8-minute feature that sees the crew talking about what went into creating the locales used for the film, why they were chosen and some of the challenges in picking them.

Broadswords, Battle-axes & Badass Brawls – This feature is just under 9-minutes and focuses on the special effects and stunt work in the film, some of which the main cast did themselves. Well, the stunts, not the special effects.

Gag Reel – A hefty 7-minute gag reel here, which again showcases how much fun it seemed to be on set, and how well the cast got along.

Deleted and Extended Scenes – Mostly extended scenes here, with five of those to the one deleted scene.

Paramount Pictures Presents Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein. Written by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, Michael Gilio. Starring: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Hugh Grant, Sophia Lillis, Daisy Head, Regé-Jean Page, Chloe Coleman. Running time: 134 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on 4K Blu-ray: May 30, 2023.

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.