Dungeons And Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About Chris Pine’s Fantasy Movie

Justice Smith, Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

By now, we know that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has emerged as one of the biggest titles on the schedule of 2023 new movie releases. So far, the trailers have teased a smooth-talking Chris Pine and a likable cast of characters – as well as humongous monsters and hilarious jokes. Still, some longtime aficionados of the iconic tabletop game may be itching to hear what critics have to say about it before deciding whether to head out to the theater to see it. Well, the film screened at SXSW, and movie pundits have dropped their reviews to Pine’s fantasy flick. 

Considering just how much love there is for D&D, Honor Among Thieves directors/writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daly had a high bar to clear. And according to many of the early reviews, the pair (who’ve also helmed Game Night and Vacation) managed to mostly hit the mark. Lovia Gyarkye, who reviewed the film for THR, praised the filmmakers for creating a movie that draws from the franchise’s roots and exudes plenty of fun in the process. Though she had a particularly high amount of praise to shower on Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and the rest of the cast:

The actors who embody these wacky heroes and villains are the heart of Dungeons & Dragons: Their performances are lively, robust and well-judged. Pine and Rodriguez make for a particularly enjoyable duo as they volley light jabs and break the tensest moments with their teasing asides. Even as they repeat blunders and missteps, these adventurers are worth rooting for.

This film, which is not connected to the 2000 theatrical film or the made-for-TV and direct-to-DVD entries, focuses on a band of thieves who seek redemption after unwittingly helping the nefarious Red Wizard raise an army of the undead. With so much pre-established mythology surrounding this universe, one would think it’d be easy for those unfamiliar with it to get lost in the weeds. However, as Variety’s Owen Gleiberman points out, the film is very accessible to general audiences, much to its benefit: 

‘Honor Among Thieves’ is built on the edifice of D&D lore, packed with totems and characters and Easter eggs that fans of the legendary role-playing game will drink in with a connoisseur’s delight. But for those, like me, who have spent their lives avoiding anything to do with Dungeons & Dragons, the film is eminently comprehensible and, in its you’ve-seen-it-before-but-not-quite-this-way fashion, a lot of fun.

Of course, very few big-screen productions are perfect. Den of Geek’s David Crow – who gave a positive review – noted that some of the characters feel underserved by the narrative and noted that “some of the dramatic beats fall flat.” Nevertheless, Crow enjoyed the movie’s energy and gave some glowing thoughts on the director’s approach to practicality: 

It’s also more visually pleasing than at least the last five years of MCU flicks because the directors and their cinematographer Barry Peterson take the time to make the thing look polished. Filmed on locations in Northern Ireland and Iceland, D&D doesn’t quite look like a Peter Jackson movie, but it does look like an actual film. The emphasis on practical effects in some of the creature designs also enhances the movie’s appeal and occasional belly laughs.

Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daly admitted to being inspired by Jurassic Park when it came to mixing visual and practical effects. This specificity also seeped into the way they filmed stunts, as they looked to classic Jackie Chan films for inspiration. Deadline’s Valerie Complex would still argue that this Dungeons & Dragons installment still offers much of what other modern-day blockbuster films. However, in her positive review, she stated that it greatly improves upon the adaptation from 2000, especially when it comes to the way it handles its characters:

Honor Among Thieves is a welcomed improvement from the 2000 Dungeons and Dragons film that took itself too seriously and ended up bombing at the box office. The most enjoyable thing about the newest version is the relationship among its characters, particularly Edgin and Holga. He has the gift of gab and makes all the plans, and she is the muscle. They see themselves as equals and best friends with no hint of romance between them, which is so damn refreshing to see.

The filmmaking duo behind this production have spoken about their approach to the characters, including the fact that they like their “male heroes to be challenged.” That’s apparently not the only way that they try to freshen things up here though. Kate Stables, of our sister site Total Film, explained how the game adaptation doesn’t seek to channel Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones

But the film’s most engaging quality is swapping that Tolkein/Game of Thrones tone of deep seriousness for Princess Bride-style lightness and wit. There’s even positively Monty Python feel to the hilariously inept session of magical corpse-questioning that’s required to reveal the helmet’s historic hiding place.

It sounds like critics are incredibly high on this latest big-screen take on D&D and, as of this writing, the film holds a 100% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes (out of eight reviews). There’s still plenty of time for things to change, but it’s definitely sounding like Paramount Pictures has a winner on its hands. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if this high praise translates to box office success for Chris Pine and his cohorts. 

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens in theaters on March 31.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.