Looks like Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is rolling natural 20s on the dice, as it receives literal critical hits from early reviews.
The high fantasy adventure film based on the most popular tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) had a lot of challenges in its way. Aside from the stigma of the abysmal 2000 film and the direct-to-video sequels, the D&D brand recently contended with controversies linked to the Open Gaming License (OGL) that left a bad taste in the mouth of fans and creators alike.
But what did the critics have to say after watching the SXSW premiere? Check out the details below.
The film based on the most popular roleplaying game in the world received an early screening during the 2023 SXSW conference.
— Dungeons & Dragons Movie (@DnDMovie) March 11, 2023
After viewing the #SXSW premiere, critics and entertainment industry reviewers shared their reactions to the D&D movie on social media such as Twitter. There are comments that likened it to Marvel Cinematic Universe films like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers:
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves emulates the energy of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers with a chaotic story.
Daley & Goldstein deliver on humor & fantastical, continuous shots while the cast looks to be having a good time.
— The Brandalorian (@BrandonDavisBD) March 11, 2023
Others pointed out the hyperkinetic energy and chemistry between the main cast:
The new DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS movie is a whole lot of fun. Once you settle into the world, it turns into one of the most entertaining fantasy films I’ve seen in awhile. Great characters, wild quests, crazy creatures & it’s very funny. BIG recommend from me#DnDHonorAmongThieves pic.twitter.com/GOYtX3FT3b
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) March 11, 2023
Other reactions have praised how newbie friendly the film is, not requiring advanced knowledge of the lore behind the game or the Forgotten Realms setting to enjoy it:
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES is a total blast and the perfect film to open #SXSW2023! Never played the game, but it’s a fun movie for EVERYONE! Great action, VFX, really funny & a big heart! Great chemistry in cast w/ CHRIS PINE, MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ, REGE-JEAN PAGE! pic.twitter.com/UAwJ8qvMvX
— Scott Mantz (@MovieMantz) March 11, 2023
As of the time of this writing, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has a Rotten Tomatoes 100% Fresh rating on the Tomatometer, which prompted co-director Jonathan Goldstein to share the good news:
— Jonathan Goldstein (@JM_Goldstein) March 11, 2023
While this might not last for very long, this is a rare occasion where early reviewers have given a genre film a perfect score out of the gate via the popular online review aggregator. Kristy Puchko (Mashable) had this to say about the D&D film:
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has arrived at SXSW's Opening Night, and it's the kind of epic fun fans have been waiting for.
Owen Gleiberman (Variety) commented on the goofiness that actually gives the movie a heart and charm:
It’s at once cheesy and charming, synthetic and spectacular, cozily derivative and rambunctiously inventive, a processed piece of junk-culture joy that, by the end, may bring a tear to your eye.
Meanwhile, Lovia Gyarkye (The Hollywood Reporter) appreciated the nods to the game elements that fans of the TTRPG would likely enjoy:
An adaptation that will appeal to the nostalgic side of existing fans and entertain those whose eyes glaze over at the mention of Dungeon Masters, bards or druids.
These early positive reactions are certainly a welcome development for the D&D franchise. Wizards of the Coast and parent company Hasbro are going all in with building a multimedia franchise based on Dungeons & Dragons. Plans for a Paramount+ TV series to spin-off from Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves are already underway and other tie-ins such are being discussed.
But will it be enough to overcome the recent OGL 1.1 and 1.2 controversies that exploded in the gaming community? The proposed changes to the OGL and the System Reference Document (SRD) that helped bring mainstream popularity to the Dungeons & Dragons brand was universally panned by fans and third party creators. These changes were intended to expand the monetization of Dungeons & Dragons online through its future virtual tabletop (VTT) and the D&D Beyond app.
While WotC has pulled back and made changes to the proposed OGL updates, the fallout of the debacle led to groups of irate fans to call for a boycott of the new D&D movie.
Directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Regé-Jean Page, Sophia Lillis, Justice Smith, Chloe Coleman, and Daisy Head. Produced by Paramount Pictures and eOne, the film based on the fantasy RPG weaves its magic unto theaters on March 31, 2023.