I said it before. If you told 11 year old me that within my lifetime, they’d make comic book, video game, and Dungeons and Dragons movies respectable and profitable, I’d never have believed you. Sure, I’d want to time travel into this magical future. But, I’d also scoff in my usual teenage way. We grew up in a time where super hero movies got barely B-level treatment and the best cinematic version of Dungeons and Dragons was animated. Certainly nothing on par with the movie, Honor Among Thieves.
I started watching the movie a week or so ago while visiting a small Twitch streamer. For some reason, I switched to Ready Player One in the middle of the movie. I remember Aiden saying that he enjoyed Ready Player One and my ADHD pushed me in that direction. Then I got the idea to make this month’s theme (with no banner again!) Spring into Gaming and Pop Culture. My trademark honesty incoming. I played so little games recently, that I made up for it with pop culture to keep the page running. Comic books took a week. Hearthstone filled in nicely with the new BG update and a post about buying a new Switch. I think that last one maybe gave away that I ran out of ideas this month. But, Ready Player One lifted me out of the funk with a discussion of Tomb of Horrors. Then two of my kids saw GotG 3 without me and I remembered Mario and Dungeons and Dragons. May wheezes to the finish line with some pop culture reviews.
Owlbear – Relax, I haven’t gone full purist on you here. I refuse to complain about anything when it comes to this movie. Are there things I enjoyed more than others? Sure. But, I already spoke of the horrors of nerd pop culture from my youth. The fact that they made this movie and brought Dungeons and Dragons to life for me is enough. And, yes, technically, even though it technically goes against the rules of the game, it fits with the spirit of the story. The first rule I learned about D&D is have fun. Well, a druid that can wild shape into an Owlbear is hella fun.
Fat Dragon: I love that in a movie called Dungeons and Dragons, we get both a dungeon and a couple of dragons. But, more on that in the “Great” section. With most of the stuff I didn’t understand because of my unfamiliarity with the source material, I Googled and one of the first results answered my question, “Why is that dragon so fat?” I wanted a murderous hell machine bent on death and destruction of entire villages. Not some chonk too fat to leave his own lair. But, I searched and got some satisfaction from the back story I found.
Forgotten Realms: Look, I get that the Realms are D&D and that most people get their introduction to the game through them. But, I’m not about that life. Dragonlance introduced me to the game and that still resides at the top of my list of what I consider pure and true D&D. So, feel a little let down by the choice of setting. Nevertheless, I also understand that Forgotten Realms lends itself better to generic protagonists, too.
Backstory: I put this one first because I went back and forth between putting this one here or in “Decent”. I ultimately decided that I liked having the stories repeatedly told in Honor Among Thieves so that I didn’t need to Google more than I already did.
Forge: Look, I understand that some DMs enjoy the double cross and big twist reveal towards the end of the adventure to blow everyone’s mind. Honestly, some like it so much that they always go that route when designing and telling an adventure. I also respect that choice. However, I also rolled my eyes pretty hard when it became apparent that Forge double crossed everyone (spoiler alert) and I thought they set him up as the “boss” of the encounter. They redeemed themselves somewhat by making the evil red mage (spoiler alert) the actual final encounter.
Humor: Some fans, especially MCU fans recently despair at the amount of humor in the movies. I rarely understand these criticisms by purists, but I especially find this one confusing. First, an aside. Chris went to play Old School Magic the Gathering with a friend. He told me a story about a guy he played against that got so offended by seeing “new” lands that he gave him a set of old Swamps to play with. I replied, “You’re a more patient person than me. I’d have told him to shut up and play.” Now, aside from showing what a rotten person I am, this illustrates that I just believe that life is too short to waste it worrying about such nonsense. I like to laugh. The humor in these movies never feels “forced” as the nerds like to say. It just makes me laugh and enjoy the movie more.
I Know That! To be expected in such a movie, but they put all sorts of Easter Eggs in Honor Among Thieves for those of us who play the game. You know I like a good lore rabbit hole and this one had me in one of those the entire time. In addition, I found myself smiling when the red mage case meteor swarm or I realized that Simon has a bag of holding. I love when the creators love the thing that they’re creating.
Arena Battle: Along those same lines, I thought I might not enjoy the arena battle towards the end of the movie. As a DM, I dread running large scale battles like that. However, since playing Warhammer and getting a better sense for how they handle large armies, I think that will be less of an issue going forward. In any event, I liked the battle because they made it more of a corridor crawl and because of what I just said. Oh, that’ s a displacer beast. Hey! A gelatinous cube!
Dungeons and Dragons: I already mentioned this, but it bears repeating. In a movie named Dungeons and Dragons, I appreciate that they kept true to the title and gave us both a dungeon and some dragons. I see another dimension where they tried to make the movie more appealing to wider audiences and I’m glad they kept the movie for the fans.
Honor Among Thieves met my expectations. I won’t say it exceeded them. Because I heard good things going in, I expected good things. And, they gave me good things. Hell, I liked it so much, I’m not even going to give you the old, “Sure, it had flaws…” speech. I just want to finish this article by telling you again how much I enjoyed it. If you haven’t already, watch it. You will have fun.