I finally got to watch Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (HAT), and without burying the lede, I loved the movie. It was truly a D&D movie from start to finish.
First of all, it was a well-made film, with excellent production, good acting, a cleverly written script, and great special effects, combining visual and practical effects. The kicker here is, that added to it being a good film, it was not just a fantasy movie, but a D&D-brand-of-fantasy movie. After forty-plus years, D&D has created its own tropes in the fantasy genre that distinguish it from, say, Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones (to name two other huge fantasy brands), and the writing/directing team behind HAT seems to have understood that well, leaning into it rather than trying to dilute it.
You want examples? Sure thing. The movie starts with a character telling their backstory, which I’m sure made any Dungeon Master viewer laugh and groan at the same time. It’s set in the Forgotten Realms, and not just kinda set there but not really, but you’re in Faerun and, from the overhead map to the location references, you damn well know it. You have people with lots of different heritages walking around—orcs, half-elves, tieflings, tabaxi, aarakocra, dragonborn, halflings, humans—all interacting in mundane ways in mixed communities in a way the befits the Realms. Iconic spells! Not just a generic fireball, but meteor swarm! Plus chain lightning, Evard’s black tentacles, Bigby’s [adjective] hand, arcane gate, time stop, holy weapon, and of course, wild magic galore thanks to Simon the sorcerer. Let’s not forget the very D&D monsters straight from the Monster Manual, like the owlbear, displacer beast, gelatinous cube, and mimic, plus of course the black dragon seen in a flashback, and the big boi red dragon Thunderchaud (my favorite)! And that scene with the party speaking with the dead, specifically the five questions to that first skeleton? That is about as iconic a D&D table as it gets.
I could spend all day enumerating all the ways in which the D&D movie got it oh-so-right, but suffice it to say that it was more than a pleasant surprise, and I can’t wait to watch it again.
It made me happy.