New D&D Movie Looks AWESOME!
Next spring will see the release of a new D&D movie! Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is set to be a blockbuster hit with talented and recognizable actors that will surely bring further acclaim to the world’s greatest roleplaying game! The movie looks to be staying quite true to the source material, and has us super excited for next March! Here’s why!
This LOOKS Like D&D
If you’re a fan of D&D and you’ve watched the trailer, you’re probably excited for this movie! That’s because, unlike in the previous D&D movie (we’ll get to that in a bit) this one has SO MANY recognizable elements from the game in its trailer. D&D has given rise to so many iconic creatures, spells, items, and concepts over the decades that when we see them brought to the silver screen we KNOW we’re looking at a D&D movie! Even if the things shown in the trailer are the only direct D&D references we get, it’s enough to thrill fans that know the game well!
First of all, the obvious: monsters! Leaping out of the pages of the Monster Manual and onto the big screen! A displacer beast, a mimic, an owlbear, orcs, giant spiders, a gelatinous cube, and (of course) several titular dragons! Clearly the movie wanted to put in as many fantastic beasts in the movie as it could as a gift for fans, and we are glad to see them included! It may be pandering, but it’s pandering to ME and nerds like me, so I’m here for it! And not only monsters, but villainous groups like Thay’s Red Wizards make an appearance, serving as the primary antagonists of the film (from what the trailers and interviews for the movie intimate). These storied and heinous villains are synonymous with dark and powerful magic in D&D, and their signature shaved heads and red robes serve them well as sinister icons.
D&D wouldn’t be D&D without magic, and this movie shows us plenty! An evil-looking person in black armor enchants their weapon with what is clearly the Green Flame Blade cantrip, the party druid infiltrates a treasure room using what appears to be dimension door, and the mage defends himself and the party from a Fireball with something akin to the Shield spell! Spells similar to, if not precisely, Thunderwave, Lightning Bolt, Time Stop, Telekinesis, Misty Step, and (this one may be a stretch, but we feel good about it) Animate Object also make appearances in the trailer! There’s also clearly several magic items throughout the trailer, though they are less identifiable. A magic horn, a magic sword, and a magic helmet seem to be the focuses in particular. And we can’t leave out class abilities like the Druid’s Wild Shape!
A common theme of most D&D campaigns is exploration of a widely varied world, and our heroes and villains are shown in a wide variety of different settings and situations throughout. We see a battle against terrifying creatures in a colosseum, a trek across snow capped mountains, looting treasure from lava-filled caverns, a descent into a dungeon, a stroll through city streets, a charmingly quaint village, and a busy battlefield… to name a few of the setpieces! Such epic and diverse setpieces imply that the movie is going to be fast-paced, taking the audience for a ride through a wealth of scenes and situations as we experience the story. So strap in!
Hollywood’s Rule of Cool
We love D&D here at MMG (obviously), and we play it A LOT! I mean, have you seen our Twitch lineup?
With that love comes a certain familiarity with the rules. We follow them as often as they’re needed, but aren’t afraid to let them slide if doing so would result in something awesome! Altering the mechanics of the game in favor of flavor is called following the “Rule of Cool” by those in the hobby, and this movie is certainly going to be doing just that!
If you’ve been reading closely, you’ll already have noticed a few ways the events in the trailer are inconsistent with official D&D rules.. Druids can only use their Wild Shape to transform into animals (and sometimes elementals with special subclass choices). They can’t turn into owlbears since they’re monstrosities, not beasts. The Shield spell won’t help you against an enemy Fireball, since it’s only effective against enemy attacks not AOE spells. The Druid infiltrates the vault using a spell that is probably a very stylized Dimension Door, which isn’t on the Druid’s spell list in 5e.
But if you aren’t aware of and looking for these inaccuracies, you may not notice them. The spells and abilities on display in the trailer are flashy, exciting, and feel as though they SHOULD be possible in a fantastic world where such abilities exist (even if particular classes wouldn’t normally have access to them). Remember, these characters don’t have to follow the rules that player characters do in D&D. Even if they follow the stereotypes of the classes and archetypes of standard D&D classes, they may have powers that don’t follow the rules… except the “Rule of Cool.”
Thoughtful and Intentional Production
This movie, or rather the idea of it, has been tossed about for years before settling at Paramount pictures. In this writer’s opinion, though, it landed in good hands. While directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Daley don’t have an extensive pedigree, they’ve been making feature films for over 10 years together. They have made primarily comedies up to this point, with Horrible Bosses and it’s sequel being their claims to fame. They have shown that they know how to utilize star power in their projects, frequently working with household names like Jason Bateman and Steve Carrell. Their work with Spiderman: Homecoming is the most encouraging, however, showing that they can handle an action movie while maintaining the strong comedic elements that earned them a place in Hollywood.
We are also thrilled at the casting! Chris Pine (Star Trek) and Michele Rodriguez (Fast & Furious) lead a team of talented, if lesser known, actors to fill the roster. Their experience working in Blockbuster action films should serve well portraying the action-packed events of a typical D&D adventure, where threats lurk around every corner! The little we see of their on-screen chemistry and banter is The casting of English romantic lead Hugh Grant may be my favorite choice in the film. Self-described in the trailer as “a con man,” Grant’s character seems to be a popular, charming, affluent public figure puppeteering events behind closed doors: a role we cannot wait to see him bring to life!
The combination of comedic directors and action actors is ideal for this project, as D&D marries those concepts as well. Every table I sit down at is rife with laughs, but every character could be moments away from breathing their last at any moment! Having experienced hands guiding the movie to make us laugh and enjoy the ride while having faces on screen capable of making us believe in the weight of each moment and the plausibility of the ridiculousness of each preposterous situation they find themselves in is going to play a large part in the movies’ potential success!
It’s GOT to Improve On The Previous Attempt
Dungeons & Dragons has only moved into the mainstream in recent years. Before, it was a hobby enjoyed by a passionate few, with truckloads of negative stereotypes surrounding the game and the people who played it. But it DID get a movie back in 2000, which delighted fans of the game… at first. Then they saw it.
The movie wasn’t bad… but by no means was it good. It wasn’t a hit with audiences who weren’t familiar with D&D, and those who loved the game didn’t see much of what they loved in the movie. The acting was unnatural as often as not, and while cinema veteran Jeremy Irons gave the villain his all, audiences weren’t sure what to make of the movie in the end. It was a flop that lost hardly made ⅓ of its budget back in the box office in the US. It has since gained a cult following as a “so bad it’s good” flick, but it was a wholly failed endeavor that kept D&D out of movie theaters for over two decades since.
So the fact that we’re seeing D&D being given a second chance in Hollywood again is a big step! And it means that Dungeons & Dragons is worth taking a risk on again! With increased exposure and popularity in the intervening years from Acquisitions Incorporated, Critical Role, Stranger Things, The Legend of Vox Machina, and countless references in popular shows like Adventure Time, Futurama, and Community, D&D is more marketable now than it has ever been! Additionally, the script must be good enough to make investors want to give a D&D movie another try, so we’re hoping we agree!
If you haven’t watched the trailer yourself, click HERE. We’d love to know what you think!
Did you notice anything we missed? What looks promising to you? Is there anything you’re worried about going in? Reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in our Discord community to fill us in!
Rob Franklin (@thedndwannabe) has been a Dungeon Master for many years, and has a deep passion for roleplaying games. He runs the MistyMountainStreaming channel on Twitch, our Misty Mountain Gaming YouTube channel, and is cohost of the Bardic Twinspiration D&D podcast. He also enjoys bourbon, From Software games, and his dog Bigby.