Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves 4K BluRay review — A Natural 20!

1 year ago 151

We’ve suffered. Blue lipstick, Sy-Fi channel level of CGI dragons, a Wayans brother, Jeremy Irons turning in a somehow worse performance than he did in Aragon (click if you dare…) and that was just the first film from the year 2000! Undeterred, the TSR team gave us Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God five years later, which was every bit as good as the first film (If you cut the budget in half and fired all the “talent” – again, you’ve been warned). Retreating, they waited a full 7 years to bring us Dungeons & Dragons 3: The Book of Vile Darkness. With all the charm and charisma of a Uwe Boll film, this one somehow found worse actors and kept the second movie’s CGI dragon, but hey – a guy explodes for reasons in the trailer. It’s plain to see that these movies were headed in the wrong direction, with each entry being more painful than the last. Audiences were rightly skeptical of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves upon announcement, expecting more of the same.

It’s nice to be wrong every once in a while.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | Official Trailer (2023 Movie)

It turns out, hiring competent writing teams, and then handing the movie to seasoned Directors (thank you Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley), and then picking up actors who know the difference between capturing the scene and chewing it like well-seasoned ham can raise the bar as well. Could Honor Among Thieves be the best Dungeons & Dragons movie ever? I mean…yeah, but you’d need a shovel to find where that bar sits. Is it the Dungeons & Dragons movie fans have been clamoring for all along? Yes! Since this one is worth talking about, let’s do exactly that.

The story follows bard Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) (though I’m gonna argue he’s dual-classing as a thief as well) and his party embarking on a quest to recover a magical item. Teamed up with barbarian Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez), sorcerer Simon Aumar (Justice Smith), and Tiefling druid Doric (Sophia Lillis), they set out to retrieve this item from the hands of the Harpers, of which Edgin was once a member. Once retrieved, they intend to sell it to their fence, a rogue named Forge played by Hugh Grant. Honestly, I’m just scratching the surface to say it’s an all-star cast, with literally everyone having their moment in the sun and selling it well. It’s silly, campy, and perfectly captures what it’s like to not just be in the D&D universe, but the lunacy that is a D&D campaign. There’s even a fun moment where a gelatinous cube is effectively used to “wash off” a magic restraint – brilliant. Naturally the whole plan goes poorly, and the team has to thwart a far larger threat to the Forgotten Realms.

Who is your favorite character, and how is it always Doric?

Honor Among Thieves manages to expertly walk the tightrope of fan service and being faithful to the source material. It’s almost like the writers have played the game before and understand what makes it special. Who’d have thought?

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves - Official Behind the Scenes (2023) Chris Pine

While this movie did the COVID shuffle thanks to the ever-shifting release date of several big-ticket titles, when it did hit theaters on March 31st 2023 it was a smash hit, scoring a 91% with critics and a 93% with fans. Frankly, it was far better than any of us could have imagined or expected.

For the home release we took a look at the 4K version of the movie, and wow am I glad I did as it is absolutely gorgeous. Naturally it comes in at 2160p,but I was surprised to see it preserve the same 2:39:1 aspect ratio we saw in theaters. It looks beautiful and big on my TV and I’m here for it. What makes it phenomenal? Owlbears. Owlbears make it phenomenal. Let’s dig it, adventurers.

Still taking that “highly punchable face” award.

The H.265 encode on this movie pushes the bitrate pedal to the floor, and this version of the film is better for it. Deep blacks, rich colors, and a sharpness that’ll let you read every wanted poster, tattoo, and glyph. When that owlbear comes out, however, you’ll be as wide-eyed as I was. While the fat dragon steals the show in the latter half of the movie, the visual effects on Doric’s various transformations are absolutely magnificent. It’s very clear that the team soaked a good chunk of their budget into her powers, making us all fall in love with Doric just a little bit more.

The only CGI in the film that stuck out in the theater, and now that you have the added punch of 4K, stands out even more, is the shift photography of Olga’s ex. Played by Bradly Cooper, Marlamin looks a little out of place as it seems to be a blend of graphical work and practical effects. For what has to be an inevitable sequel, I suspect we’ll see them go whole hog and replicate the incredible practical work we saw in The Lord of the Rings.

Paired up with Dolby Vision and HDR10, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is easily one of the best looking films of the year.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | Cast Plays D&D

The film is no slouch in the audio department. With a full Dolby Atmos encode, it will rattle the rafters with the roar of the beasts the team will encounter. There’s also a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 encode at 48 kHz at 24-bit if your receiver doesn’t support Dolby Atmos. Outside of English, you’ll also find Dolby Digital 5.1 encodes for Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese to round things out. You’ll also find subtitles for those same languages, but with Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (both traditional and simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Slovak, and Swedish – a truly rich payload of accessibility options, and one that’s greatly appreciated.

One of the best laughs in the movie, among many.

The Dolby Atmos is put to good use as well, with excellent center channel keeping dialogue front and center, warm positional audio to bring the swelling soundtrack to life, and enough bass to make you appreciate your subwoofer(s). What I appreciated most was the clean separation. I never heard anything that sounded muddy. It keeps all speakers busy, and will make you appreciate a powerful theater surround sound system.

In the 4K edition of the case you’ll find the 4K UltraHD version of the movie, of course, and an included Vudu version of the movie that you can redeem to take the movie on the go. This version doesn’t include the Blu-ray copy as well, but frankly I’m starting to wonder just how necessary that is these days. The disc itself is region free – good news if you have a region free player or live outside the States.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | An Epic Journey (2023 Movie)

Obviously you have the movie on the disc, but also included is over an hour of extras.

  • From Dice to Dragons: Honoring the Lore— Go behind-the-scenes with Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and the cast and crew to witness the thrilling journey of bringing the classic board game to life in the ultimate D&D experience.
  • Rogues’ Gallery: The Heroes of Dungeons & Dragons— Get an in-depth look at the heroes of the film as the cast delves into their characters and reveals the secrets behind bringing them to life on screen.
  • Fantastic Foes— Explore the dark side of D&D with a look at the film’s complex and fascinating villains.
  • The Bestiary— Check out the cutting-edge visual effects, prosthetics, and intricate costumes that went into the creation of the movie’s magical beings and fantastical beasts.
  • Forging the Forgotten Realms— Discover the secrets behind the exciting sets and breathtaking locations in far away lands!
  • Broadswords, Battle-axes & Badass Brawls— Dive into epic fight sequences with a behind-the-scenes look at the mind-blowing stunts and powerful weaponry that went into this heart-pumping action adventure.
  • Gag Reel— Don’t miss the hilarious gag reel with bloopers and outtakes.

Other than the gaff about D&D being a “board game”, this is one of a few movies where I voraciously consumed every minute of the bonus items and loved every minute of it. The bloopers had some honest belly laugh out loud moments. It’s also great to see folks you wouldn’t otherwise expect to be rock rollers talking about their experiences with the tabletop adventures in bringing their characters to life.

Frankly, my expectations for Honor Among Thieves were very low – you can be bruised on top of bruises, and we’d suffered enough. What we ended up with was a movie that somehow scratches the D&D itch perfectly, while also being a fantastic film for family members who think THAC0 is an error code on their car dash. It’s not only the best D&D movie ever made, but easily one of the very best movies of 2023! Could this spell the start of something truly magical? Against my better judgment, I think it just might be…

An excellent movie that is somehow also an excellent D&D movie, Honor Among Thieves is an action packed romp full to bursting with excellent acting, in-jokes and easter eggs, and a love letter to dice rollers everywhere.

PROS

  • The cast loved their roles, and it shows
  • Genuinely funny storyline
  • Careful devotion to the lore
  • Awesome CGI brings this movie to life
  • Excellent 4K/Atmos transfer for home release
  • Robust extras worth watching

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).

See below for our list of partners and affiliates:

Continue reading