by Nicholas Nygard
I love Dungeons and Dragons. So when my friend told me that we were invited to the midnight premiere of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves at the old theater she used to work at, just because her boss heard we play D&D, I was more than excited. I have been my group’s Dungeon Master for 4 years now and it looks like the hard work is finally paying off.
When I heard this news I immediately started to research the movie. The trailers have direct references to the game that looked amazing. Mimics, Owlbears, Red Wizards of Thay, and of course the movie is filled with meta references to the chaotic realities of running an average D&D game. But then it hit me. I remembered times when I was excited about other past film adaptations of video games.
I remember last year my brother and I were hyped for the new Uncharted movie that was announced. Only to find that Mr. Five-o-clock shadow: Nathan Drake, the main character from the games, was going to be played by 16-year-old Peter Parker: Tom Holland. The movie was… Alright. There is a Doom movie out there made in 2005 played by Dwayne Johnson. Of course, everybody knows of the infamous crappy Super Mario Bros. Movie. Thinking of all these times I had been disappointed by my favorite franchises moving to the big screen, I was becoming scared for this movie.
Dungeons & Dragons have received a number of popular games over the decades, some really good and some really bad, with Baldur’s Gate probably serving as the most popular game to date. But this was one of the few examples of D&D in TV or film. My fear was that the movie would consist of 50 percent cringey action movie dialogue like “He’s right behind me isn’t he” or “That’s gonna hurt in the morning” and then 50 percent “Hey it’s that thing from that thing you like. Get it? Reference!”. But I looked into the cast and found this movie to be very promising.
With John Francis Daley as the director, I know his experience in comedy movies is just the touch the movie needs. The main cast has multiple actors with promising comedy roles but nothing gave me more hope for this movie than Critical Role’s The Legend of Vox Machina on Amazon Prime which proved that D&D content has a place in TV and film.
For background information, Critical Role consists of a group of talented voice actors that live stream D&D. They have been playing for years with 200+ episodes and 3 campaigns. Their first campaign that started this rise in popularity recently received an animated show on Amazon Prime. They just received their second season and it is unbelievable. Currently, The Legend of Vox Machina serves as the best D&D media on the market. The show introduces newcomers to the characters and world while giving more minor details only live-stream fans would know. While the events of the show follow the events of the campaign pretty faithfully, when the narrative does stray away, it is with purpose. The music, the cast of talented voice actors, the writing, and the characterization of characters who used to only exist on paper have been insane to see be done so well. The show is the perfect balance of comedic and dramatic without a singular wrong step to tip the scales out of equilibrium. In other words, if you like fantasy: watch it.
The Legend of Vox Machina hit a home run and now come March, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is up to bat. The crowd is going wild and while I haven’t seen the best batting average from the earlier lineup, I have faith now. Or I’m wrong and I regret this, We will see.