Since it was created in the 1970s, Dungeons & Dragons has long been a vessel for fantasy lovers to come together and dive into vivid settings and expansive worlds rooted in imaginative storytelling between friends, families or even strangers through the role-playing game. The adventure will move to the big screen soon enough, when DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES opens at AMC theatres on March 3, 2023. Ahead of that, AMC Theatres journeyed to San Diego Comic-Con 2022 to get a first look at what to expect from the release, with the filmmakers and cast sharing insights into what to expect from the movie once it hits the big screen.
On Thursday, July 21st at SDCC’s Hall H, producer Jeremy Latcham, writer/directors Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley along with the cast, including Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Sophia Lillis and Hugh Grant presented attendees with a preview and behind-the-scenes stories on the movie.
A Ragtag Group Of Thieves
The DUNGEONS & DRAGONS movie follows a group of thieves – a quick-witted bard, Edgin, played by Chris Pine, Holga, a barbarian played by Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page as a sword-wielding paladin named Xenk, Justice Smith as a magical sorcerer named Simon and Sophia Lillis as a shape-shifting druid named Doric. Each of them are part of a different class from the tabletop game players of Dungeons & Dragons play during campaigns. Co-director/writer John Francis Daley, who was behind SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING and GAME NIGHT, alongside his frequent partner Jonathan Goldstein, spoke about finding the spirit for the film.
“Anyone who plays Dungeons & Dragons [knows], it’s not just a game, it is really the feeling you get when you play the game and that is really what we tried to do here with this film – that camaraderie, family coming together as a group, facing obstacles where you don’t know where to expect, I mean so many things, much to the chagrin of the [Dungeon Master], who doesn’t know what’s going happen. That is what we wanted to capture.”
Through the quest of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, the ragtag bunch of characters will venture through situations familiar to those who have played the RPG. Much of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS cast have a variety of experiences with the game. Pine, for example, admitted he hadn’t played Dungeons & Dragons prior to preparing for the film, but quickly played with his family once he got the role. They got really into it, leading him to want to “spread the gospel of DnD”.
Practical Monster Effects Are Galore
The movie takes the world of Dungeons and Dragons to a massive scale, with the cast and crew venturing to Iceland and Northern Ireland for a “fusion” of practical and VFX effects inspired by fantasy movies of the ‘80s like The NeverEnding Story, according to the filmmakers. They recruited Legacy Effects for animatronic creatures along with Industrial Light & Magic and Moving Picture Company for its immersive VFX. Michelle Rodriguez called working with the animatronics the “coolest part” of making the movie, especially after previously spending a lot of time on the set of other films acting against green screens and talking to literal golf balls.
Two clips were shown at the San Diego Comic-Con presentation, in addition to the trailer, one of which heavily features practical corpses the thieves have to raise from their graves to learn information about a mysterious helmet that was handed away during a bloody battle. The hilarious scene involves the thieves attempting to question these incredible animatronic corpses, except the spell only allows them to ask five questions before they sink back into their eternal slumber. And many of them had quite gory and unfortunate deaths. The second clip involves a fast-paced CGI action scene, where they are dropped into a huge maze where monsters are hunting them and there are tons of chests either full of helpful weapons or even more monstrosities. The best of both. Jonathan Goldstein spoke to this element of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES.
“The chance to bring to life these creatures, these places, people we’ve only had the chance to think in our heads and to give solid matter to that. It’s such a thrill.”
The filmmakers also teased multiple villains within the movie and dozens of monsters from the game that will be true to the lore of Dungeons & Dragons.
A Bit “Spielbergian” And Monty Python
When it comes to the tone of HONOR AMONG THIEVES, Chris Pine also said during the panel, “There’s a kind of Spiebergian energy to it, it’s the films I’ve grown up with in the ‘80s that just feel open, light, buoyant and your job, like any good improv is to keep it alive.” Hugh Grant on the other hand shared that the script really reminded him of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL and was instantly excited for the “juicy” role he’d been cast for. From what we know so far, Grant’s character is from the rogue class, who are infamously sneaky in Dungeons and Dragons. Given the tone of the film we’ve been teased thus far, he’ll be an intriguing character to follow no matter how devious his motivations.
It’s been some time since Dungeons & Dragons was brought to the big screen, but following San Diego Comic-Con, we not only have a better idea about what to expect from the fantasy flick, we are also super excited to see the Paramount movie deliver what looks to be a whip-smart and overall promisingly entertaining and fun Spring 2023 release.