In an age where fantastic quests are undertaken daily through streaming services, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was wise enough, through its comedy, to avoid the problem of being compared to The Lord of the Rings. With J. R. R. Tolkien’s works establishing such a high standard of storytelling, and TV series like Game of Thrones achieving almost unparalleled success, other high-fantasy movies and shows struggle to stand out. When it seems so many stories are trying to be the next fantasy epic, a sense of humor and self-awareness can go a long way.
In development since 2013, the latest attempt at a Dungeons & Dragons movie released its first trailer at Comic-Con 2022. Looking reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves introduces Chris Pine as a roguish bard who accidentally delivers a great power into evil hands. Played against the background sounds of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” rather than the usual orchestral fantasy score, the promise of a comedy-focused adventure becomes clear with deliciously over-the-top action scenes, snappy one-liners, and the proclamation of “who needs heroes…when you have thieves?” With a party of quirky protagonists, the Dungeons & Dragons movie reboot’s trailer sets up a character-driven adventure, but one that isn’t afraid to have a few laughs along the way.
The Lord of the Rings delivered some of fiction’s most emotional and breathtaking moments. From Gandalf’s battle with a Balrog to the friendship of Sam and Frodo, it’s an emotionally spellbinding journey that many fantasy stories have tried to recreate. The Lord of the Rings set a high standard and has since drawn comparisons from across the genre, as other medieval-set quests have found themselves eclipsed by the shadows of Tolkien’s books and Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations. In the case of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, the trailer displays the hallmarks of a medieval adventure with dragons, castles, and the like, but the movie doesn’t always take these things too seriously, unlike The Lord of the Rings. Its focus on humor and a very different cast of dubious D&D heroes makes the 2023 movie thankfully stand out at a time when everybody else is still trying to be Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, oversaturating the market with more drama-centric titles, including the Game of Thrones franchise and the upcoming Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power series.
D&D Is Right To Avoid Lord Of The Rings Comparisons
When Jackson’s first Lord of the Rings movie premiered in 2001, its legacy inspired countless copycats. But genre fatigue happens, especially when so many other storytellers attempt to mimic the aesthetics and success of something like the Lord of the Rings series. Unfortunately, many fantasy worlds believe they need to rely on the sentimental beats of a Tolkein-inspired world when they don’t. Popular titles like The Princess Bride and The Legend of Vox Machina found success by standing out with a sense of humor at the expense of their characters and tropes. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves didn’t need to be the next Lord of the Rings, and trying to copy what made it successful would’ve only lost the D&D movie among a sea of relatively solemn fantasy films and TV projects. Instead, the Dungeons & Dragons movie reboot created its own identity with its jokes and overblown action. It’s not wrong for a D&D movie to have fun with its versatile world, and it could be what separates it from a critical success or failure by doing something more original.
J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth may have shaped the medieval fantasy genre, but it shouldn’t solely define it. Adventures come in all types and, along the way, they can make audiences laugh, cry, or shriek. The Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves seem like two very different entertainments, and they should be.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)Release date: Sep 08, 2023