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The D&D movie’s first trailer is stuffed with all the things that make D&D fun

Wish fulfillment of the highest order

Image: Paramount Pictures
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The highly anticipated Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves trailer is finally here after debuting at San Diego Comic-Con and, after years of exceedingly low expectations, I’m pleasantly surprised. Paramount Pictures and Hasbro’s Entertainment One team have brought to life an action-packed heist movie with a star-studded cast. And they did it by leaning in to what makes D&D so much fun — fighting monsters alongside your friends at the kitchen table.

The trailer is simply brilliant at introducing our characters and setting the stakes. The core of the party, a bard (Chris Pine) and a barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez). gather to themselves a rag-tag troupe of adventurers, including a skilled warrior (Regé-Jean Page), a powerful mage (Justice Smith), and a shape-changing druid (Sophia Lillis, who shared that she got into D&D through actual play podcasts like Critical Role). Then they proceed to wreck shit.

The shit that they wreck? Only a cavalcade of D&D’s most recognizable monsters. There are dragons aplenty, as well as a rampaging displacer beast. The mimic, disguised as a treasure chest, bares its teeth before lashing out with its sticky tongue. At one point, Lillis’ character transforms into an Owlbear, one of the franchise’s most iconic monsters that goes all the way back to first edition — and the bag of plastic “Chinasaurs” that either Dave Arneson or Gary Gygax picked up at the local drug store in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in the 1970s. There’s even a bit where our heroes purposefully leap inside a gelatinous cube.

And yes, that’s an awful lot of fan service. But that fan service is being used in very creative ways. The movie’s set-piece battles feel less like deleted scenes from Game of Thrones and more like what happens at kitchen tables all around the world on game night. Watching the action unfold I don’t see the Guardians of the Galaxy stepping up to the plate, although the banter is clearly top notch. Instead, I see all of the friends and family that I’ve played tabletop RPGs with over the years, trying — and sometimes failing — at a roll of the dice.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is set to premiere in theaters March 2023.

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