Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Filmmakers Took A Lesson From Indiana Jones [Exclusive]

When it was announced that a new "Dungeons & Dragons" movie was on the horizon, expectations were that this iteration would attempt to take the fantasy adventure RPG to a new level of respectability. There seemed to be a promise of more high fantasy and epic storytelling that would take the material more seriously. After the full trailer came out, it's abundantly clear that there's a grandiose scale to "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" featuring plenty of creatures and obstacles for our heroes to navigate. But there's a sense of absurdity that proves the dragon tongue is still kept firmly planted in cheek. 

If it all seems a little too ridiculous, the new trailer is filled with a surprising amount of critical praise for the film, including /Film's Jacob Hall who called the film "a fantasy adventure unashamed to be about how we define love and family" in his review out of SXSW

Coming off of their hilarious adventure comedy "Game Night," writer/directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein prove once again that they know how to craft a compelling story filled with unpredictable twists and turns that keep audiences guessing. The characters in "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" are trying to figure it out as they go along, which immediately makes them more endearing and humanizes them as they navigate through fantastical realms. Recently, in a conversation with /Film's Eric Vespe, Daley and Goldstein talked about why they prefer to make their characters unpredictable and fallible, and how they took a little inspiration from one of cinema's most relatable heroes: Indiana Jones. 

'Chaos and mayhem is exactly what makes it so fun'

From the sound of it, the new "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" starring Chris Pine, Regé-Jean Page, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, and Sophia Lillis is taking full advantage of the massive levels of pure charisma exuding from its cast. Daley and Goldstein are smart to lean on their star power to tell an unconventional adventure story. As the Dungeon Masters of their own story, they want the new film to feel like anything can change with a quick fling of the wrist and a roll of the dice. Daley had this to say about the choice to leave a traditional narrative behind:

"I think there is something uniquely chaotic about the narrative of a campaign that we alluded to in this film where the plans that you think, as an audience, our characters are carrying out, when they go wrong and they have to pivot many times over, that's not necessarily what you would expect from a normal story structure."

If everything can change at a moment's notice, the characters are never really on solid ground. As long as the right balance is struck and the pieces don't fly completely off the board, the audience can relate to the unbelievable situations the characters keep finding themselves in without feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under them. Both Daley and Goldstein seem to understand where that line is. "Some could think that it makes it feel like it's all over the place, but to us, that sense of chaos and mayhem is exactly what makes it so fun," says Daley, "because you have no idea what to expect."

Did you just compare Dungeons & Dragons to Raiders of the Lost Ark?

"I don't know, I'm making this up as I go." That famous line from Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is exactly the kind of feeling to expect walking into the theater to see "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves." The fact that Spielberg's iconic archaeologist can be a major inspiration on "D&D" is remarkable. When everything can and will go wrong, it's incredibly endearing to have a sympathetic character at the center of the action who never pretends to have it all figured out. That simple guideline was crucial to striking the right tone, according to Goldstein:

"That's a hundred percent the kind of influence that's in our DNA when we make movies. That idea that yes, you're in a high adventure fantasy film, but the characters are imperfect. Except for maybe the Xenk character that Rege[-Jean Page] plays, they're very imperfect."

Rege-Jean Page's ("Bridgerton") character Xenk is a lawful, straight-laced paladin in the film that plays off of the antics of Chris Pine's character, Edgin the Bard. Pine has the same immediately relatable X-factor that Harrison Ford showcased as Indy. Pine's onscreen persona fits perfectly into what makes adventure movies inherently fun, and he thrives when he's traipsing through a story that doesn't have a real, concrete plan. It's the same swashbuckling appeal that Brendan Fraser had in the "Mummy" franchise. 

Pine may be the lead, but it's not a "D&D" movie without a team of unlikely allies that have to step up when their expertise is needed the most, something that Goldstein ties back into "Raiders of the Lost Ark." "You roll and some things you're good at, some things you're bad at. So we really wanted that to be the case, just like Indiana Jones."