Video Review: Knights of Badassdom – Doesn’t completely succubus
If you are a live-action role player (or LARPer) then you might enjoy Knights of Badassdom more than your average moviegoer, and probably even more than your average genre film fan. It’s a small film with a lot of heart and a good script, which, unfortunately, is poorly translated. Yet still, it doesn’t completely succubus.
This movie is a mash-up of old school horror, heavy metal, comedy and Dungeons and Dragons role-playing, and it is presented in a way that, I think, will be inoffensive to the LARPing community; having fun with the role-playing devotees, vice making fun of them. There are also plenty of in-jokes – many that I’m sure went over my head.
Aspiring “Doom Metal” singer, Joe (Ryan Kwanten of True Blood fame), is dumped by his girlfriend, Beth (Margarita Levieva), and is holed up in his house (which is designed to look like a castle) until his best friends, Eric (Steve Zahn) and Hung (Peter Dinklage), kidnap him and take him to a LARPing event at a secluded forest location, in hope of cheering him up.
Things go awry when Eric, a 26th Level Wizard, inadvertently summons a succubus from hell after reading a spell from a cool old book he bought on eBay. To make matters worse, the evil entity looks just like Beth and wanders amongst the LARPers, causing all manner of gruesome chaos.
The Beth-demon easily blends in with the role-playing crowd, who mostly accepter her as just a freaky vampire LARPer, until she rips their hearts out, literally. She takes out several of the players before she runs into Joe and his friends, and Eric then makes matters worse by trying to reverse the spell, but instead transforms the being into a raging Abominog monster (see Uriah Heep.)
A graphic and gross LARP massacre follows and it’s up to the three friends and their sexy new LARPer pal, Gwen (Summer Glau of Firefly fame), to save the day at the “Battle of Evermore” with some “real steel” that Hung brought along for the trip.
There is some inventive comedy in this film, like using subtitles for geek-speak and on-screen hit points that appear as a character is struck, but the real laughs are rare and inconsistent, with many of the gags being just plain stupid. In fact, a lot of the funniest material is presented as throwaways (like the “Inhaler of Doom”) while some of the dumber scenes are emphasized (like the tedious heavy metal pantomiming.)
There is a great cast in this movie, with lots of genre cred between them, but first time feature director Joe Lynch seems to have more excitement for the material than he does the skill to pull it off. The screenplay by Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall would probably have played better if it had been guided by someone with more experience points.
Knights of Badassdom is a fun enough movie, along the same caliber as Fanboys (2009), but both films could have benefited from a more disciplined hand behind their geeky wheels. Grade: 5/10
Special Features Review (Blu-ray):
- Interview with Peter Dinklage: Mostly a quick scene montage with Dinklage talking about playing the film straight and with respect to the LARP community. This feature is very short and quick.
- Interview with Steve Zahn: Zahn applauds the horror movie aspects of the film and its practical special-effects.
- Summer Glau Hottie Montage: Uhmm…isn’t this featurette’s title a little sexist? While Glau is certainly easy on the eyes, this is mostly a quick scene recap with Summer speaking to the honor system of the LARPers.
- Behind the Scenes Featurettes: A couple of quick takes on the fantasy and makeup effects and a nod to old school horror films of the seventies and eighties.
- Interview with Director Joe Lynch: This is the longest interview by far (not counting the Comic-Con featurette.) Lynch talks about wish fulfillment, his love for Tom Savini and horror films, Bear McCreary and heavy metal music, practical F/X, and how he sees the film as an origin story. Interesting and informative, this is the best feature and the director is very excited about his film.
- San Diego Comic-Con Panel (2012): This panel from Hall H at the 2012 Comic-Con shows how long it’s taken for this movie to be distributed. The panel has the director, Joe Lynch, and most of the primary cast, including Ryan Kwanten, Summer Glau and Peter Dinklage (who looks like he’d rather be anywhere but there.) This is the entire panel discussion, complete with the usual awkward and lame audience questions, like “How did you feel acting in this movie?” It even has the crazy sunglasses guy that I think I’ve seen ask a question at almost every Hall H panel I’ve ever seen. This is fun stuff, but tedious after a while.
- Knights of Badassdom Trailer: This is actually a very good trailer and makes the movie look a lot better than it really is.
Overall, there’s not much meat to these bonus features and there is no audio commentary track at all, which is odd considering how enthusiastically the director speaks about this film. Most of the featurettes are very short and appear to have been put together as an afterthought.
Photos © 2014 Entertainment One Ltd.