Mini-Review: Knights of Badassdom

Knights of Badassdom movie posterOn Thursday night we attended a showing of Knights of Badassdom organized by the Ace of Geeks podcast. They sold out the projection room they had secure at the AMC Van Ness 14 theatre, 152 tickets all sold to complete geeks like us. The audience brought costumes, props, and Monty Python references; it made Rocky Horror Picture Show events look a little staid.

It was a treat for all of us, I think, to see a gamer movie with real actors — unless you count Mazes and Monsters, which after all did have Tom Hanks. The four Knights of Badassdom are Tyrion Lannister, River Tam, the guy from True Blood, and the guy from Treme.  No, wait, sorry—now that I have access to IMDb to compensate for my woeful memory for names, let’s try that again:

  • Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Death at a Funeral, Game of Thrones) as Hung;
  • Summer Glau (Firefly, Serenity, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Arrow) as Gwen;
  • Steve Zahn (Treme, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dallas Buyers’ Club) as Eric; and
  • Ryan Kwanten (True Blood, Summerland) as Joe.
  • Also notable was Jimmi Simpson (House of Cards, Psych, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) who played the game-master, Ronnie Kwok.

I was not familiar with Joe Lynch, who directed, or with first-time screenwriters Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall. Clearly, though, they knew they Live-Action Role-Playing. Except for the superior quality of the props and costumes, the setting felt quite familiar. The story revolves around LARPers who accidentally summon a real demon, which then proceeds to attack unsuspecting participants in the weekend-long LARP. When the authorities fail to respond, a few brave/weirdo LARPers decide to meet the menace with steel. Hilarity ensues.

I remember that while the movie was being filmed a few years ago, some people in the gamer and LARPer community fretted that this would in fact be another Mazes and Monsters or a Revenge of the Nerds, making the hobby look stupid. I thought that Knights of Badassdom did a good job of making gentle fun of the hobby’s quirks while still making it look cool. The general footage of actual LARPer extras and staged battles looks, well, badass.

When we get to the real monsters, they’re mean and horrible and we wince because they kill some of our favourite geeks. The special effects are no more sterling than one would expect, but they get the job done competently. It’s a horror comedy, and as the lady behind us put it at the end, “The ratio of murder to LARPing was a little high.” The music is good, and the mock-documentary feel of the connecting scenes is well used to make us chuckle without diminishing the main characters.

Everybody seemed to have a good time, and I was certainly happy I’d decided to attend. As I told my husband, “The part that would be hardest to understand for some people is that no one here was perplexed by any of this,” be it LARP protocol, references to John Dee, or death metal. It made perfect sense to us — and from what I see of the few reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, to no one else. Highly recommended for gamers.

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