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Thursday, 10 April 2014

D&DVD Of The Week: Knights Of Badassdom (2013)


Knights Of Badassdom exists in a mystical confluence, equal parts Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Animal House, Galaxy Quest and Friday 13th but never quite rises to the brilliance of its forebears.

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, wannabe doom metal singer Joe (True Blood's Ryan Kwanten) is 'kidnapped' by his two best friends - hardcore LARPers Eric (Steve Zahn) and Hung (Game Of Thrones' Peter Dinklage) - to the site of their next big event, The Battle Of Evermore.

Joe is reluctantly talked into joining the Live Action Role Playing game - helped by the presence of the lovely Gwen (Firefly's Summer Glau) - but, unfortunately, in his quest for authenticity Eric has purchased a magical tome off eBay that turns out to be a long lost book belonging to the famous Elizabethan sorcerer John Dee.

When Eric reads a page at random as a mock spell, he unknowingly summons a succubus from Hell that proceeds to feed on the souls of the LARPers.

Soon after that Joe and Gwen realise that people are dying for real and take up arms to strike back at the monstrous demon and try to save their friends.

Knights Of Badassdom starts very promisingly, with plenty of loving nods to both LARPing and Dungeons & Dragons (this certainly isn't a piss-take of geekdom), but once the horror aspect enters the mix, the film doesn't really know where to go.

Now, I'm pretty certain that I read a ways back that this release of the film was not the director's vision of the story but a cut put together by the producers. This might explain the feeling that after a while the story is just spinning its wheels.

What starts off as belly-laughing funny (very much in the style of The Big Bang Theory, but with more swearing) that had me thinking this might one day equal The Holy Grail as geeks' go-to game quote movie eventually lapses into mildly amusing, by-the-numbers fare.

There are plot holes a-plenty and a lot of undeveloped characters (for instance, what was the deal with the redneck paintballers and their major hate-on for the LARPers? Outside of explaining why the police didn't turn up at the camp site when the slaughter began, they were totally redundant to the plot), which again suggests to me to retrospective recutting of the film for whatever reason, making do with what footage was on-hand.

Don't get me wrong, it's good and certainly clever in parts, but there's an inescapable feeling that it could have been much better. There are some great characters, and great "in-story" world-building by the LARPers, but it all degenerates into a big slugfest with a rubber-suit monster.

Depending on your mood - and your attitude to random absurdity in movies - the climax of Knights Of Badassdom will either have you smirking at its ridiculousness or reaching for the remote control to turn off the television.

It's such a shame because I genuinely believe this could have been - if done right - a cult classic. As it is, I fear it will simply be swept under the carpet as a missed opportunity and promptly forgotten about.

Of course, the film's biggest mistake: not enough Dinklage.

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