Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quick Cut Review: "Nights of Badassdom"

Directed by: Joe Lynch
Starring: Steve Zahn, Ryan Kwanten, Summer Glau, Jimmie Simpson and Peter Dinklage
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 26 minutes  
Release Date: January 21, 2014

I really wanted to like this film because on paper this sounds like one of the greatest ideas for a comedy ever. You take the insane geek culture known as LARPing (that is Live Action Role Playing), mix in some real magic and demons, throw in a bit of Peter Dinklage for some added kick and toss it all together and what you should get is a movie that blends the best bits of Evil Dead, Game of Thrones, Ghostbusters and a number of other geektastic franchises together to make a fun adventure through the realm of the geek. But sadly Knights of Badassdom is nothing more than a series of ill-conceived ideas, lame jokes and barely decent effects that amounts to little more than a passing oddity that will be forgotten quicker than it was over. Read the full review after the break.

LARPing is the kind of crazy that still keeps modern geeks and nerds in the corner of the room at a party. No matter how cool or relevant we have become over the past couple of decades, those who LARP keep resetting the switch. For those who don’t know, when one LARPs they not only dress up and act the role, they LIVE it. What that means is that when they are dressed as a knight and are given a quest to go rescue the queen, they aren’t rolling dice, they are actually going on a quest (usually somewhere in the forest) and saving another person dressed as a queen who is being held captive by some other people making fools of themselves. If that doesn't sound like the perfect scenario for a comedy then I don't know what is.

What happened then? There has been a lot of talk that the director lost control of the final edit of the film before it was released and that the current release is not indicative of his vision. Well, I am here to tell you that is a heaping load of crap because no matter how much footage was cut out, re-edited or otherwise rearranged, Knights of Badassdom would never live up to the quality of its core idea. It never really delves deep enough into the LARP culture to give anyone unfamiliar with it a chance to understand its appeal, but worst of all is when it suddenly turns into a outright horror film with a real life succubus roaming around camp killing people it never gels the way it should, it feels more like two different films spliced together than a compatible whole.

What Knights of Badassdom was attempting to do was merge that hopelessly ridiculous culture with a “What if” scenario that has all these people who are pretending to fight dragons, demons and other mythical creatures REALLY HAVE TO FIGHT DRAGONS, DEMONS AND OTHER CREATURES. Just in case you still don’t get it, that is an amazing concept for a movie and one that should have been an instant homerun. But the finished film is so painfully unfunny, bland and hopelessly boring (not to mention aggressively gory) that you will wish you could cast a level 20 warp spell and gotten the hell out of there.

What turns this lost opportunity into full on blasphemy though is when you have Peter (Tyrion) Dinklage playing a hippie LARPer and give him absolutely nothing to do. Even worse is the fact that despite him being promoted as one of the stars he is barely in the film which begs the question of why even cast him in the first place if you plan to do nothing of interest with him and kick him to the curb halfway through the movie? Adding insult to injury is a lead actor who made such a huge impression on me that I can’t even recall his name. What this all amounts to is a film that will be remembered for one reason only which is how anyone could have gotten such an ace concept so wrong?


Knights of Badassdom should have been great, it should have gained a cult following and it could have legitimized LARPing by showing the hallowed geek activity as something fun and interesting. What it does though is condemn it to obscurity and ridicule forever since all the film accomplishes is to throw a light on something when it is at its worst and most inane.  

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