Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Knights of Badassdom
Knights of Badassdom came out on DVD and Blu-ray on April 1st, so this review is late. In my defense, the screener did arrive late, although to be fair, it didn't arrive that late. The film is clearly aimed at the nerd audience, especially those into RPGs and LARPing. Will it appeal to these fans? Will it have broader appeal?
At the beginning, we hear about John Dee, a mystic from the 1500s. He wrote a book of songs to be used to summon angels, but instead they summon demons. He tried to destroy to book, but couldn't. He hid the book and for centuries it was thought to be lost, until now.
We see a group of men in red robes chanting and about to perform a human sacrifice. Only, it's not for real. Eric and his friends are LARPers (Live Action Roler Players) and it is time for the ceremony that will turn Eric into a 27th Wizard. Hung is chanting along while Reginald is playing the human sacrifice. This is still not enough to satisfy Ronnie Kwok, their game master, who declares the ceremony a failure. While they are arguing about this, two paintballers come upon their game and decide to fire away chasing them off. They are in such a rush to leave that Eric drops the book. However, when one of the paintballers tries to rip it up, it attacks him and then teleports back to Eric. (Not that he sees this happen.) He's convinced this book with make his LARPing authentic enough to guarantee Ronnie levels him up.
Back in the real world, we meet Joe, a mechanic who is rocking out to a song he wrote for Beth, his girlfriend. It's a doom metal love song. It doesn't work. In fact, she dumps him. She thinks he's a loser that doesn't have enough ambition. He thinks he's following his dreams. When he returns home, Eric and Hung immediately know what happened. They also know exactly what they need to do. They need to get him drunk and stoned till he passes out. When he wakes up, he's in the back of Eric's van and dressed up as a knight. At first, he's incredibly pissed off at his friends, but he eventually agrees, after they reminisce about role-playing back in the day.
We also see Ronnie setting up the game with his followers visiting the many locations that the LARPers will visit before the main event, the Battle of Evermore. He also tries to recruit Gwen to be his right-hand man, but she rejects him and her right-hand man, Gunther, makes sure he understands. Afterward, Eric tells Ronnie about Joe and Ronnie agrees, but only if Eric performs a 12th level resurrection spell to bring Joe's character back to life. Eric assembles his band, Hung, Gwen, Gunther, and Lando, to witness his feat of magic. He picks a random spell from John Dee's book and begins to cast. To most of them, it just seems like acting, but Joe sees a dark cloud form in the sky and then a face. It's Beth, only demonic. After the spell is completed, and Ronnie yells at Eric for unregulated use of pyrotechnics, they leave. But after they leave, a succubus appears, one that looks like Beth.
While we see our band encounter their first group of monsters, we see one of the monsters, Travis, lost in the woods. It is there he sees the Beth succubus and at first he thinks she just another LARPer. Then he thinks she's someone with a Furry fetish. You can probably guess what happens next, but it is a spoiler.
I'm not going to say Knights of Badassdom is a good movie in the traditional sense of the word. It's not going to win any major awards. That said, it certainly is a fun movie. The filmmakers were looking to make little more than an entertaining look at LARPing and what would happen if people who pretend to battle demons had to go against an actual demon. We don't get any deep insights into the human condition, but we do get see a lot of actors having fun playing their roles. Summer Glau is predictably great in her role, as was Peter Dinklage. (Although his part in the film was too short.) In fact, all of the lead actors are great, while there are many actors who have little more than cameo appearances in the film, but bring a lot to the overall quality. The film's special effects are mostly good. It's not a big budget movie, but it is not hampered by its budget either. This isn't the director's cut and the film's editing seems off. I don't know what was taken out, but I would love to see the true vision of the film.
Granted, I am in the target audience for this movie. Not only have I played D&D in the past, I still play a number of RPGs now, although I have never LARPed. I think if you are a fan of The Guild and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, then you will enjoy this.
There are a lot of extras on the Blu-ray, but most of them are 1-minute interview features. There is a longer, seven-minute interview with Joe Lynch, the director. There is also a 49-minute Comic Con Q&A panel.
The technical presentation is solid. This is a low-budget movie that features a lot of scenes at night, so it is not a visual feast, but there are also no major issues to worry about. The level of detail is great, as are the colors. The blacks are deep, without swallowing too much of the details. The night scenes are softer than the daytime scene, but not so soft that it looks bad. The audio is likewise solid, but not spectacular. The dialog is always clear and there is enough activity in the surround sound speakers, especially in the climactic battle.
The Blu-ray cost $20, which is $5 or 33% more than the DVD. That's a good deal, but not a great one.
Knights of Badassdom is a fun movie aimed at Geek Culture. If you like role-playing games or Cosplay or that surrounding culture, then you will likely like this movie enough to pick it up. The DVD and the Blu-ray don't have great extras, but they are worth the price.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-04-23