Friday, August 1, 2014

Knights of Badassdom Movie Review

One of my coworkers recently discovered what a geek and movie buff I am, and she insisted that I watch Knights of Badassdom (2013). I'd seen the trailer some time back and had a small interest in seeing the movie. She let me borrow her copy and I did got a kick out of it, though the weird humor is only going to appeal to a small demographic.
Joe (Ryan Kwanten) is completely disconsolate after his girlfriend Beth (Margarita Levieva) dumps him. In an attempt to break him out of his funk, Joe's geeky buddies Eric (Steve Zahn) and Hung (Peter Dinklage) drag  Joe out to the woods to join them in a large scale Dungeons & Dragons-style Live Action Role Playing (LARP) game. Trouble arises when a prop spell book that Eric purchased on the internet ends up being a genuine tome of grimoire. While pretending to raise Joe's character from death, they unwittingly conjure up a blood-lusting succubus from hell that takes on the appearance of Joe's ex-girlfriend. Joe, Erik, and Hung are joined by fellow LARPers Gwen (Summer Glau) and Gunther (Brett Gipson) to stop the demon. Unfortunately, all they have to fight with are Styrofoam prop weapons.
This cast is brilliant. The movie itself is a celebration of geeky enthusiasm, so the geek icons that appear in Knights of Badassdom make it all the more fun. Ryan Kwanten is known for playing Jason Stackhouse in HBO's hit series True Blood. Peter Dinklage is a fan favorite as Tyrion Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones series. And Summer Glau is well known for her role as River Tam in the Firefly series and as Cameron Phillips in Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. While these characters don't necessarily reference the roles that made them geek icons, the fact that they are all together will certainly excite geek viewers.
The weird humor is only going to appeal to a specific demographic. It's absolutely geek-style humor. In the scene where the three friends first meet Gwen and Gunther, Erik quips, " And Guinevere the fearless, who's plus-three ass of perfection should keep the memory of she who should not be mentioned at bay." referring to Beth the ex-girlfriend. Gwen responds to this with, " Plus-three? Clearly you underestimate my endowments." There is another scene where other LARPers are speaking in articulate Old English while subtitles appear below translating the dialogue into complaints about his wife making him clean out the garage. The dialogue is witty and funny; most of the jokes will be the most funny to people who play Role Playing Games or who know people who do. The humor seeks to point a finger at the LARP community and laugh at their strange hobby every bit as much as it makes self-referential in-jokes that only LARPers would likely understand.
This is a Horror-Comedy movie, and it clings to horror tropes like an alien facehugger to John Hurt. Clearly none of the characters in Knights of Badassdom passed Horror Movie survival 101; the monster will get you if you have sex, drink, or go off on your own and be different. For a comedy, I would have expected this to be done with some irony, much like Cabin in the Woods did, but it fell short and just ended up being a gross run-of-the-mill slasher sort of movie. The deaths were silly but gross; it looked as fake as any low budget movie gore would, but still was gross.
Knights of Badassdom was kind of fun. The story was hard to take very seriously, even for a comedy. The humor was hit or miss, but when it hit it was funny; more so if you've ever played Dungeons and Dragons. The cast was lots of fun, I understand that the main cast went through Live Action Role Playing sessions before filming and Peter Dinklage was declared the most successful out of everyone. That would probably have been more fun to watch than this movie was. Knights of Badassdom reminded me of a grittier, more crude, and very violent version of Unicorn City. Unicorn City is squeaky clean, family friendly movie that features lots of geek humor while Knights of Badassdom is a crude and bloody romp that features a lot of geek humor that is intended for more mature audiences. Both have their merit and I'm glad I saw them, but neither of them is worth more than one viewing.

If you were to make a geek-fest movie, what collection of geek icon actors would you use? The more mismatched the better! Comment below and tell me about it!

No comments:

Post a Comment