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April 23, 2014

Movie Review: Knights of Badassdom (2013, Blu-ray)

I’ve never been into Dungeons and Dragons. I was never a gamer; I don’t own any hexagonal dice; I didn’t even read any fantasy novels until I was well into my 20s. But I adore going to the Renaissance Festival every year. Most times I even dress up. I love seeing people immerse themselves in any kind of experience from cosplay to LARPing. So if I enjoyed this flick, I can only imagine how much it speaks to those who take the role-playing/reenacting life more seriously than I ever have.

Knights of Badassdom stars Ryan Kwanten as Joe, a doom metal musician whose super hot girlfriend dumps him because she wants more from life. Joe’s friend and roommate, Eric (Steve Zahn), thinks he needs to get over it by joining him and their good friend, Hung (Peter Dinklage), in a Live Action Role Playing experience over the weekend. Joe reluctantly agrees.

During a LARPing ritual, Eric pulls out an ancient book and picks a random page from which to read. Unfortunately for everyone involved in this weekend’s happenings, the book is an authentic spell manual created by demons that were accidentally summoned by a monk back in the 1600s. Eric calls up a demon succubus that wreaks havoc upon the festival goers. Once they realize it’s not part of the game and that the world is in some serious shit, our band of merry pranksters must accept the terrifying truth and complete a real quest to vanquish the evil.

When I first saw ads and articles about this movie I got very excited. I love the idea of some everyday folks that play at Lord of the Rings are faced with real evil and must use their fake fighting skills to save the day. It didn’t hurt that Ryan Kwanten and Steve Zahn were two of the stars. And for the fellas (and Firefly fans) out there, Summer Glau plays Gwen who can kick some serious ass with her foam swords.

I’ve only seen Peter Dinklage in Elf and I think I might have to start watching Game of Thrones now. He immersed himself in the role of Hung with all the gusto I’ve ever seen. He is an awesome character. The game master, Ronnie (Jimmi Simpson), is another character that not only takes his title seriously but outside of the game he’s actually knowledgeable of ancient tomes and languages. Even Gunther, Gwen’s cousin, believes he lives in Medieval Times (from which he’s actually been banned for life).

Comest thou atteth me, bro. Eth.

Besides these guys, though, the rest of the characters are obviously just there to play eventual victims of the demon. I admit, though, they were a lot of fun to watch, particularly when two Kings are warring over the land and we require subtitles to translate their barbs (one is complaining about his wife making him clean out the garage because she found porn on his computer).

But just when you think this is only a Sword and Sorcery movie, the demon starts ripping EVERYONE to shreds. The deaths are brutal and bloody and made my butt pucker a couple of times. Not many characters survive until the end, people. Even a few of the main ones aren’t safe. I almost cried twice. Seriously.

The pacing slacks from time to time. The big demon make-up/costume is a tad on the cheesy side. And the story in general is pretty damned predictable. But the movie taken as a whole is a fun and hilarious ride and I was extremely entertained.

3.5 Hatchets (out of 5)

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