Directors: Joe Lynch
Cast Headliners: Ryan Kwanten, Summer Glau, Peter Dinklage, Steve Zahn
Original Release Date: Febuary 11th, 2014
The topic of live action roleplaying, or “larping” is often mocked in films. One can think of some of the funniest of from the comedy Role Models, a way many of us heard of this hobby. Knights of Badassdom attempts to answer that mocking jest of this pastime with a form of “playing it straight” and “being true to the fandom”, or so director Joe Lynch has claimed when promoting the film. Does it succeed? Well, it sort of does.
The main reluctant hero of the film is Joe, played by Ryan Kwanten of True Blood fame who I’m very certain was chosen more for his infamous dashing looks than his talent. He is a mechanic and metal singer. An harsh breakup leads him to joining the weird and wacky world of larp through his friends Hung (Peter Dinklage) and Eric(Steve Zahn).
Dinklage is no doubt the star of the show. He is an expert larper and quite skilled at combat. His stoner attitude and combat machismo are totally unlike any other role I have seen him in, and the few times I did laugh were when either he had lines or when Steve Zahn’s Eric mage character was being stupid. However, without spoiling it too much both are extremely underutilized. Compared to Joe, and yeesh the many other “witty” characters they stand apart. It feels almost like an insult when certain events cause a certain one of them to be gone.
Sure the world of imaginary elves and dragons has its laughs when contrasted to fun loving folks, but the tone is what kills the film. As with its promotion of the “Hung” character being the focus there is a flaw of extremely deceptive marketing. One might expect a nerdy larp experience, but what is inside is more…. I don’t even know. A greasy amalgamation of comedy, parody, playing it straight, horror, and drama. It’s all over the place in every aspect. Summer Glau as love interest Gwen is about as deep as a cup of pudding. Joe barely ever changes as a character and stays in his old way, but that’s not a good thing. Sure there’s some action and laughs, but it is in small amount.
Joe Lynch’s previous works have been either horror films or metal music videos for the most part and it definitely shows here. The special effects are cheap, the cinematography is rough, and there’s a half-baked punk aesthetic to it all including one of the most generic loud metal scores I’ve seen in my day. It seems like he literally made it in the park by his house in a few weekends, but perhaps this was intentional. It has taken over three years to come out on a straight to dvd release and I hear many cuts were made which is unfortunate. Maybe in those cuts were all the good scenes because there is little of that here. There are certain redeemable factors to it, since the very idea is unique. I’ve mentioned “horror” already but how this fake fantasy becomes a reality is one interesting thing to be seen. An potential viewer might be the semi-specific market of a hardcore Peter Dinklage fan, but be warned that this is waaaaay not a Game of Thrones. Come for the larp plot and cast, but know it’s only an hour and 20 minutes for a reason. It is dragged out past its welcome. 5.65 out of 10