Knights of Badassdom (2014) Review
Written by: Kevin Dreyfuss, Matt Wall
Directed by: Joe Lynch
I really wanted to love this movie. I really like the director, Joe Lynch, who made the surprisingly good Wrong Turn 2: Dead End and co-stars in the great horror sitcom Holliston. He was also a great person to meet at several of the horror conventions that I went to, even going as far as to give free autographs at a place where most people charge $20. I also love Game of Thrones, Firefly, Community and True Blood, which are all required viewings for anyone that consider themselves connoisseurs of geek culture, and this film features actors from all four of these shows.
So considering all of this, I should also love Knights of Badassdom, which is a movie that had a fantastic trailer and was something that I had been looking forward to for several years. Apparently, this film had been stuck in pre-production hell for a long time, and the version of the film that has been edited together and released was not the directors version of it. Unfortunately, this is something that can be felt in the final product, especially in the last quarter of the movie which seemed rather rushed and ruined the flow of the film. So while Knights of Badassdom should have been amazing, at the end of the day it just ended up being good, which is unfortunate because it had the chance to be something truly special.
Knights of Badassdom follows a group of three friends, two of which are L.AR.P.E.R.S. (live action role-players) who like to dress up as wizards and warriors and pretend as if they are in a medieval fantasy world, complete with fake weapons and spells. One of the friend has just been dumped by his girlfriend and grieves with a bottle of booze and a bong, only to wake up to the next morning in the middle of a fake battleground surrounded by other live-action role players. Of course things end up going wrong when they accidentally conjure up a demon from Hell who just so happens to resemble the guys ex-girlfriend. So of course things get out of control quickly and the friends have to save the day and become the heroes that they were pretending to be.
Great Casting Choices – Ryan Kwanten is great as the main actor and the supporting cast is filled with great geek icons including Summer Glau, Danny Pudi and Peter Dinklage who is perfect especially considering the fact that his presence in the film mocks the seriousness of the show Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, except for maybe the character of Ronnie portrayed by actor Jimmi Simpson, much of this cast isn’t used to its greatest advantage. There was potential for this film to be hilarious, as opposed to just kind of funny.
Awesome Concept – The concept of live-action role players used to playing a fake game and pretending they are real-life warriors, forced into a situation where there’s a real life threat that they have to fight against to survive, is brilliant and should write itself. That, combined with the cast, are two of this films strengths.
Good Set-Up – The main character, played by Ryan Kwanten of True Blood fame, having just been dumped by his long time girlfriend and later having to deal with his demons (both literally and figuratively) before he can move on to his next relationship (which just so happens to be with the lovely Summer Glau), is a fantastic set up. Also, he is reconnected with his friends again while playing the live-action role-playing game, after having been a great Dungeons & Dragons player back in the day. It really is a creative movie that celebrates being a geek.
Too Short – Usually films such as these work better when they are short, however, that is not true when it comes to this film. There were so many great character actors that I believe many of them didn’t get enough screen time, with this being especially true with Community‘s Danny Pudi and Peter Dinklage. Also, the relationship between the main character and the love interest didn’t get a good amount of time to develop. When you have so many great actors and an interesting concept, take advantage of it and take your time. I heard that Joe Lynch’s cut of the film was supposed to be longer, so perhaps this negative was the studio edit’s fault.
Ending Felt Rushed – Once the demon was established and started to create some mayhem, the film seemed to rush towards the finish line. Everything about the last twenty minutes seemed tacked on and rushed, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth. Nothing pisses me off more than sitting through an entertaining movie for the first hour and then being disappointed for the next twenty minutes. What really made me angry, however, was the very last couple minutes when text explained what happened to the characters after the story concluded… not only was it written poorly, but it just didn’t seem to fit the tone of the movie and came across as being cheap. Somehow, I have the feeling that director Joe Lynch had little to do with that.
Knights of Badassdom will probably go down as one of the most disappointing movies of the year and that is not because this movie sucks, because it was in fact very entertaining, but because it should have been something amazing. Joe Lynch definitely shows great potential and should have a long career, and I can’t help but feel that the studio problems led to this film not living up to its potential, as opposed to it being Lynch’s fault.
If you are a fan of geek culture or fantasy movies, you owe it to yourself to check out this film. If you are like me, however, and have been looking forward to this movie ever since the amazing trailer was released a couple of years ago, then just prepare yourselves to feel a slight bit of disappointment. As the film stands now Knights of Badassdom is a good film that had the potential to be great, but perhaps one day Joe Lynch’s directors cut will re-surface and I’ll revisit this film and provide an updated review. Till then, consider me disappointed.