Movie Review – Knights of Badassdom (2013)

Director: Joe Lynch

Stars: Ryan Kwanten, Peter Dinklage, Summer Glau, Steve Zahn, Margarita Levieva, Jimmi Simpson, Danny Pudi

After Joe (Kwanten) is dumped by his girlfriend his best friends (Zahn & Dinklage) drag him to a LARP (live action role play) event. When they accidentally summon a demon they have to try and set things right by using the skills they have been role playing all these years.

I’m not a LARPer, but I do play Dungeons & Dragons so they’re in the same realm. I was a little wary when I first watching Knights of Badassdom because often these things are mean-spirited and show a lack of understanding of the hobby. However, I’m pleased to say that whatever digs were taken at the people who LARP were done with affection and seemed to be laughing with the community rather than at it. The cast is peppered with recognisable faces and there were moments of genuine hilarity.

But the story peters out towards the end. There are horror clichés and played out stereotypes that feel tired, and a half-hearted romance that has no emotional grounding. At times it felt like the filmmakers wanted to do a film within the world of LARPing but then forgot to actually write a decent story, and it almost seems a shame that a real demon was used because the best moments were the interactions between the characters and the different groups that participated in the event, but they were never given enough time to shine.

The effects are okay, they’re a little cheesy but I think that’s what the film was going for. But it’s a shame really. The first part of the film has some enjoyable character work and then it descends into this supernatural hunt that has no emotional resonance, and the stakes simply don’t feel real. I would have preferred it if the action had remained grounded and it actually explored the nature of LARPing and why people do it. There is some enjoyment here but not as much as there could have been, so I think it’s worth a watch but it’s not going to be the definitive film about LARPing.


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