Tuesday, April 5, 2016

1PanelReview Knights of Badassdom

'Tis about to get medieval up in here.

What it is: Knights of Badassdom

Which is: An horror comedy/fantasy L.A.R.P. film
Directed by: Joe Lynch
Year: 2013/2014

An horror comedy film based on "live action role play"? Sign me in! Knights of Badassdom is a film from actor and director Joe Lynch, best known for his work on well-received Wrong Turn 2 as well as being one of the four directors who collaborated on the horror comedy anthology CHILLERAMA with director Adam Green. The film was written by Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall. It stars a pretty fantastic nerd dream-come true cast comprised of Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, the always great Summer Glau, the one and only Peter Dinklage, Margarita Levieva, Jimmi Simpson, Community's own Abed Danny Pudi and we even get Brian Posehn in this!! How could this go wrong?

Well, you see, a first cut of the film was originally released for  festivals back in 2013. People loved it as soon as the first trailer was showed for the audience. But when the film a company Entertainment One bought the distribution rights for a proper release in 2014 they had IndieVest Pictures complete recut the film without any involvement from Joe Lynch..

How about the plot of the film, then? The story follows three friends who love black doom metal and role playing. To help one of them get over a recent break up, they decide to "force him" to go to this big LARP event nearby. But this weird spellbook one of them bought from some shady source online turns out to be an actual dark grimoire and they summon this real succubus into our unsuspecting LARPers, this game of dungeons and dragons get frighteningly real pretty quick...
What's Good about it: Say what you want about this flick, that's a great premise right there! 
LARP has been getting some increasingly presence on TV shows and cartoons these last few years - and I mean some positive representation unlike in some 80s films - but I can't remember any other film using it like this. Mixing some fantasy and actual role play is fairly novel and fresh. And it works so well on an horror comedy film like this.
The film also features a really great cast. A lot of fun familiar actors for the genre.
And despite the heavy re-edits done by IndieVest Pictures, the plot stays coherent and the film retains a lot of laughs and thrills.
Aside from the cheesy B-movie monster finale - which was done on purpose - the film actually has some pretty decent special effects considering its small budget.
And finally, it has a really fun score composed by the great and talented Bear McCreary, which I really loved in this film. It knew when to be thrilling, action packed or just pure metal. Another solid soundtrack as you would expect from McCreary.

What's Bad about it: Knights of Badassdom does fall flat in a lot of its jokes. There's a lot of missed opportunities specially regarding the live role play angle... which begs to wonder, was this due to the cuts or not?
Knights of Badassdom was actually already filmed way back in 2010, when they first released a teaser for the film. After that complete silence for a couple of years. Then there's the whole interferences from the studio, when the film was completely recut, toning down a lot of the gore and violence. The ending is now a real mess because of it. (They just wanted to bring Peter Dinklage back on the screen since he was now a lot more popular...)
To be honest the ending is where the film was a real let down in my eyes. This "new and improved ending" felt really unsatisfying, it shows a big lack of consequences for our characters who don't even mourn their friends.. In other words, it just feels rushed at the end...

Overall: Knights of Badassdom is not unwatchable as a lot people love to say, but it certainly could have been a lot better.

And you really feel like there's a much better more coherent film in there. I would love to watch the original cut of the film. 

While Joe Lynch himself went on completely disowning the film, I still say it's a fun little film. There's some great ideas in there and a pretty fun cast. Only those that got the chance to watch the original cut can attest if the film really was any better for it or not.

I just wish there was a Director's Cut of the film...

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