Monday, 17 March 2014

Knights of Badassdom (2014) Film Review

Knights of Badassdom Poster
Title: Knights of Badassdom
Director: Joe Lynch
Screenwriter/s: Kevin Dreyfuss, Matt Wall 
Length: 86 minutes
Year of Release: 2014 (US Release)

Knights of Badassdom is a film directed by Joe Lynch, and stars Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Summer Glau and the brilliant Peter Dinklage, and is a film about a group of LARPers (Live Action Role Players) who accidentally conjure up a demon from hell during a weekend of LARPing. 

For someone who has no interest in LARPing, I was surprised to see that I was excited for this film. It wasn't just the inclusion of Peter Dinklage that had me on for the ride; it was tone that the trailers set that really hooked me. Remember the tone for the film Kickass? That's what I was expecting from this film; gory, fast paced, loud, physical comedy. And was Knights of Badassdom everything that I expected... not really! The last two points I was correct in assigning; this film had a lot of loud, physical comedy, which for the most part I enjoyed. But fast paced comedy? Certainly not. When I think of fast paced comedy, my mind runs back to Shane Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a pretty damn good film. The film has constant back and forth, with jokes flying left, right and centre. This film has comedy and laughs which simply take too long to take effect, and a lot of the jokes wear out quickly. Peter Dinklage and Steve Zahn do have some really brilliant physical moments, but apart from them, the rest of the cast couldn't nail the comedy side to the film, which really disappointed me. 

The screenplay and plot are mediocre to say the least, yet I feel like this was the intention of the director and screenwriters. Right from the beginning, you can see that this film never takes itself seriously, and that's one of the charms that I appreciated. Despite this, we do need to address the mediocre elements of the screenplay and plot that I simply can't dismiss completely. The plot is much too predictable, and the characters are just too cliched to care for. Ryan Kwanten's character, Joe, is the main protagonist, and he's everything you expect him to be. He's a reluctant-at-first hero, who eventually finds his inner strength and helps to save the day. Nothing new and original here, and Kwanten's performance doesn't at all help the character. The rest of the characters are again, everything you expect; Summer Glau is the heroic and strong female, Dinklage is the unlikely badass and Steve Zahn is the fool. Only Dinklage and Zahn really add anything important to their characters, as expected. The rest of the ensemble is sub-par at best. In terms of the plot, it's not original in the slightest, apart from the fact that few feature length films are centred around LARPing. The film begins with our main character being dumped by his girlfriend (never seen that before!), and then being taken to a LARPing session; a good enough environment and premise for a film. When a demon is summoned to the realm, thanks to some magic performed by Zahn, we have a common slasher film, starring our demon! There are maybe 3 scenes dedicated solely to the deaths of characters whom we know nothing about, and don't care for, thanks to the demon monster. These scenes serve no purpose whatsoever, and don't add anything to the film as a whole. They're simply gory, boring scenes, which have characters losing limbs, or their hearts (literally). Despite the rare twist that I honestly didn't see coming around halfway through the film, this is an incredibly generic film, plain and simple. 

Despite the pitfalls of the plot, characters and the screenplay as a whole, I did laugh quite a few times. Yes, the jokes I did laugh at were stupid and idiotic, yet I can't deny I found them quite funny. Most of the jokes that I laughed at were delivered by Dinklage, who fit the role he was given perfectly! He embraced the generic character and turned it into something hilarious; he deserves only props for his effort. Zahn also delivered some stupid, yet strangely funny humor which I did laugh at. It was his over the top attitude that made his character enjoyable. Steve Zahn commonly embraces physical comedy, and this performance of his is no different. Dinklage and Zahn, for me, saved this film as a whole. Despite the rest of the ensemble giving lackluster performances, these two men made the viewing experience somewhat enjoyable. 

  Knights of Badassdom is a generic film to say the least; when it comes down to the screenplay, direction and character building, you've seen it before, and undoubtedly done better. Yet, it has some kind of charm that I can't really explain. It never takes itself too seriously, which is something I enjoy seeing in a comedy, and some of the humor is quite hilarious. So despite the many pitfalls, Knights of Badassdom is a decent enough film experience.

Junkie Score: 6.0
Worth Admission Price? No

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