Joe (Ryan Kwanten) is going through a bad break-up, and to cheer him up, his best friends Hung (Peter Dinklage) and Eric (Steve Zahn) are taking him out of town for a weekend of LARPing, or live-action role playing. Armed only with fake weaponry and their imaginations, they prepare to take on their competitors and avoid the cruel local paintball team, but unfortunately, they have bigger problems to handle. Eric tries a spell out of an ancient spell book and accidentally awakens an evil monster which starts killing the other LARPers camped out in the forest. Together, Joe and his friends have to find a way to defeat the monster, save the world, and maybe help Joe get over his ex-girlfriend.
Knights of Badassdom has everything that a geek movie needs for success. The cast has Peter Dinklage, Danny Pudi from Community, and Summer Glau from Firefly, to only name a few, and the concept is full of possibilities. There is so much potential for comedy when people who play out epic battles are forced to actually work together and form an army.
The problem is that despite the great cast and the energy behind the performances, the script is just not funny. Too much time is spent on Joe and his girlfriend, which isn’t really that interesting, and the movie takes too long getting to the action. Structurally, the plotting is very weird, kicking off with the monster’s resurrection before establishing the main character’s relationships and showing Joe’s break-up with his girlfriend. By the time the monster starts knocking off characters, the movie has already lost steam, and the early death of Hung means that Peter Dinklage is absent from most of the big action scenes.
If I could sum up Knights of Badassdom in two words, it would be “missed opportunity.” There is so much talent in the cast. Besides the aforementioned Dinklage, Pudi, and Glau, Joshua Malina from The West Wing and Scandal shows up to play a small supporting role before being quickly killed off. I get that horror movies nowadays like to play with expectations and kill off characters who are played by big name actors, but in Knights of Badassdom, the film kills off Joshua Malina, Peter Dinklage, and Danny Pudi almost as soon as the monster shows up. I love Steve Zahn and Summer Glau, but they cannot carry the rest of the movie and inject enough laughs into this shockingly humorless script.
From what I have read, Knights of Badassdom went through a bit of a production hell with its release date pushed back numerous times, and there has been some speculation that the film was re-edited by studio executives. If that was the case, then I am sorry for everyone involved, but all I can do is critique the version of Knights of Badassdom that was released by Entertainment One. As it is, Knights of Badassdom misses the mark and fails to be entertaining as a comedy or as a niche geek film, and if this was the film that Joe Lynch intended, I don’t think it was worth the wait.
Special features include the film’s San Diego Comic-Con panel, interviews with the cast, a “hottie” montage with Summer Glau, and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
"Knights of Badassdom" is on sale April 1, 2014 and is rated R. Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror. Directed by Joe Lynch. Written by Matt Wall, Kevin Dreyfuss. Starring Peter Dinklage, Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Summer Glau.