Knights of Badassdom (2014)

Knights of Badassdom is a very difficult movie to review. If you are not familiar with the back story surrounding the film "let me explain. No. There is too much...let me sum up." Following a successful panel at 2011s Comic Con, Director Joe Lynch delivered what he thought was an acceptable cut of the film to producers. This film was a delicate balance between humor, and adventure, with a decent amount of Amblin-esque horror thrown in. Knights began to gain a bit of an underground buzz in nerd circles.

But then to paraphrase Genesis (the band, not the book) something happened on the way to
exhibition. Production company Indievest reportedly gutted the film, delivering a film that was supposed to appeal more to "the masses" than to it's intended core audience. They certain roles were expanded others as certain cast members grew on popularity. Others cut greatly, or all together. In doing so the feel and dynamic of the film was changed. Lynch in response, posted a simple picture to Instagram of a bandaged finger and the quote "not my cut" and attempted to get his name removed from the film. This ignited a firestorm, with most fans who clamored for the film, thoroughly pissed off over the production companys intervention. Months later, Knights was dumped on to VOD and DVD without much fan fare.

Now here's the caveat. No one outside of Lynch, the producers, and their inner circles has seen the original finished product. There is no way to know what that film actually consists of. It could be a huge steaming pile of crap. There are rumors that Lynchs vision for the film may someday see the light of day, but until that happens, this is the film we are left with. And if we are to deduce which side to take based upon this finished product - I'm inclined to side with Joe Lynch.

Now, that doesn't mean that Knights of Badassdom is a bad film. All that means is that Knights of Badassdom feels like an unfinished film. Or rather, a film that could have and should have been so much more than it is. There are seeds of greatness there. There are some legitimate funny moments. There is some fun to be had with the film. But it all seems muted. It seems tame. It's like watching the television version of a Friday the 13th film. It's entertaining, but all the good stuff is cut out. However, before we get to the stuff that was left out, let's talk about the stuff that was left in.

Joe (Ryan Kwanten) is an auto mechanic who moonlights as a metal singer. His girlfriend, Beth, wants him to be more than that and find something he's passionate about. When he protests and says that he IS passionate about auto mechanics and metal she dumps him. He heads home to tie one on with his friends Eric (Steve Zahn) and Hung (Peter Dinklage), two LARP lovers who have a hard time separating LARPing from reality. When Joe wakes up he is in the back of a van dressed in armor and ready for battle. What Joe doesn't know is that he's arrived at the battle of Evermore. It's like the LARPer Super Bowl. Eric begs Game Master Ronnie Kwok to let Joe play. Ronnie acquiesces, but only if Eric can perform a reanimation spell. Eric obliges, reading phonetically from an ancient text he purchased on ebay. Unbeknownst to Eric, or anyone else for that matter, the spell that he performs summons a succubus from hell. The succubus takes the form of Joes ex and starts feasting on LARPers. It's up to Joe, Eric, Hung, and a slew of others to save the world.

Knights of Badassdom sounds like a hell of a film. But in it's current state is feels like a half cooked egg. There are funny elements, but those elements are kept squarely in the PG realm. There are horror elements, but the frames are cut so tight that, what is meant to be obviously an orgy of blood, is nothing but an awkward jump cut. It's sad that Josh Malinas death is the funniest thing in the movie - and it's not supposed to be funny at all. I've seen movies filmed on friends home video cameras with better looking death scenes.

Truth be told, we really don't know what Knights of Badassdom could have been. But we do know what it is...and isn't. It's a film that shifts tonal direction on a whim. It's a film that forsakes a sensible third act for the biggest pile of shit since the actual shit monster in Dogma. It's not a film that has any sort of re-watch value. It's not a film that inspires any sort of good will or positive feelings as the credits role, other than "damn, that could have been so much better."

You can check out Knights of Badassdom on Netflix Instant, and I think you should. It feels like an incomplete film - which most who partook in its creation will say it is. There are flashes of brilliance contained in the film - but be aware that those flashes will soon be overtaken by some slipshod editing or some anesthetized attempt at a joke.

** stars out of *****

That's it for me. As always, thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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