Making a movie based on a nerdy fandom is always a tricky task. Poke too much fun and you risk alienating the small audience who will go see and appreciate your movie. Too nice and respectful and you get “Fanboys”. But with the rise of nerddom ‘Free Enterprise’ aint gonna cut it anymore. What was once the target of movies made on college campuses and spread on the web is now heading for prime time with……………………………………………….
We once more open our Larp based movie with a sacrifice upon an altar. This one doesn’t go quite so well however; not in any major way but just because the dungeon master doesn’t believe they’re putting enough heart into the whole thing. They are about to argue back with the claim that they even bought a spooky old book off ebay special but they are driven off by red neck paintballers.
Now you could argue this scene is to introduce our future antagonists but seen as how our heroes will be fighting a succubus from hell the paintballers never really amount to much. You could argue that we’re setting up that this spooky old book off e-bay is in fact a genuine magical artefact but you figure that out fairly easily later on;if the previous voice over intro didn’t already clue you in and you thought the narrator was on about some other unrelated book to the one our protagonists are holding and will be carrying for much of the movie. Heck you could argue it doesn’t even set up the pretence of a larp all that well as they will be bringing a noob along with them for the next round who will be given a brief over view of who’s who and what’s what. In truth this is simply here to showcase what kind of movie you’re getting into. Nerds in robes, books eating peoples faces and Peter Dinklage playing a stoned rocker called Hung. It’s not the high point of the movie but it does set you up pretty well.
Unfortunately Dinklage won’t be the main star of the piece, nor will Danny Pundi who manages to get even less screen time in a part that technically goes beyond walk on but not by much. Summer Glau the other big name of the cast will get a fairly sizeable role but she’s not here yet so hold your horses or in this case hold your two halves of a cocunut. Instead we find our lead to be a doom metal rocker named Joe. Done enacting a cover of grease lightning he is promptly dumped by his girlfriend Beth for standard nerd comedy movie reasons which amount to him being a “man child and her being an “adult”.
Joe goes into a funk that results in broken hands; that are quickly forgotten, bottles of spirits; alcohol not ghosts, and power ballads on the guitar. Seeing their friend in such a state Dinklage and the other gamers do what they must to help; as in knock him out play dress up with his unconscious body and take him with them to their next larp event. The movie really begins shortly there after when they attempt to resurrect his old D&D character with the previously mentioned magic book and accidentally summon a hell beast now wearing his ex-girlfriends face. As the creature begins to sex murder it’s way through the larpers it is up to our intrepid band of unlikely heroes to stop it.
Now usually when reviewing a movie like this I might stop and spend some time explaining what all of this actually means. Like what is a “larp” or what is a “D&D” but there isn’t much point here. This is a movie made by those who larp for those who larp or at least the heavy metal loving chunk of them. That’s not to say that you couldn’t follow it easily enough even if you’ve never dressed in furs and ran through a forest swinging a foam club while dodging bean bags of magic. Heck the movie even walks you through some of the terms but each time it does it has a joke in mind. For instance the point system for torso, limbs and head are given but only so Dinklage can whale on the lead.
That’s not to say the movie is the next Galaxy Quest however. It’s strength and it’s failing is that it runs on rule of cool. We have to explain the plot to our leads and so we have a dungeon master who happens to be fluent in ancient Sumerian so we can be given the exposition in one nice easy bite instead of watching our heroes work it out for themselves. The lovely succubus and fairy chick have to have an extended make out session and we end with a metal music video that is equal parts awesome and ridiculous; managing to be set up through dialogue on the nature of magic and yet still feel pulled out of their ass.
Now this movie struggled to find someone willing to distribute it and there is talk that the version shipped out to us muggles is a bastardized version that doesn’t hold a candle to the original. I hope we can see that one one day for in truth this does feel like a bit of an un-even mess. But it’s the fun kind of un-even mess that is only there to have a good time.