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Review: Will the Real Knights of Badassdom Now Please Stand Up?

Knights of Badassdomreview score 4Knights of Badassdom’s journey to the screen has been one rife with delays and, ultimately, a creative clash.  The film hitting select screens this week is not the director’s vision – let me put that up front.  Instead, the film was re-cut by its financiers to, perhaps, reach a broader audience.  With that in mind, it’s difficult entering into a screening knowing the director had not signed off on what you’re about to see.  All you can do is take it for what it is and assess what’s there.

And what’s there is a half-cooked horror-comedy.  A vision that hasn’t reached its full potential.  The teasing of few chords to an incomplete metal ballad.  There are parts of Knights of Badassdom that work, and I like to think that’s director Joe Lynch, grinning and waving at us like the maniac he is from behind the curtain (if you’ve seen the gore-crazy Wrong Turn 2 and his contributions to Chillerama, I think “maniac” is a damn good way to describe Lynch).  And there are parts that are bafflingly clunky and just a mess.

Beating at Knights of Badassdom’s core is a good ol’ fashioned ‘80s break-up comedy as it concerns a dude (in this case Ryan Kwanten’s “Joe”) – who works in a garage and serves as the frontman for a metal band – weakened by heartache after his lady leaves him.  His pals (Steve Zahn’s “Eric” and Peter Dinklage’s “Hung”) come to his aid, pulling him out of self-defeat with booze, weed and a LARPing excursion in the woods.  There, Eric reads from a spellbook and inadvertently summons evil.  And guess what?  Joe is forced to regain his confidence to fight the powers of darkness.It’s a classic formula and it gets about “halfway there” in landing Joe’s arc.  The film attempts to throw in a new love interest (naturally) with Summer Glau’s Gwen, but the chemistry is weak.  In fact, the film’s focus on Joe buckles a bit under the weight of the other cast members (Zahn, Dinklage, Jimmi Simpson, Danny Pudi, Brett Gipson) who are all chewing the scenery leaving Joe to become a supporting player.

Amid the film’s silliness of Joe’s journey and the drama of the LARPing event, the film also serves as an Evil Dead-esque creature romp you would discover on VHS, but again, it only goes “halfway there.”  The CGI looks incomplete and the gore (which I presume was there originally, given Lynch’s track record) is viciously neutered.  Granted, there are a few choice practical FX shots (again, some looking incomplete) but we mostly get cut-aways or we see the end result of a painful, gooey death.

All of this culminates in a third act which can best be described as sloppy and, I’m assuming, is where the film was messed around with the most.  There’s a giant practical creature creation stomping about that is quite effective and cool and the movie doesn’t know how to handle it.  There's also a lot of focus on two characters we never spent all the much time with, but nearly every funny moment rests on their shoulders.  To add insult to injury, the movie just ends generically trying to tie up loose ends in the worst way possible.

The Knights of Badassdom that is being unleashed on the world this week is bad.  Not a complete atrocity – well, maybe that finale is – but it’s bad.  You can see the “good” trying to fight through, especially in the film’s first half, especially in Dinklage’s goofy performance and especially in the energy brought to the story.  It’s like trying to listen to High on Fire, until some jerk pulls up in his car with his windows rolled down and he’s got Papa Roach blasting through the speakers on KROQ.  It’s aggravating.

Here’s to hoping a director’s cut will surface.

  • chrisdvanne

    There’s so much “perhaps””, “I think”, in your review that “perhaps” I will not take it in account when I’m going to see Knights of Badassdom.
    I am still excited to see the movie and very neutral on which cut we’re gonna get. I remember the huge kerfuffle about “OMG, they edited “Fanboys”! Ask for the One True Fanboys Cut! For the fanboys!” And then that’s what came out and it was … well, it was what it was. And the subplot that was cut out, and then put back in, could have been cut out anyway.

    So, yay for geekery action comedy with geekery people in it. I don’t care which cut they use as long as it’s good. Christ, the janitor could do a cut and if it was better I could care less.

    • JudyB2

      The premise and cast (and, of course, the long wait) ensure that I’ll be checking the film out as soon as is humanly possible.

    • RTurek

      Really? A janitor could do a cut and you would not care that the original team – whose idea it was in the first place – were not involved and having their original intent intact? What is the appeal of the movie then? Genuinely curious, because what you’re saying is “just remove the filmmaker from the equation and give me something slapped together.”

      • K. Lee Adams

        @RTurek:disqus Good God, you can’t even say how you feel in a review on your site without people going nuts about it. I’ll take your word for it about this movie and skip it. BTW, love the Blood Cast.

        • RTurek

          Thank you, glad you’re listening!

          • K. Lee Adams

            @RTurek:disqus Absolutely. Up until now I’ve stayed away from most social media sites but I’m considering joining Twitter just to follow you and Clarke. Also, are you planning on uploading the new episodes of Insert Scream Here anytime soon?

          • RTurek

            Shot two more episodes this week! There will be two a month along with another video series I’m working on with my friend Erin Darling.

  • val champ

    Fans should be happy that the film is finaly being released at all . though its kind of doing a trick or treat thing waiting three years to finaly hit.

  • NicholasBJ

    I’ll settle for this 85 minutes version, it’s better than a kick in the teeth, plus it will be great to see Summer Glau wielding that sword as Gwen. (plus her outfit is really cool)

  • RTurek

    I’m seeing a lot of comments come in that I presume are coming from the “team” involved in the present cut of the film. Hi. If you thought Joe’s cut didn’t work, the purpose of this review is simply to say: Your cut doesn’t either. It’s sloppy, sporadically funny and the end is still a mess. So, there’s no side-taking. I viewed the film for what it was and perhaps everyone involved is wrong – who knows? I can’t make comparisons because I haven’t seen Joe’s intended vision, all I know is: What’s here isn’t good. There’s really no need to campaign against my review. It only shows desperation.

    Bad reviews occur at Shock all of the time but you don’t see the distributors of those films coming forward and throwing defensive comments.

    • chrisdvanne

      To this I will answer: READ MY BIO!

      You’re right, I have an interest in the movie…but maybe not what you claim ;-)

      • RTurek

        There’s a difference between defense and “clarification” which is what my comment is since many will “skip” reading the review and jump right to the numerical value I gave the film.

    • chrisdvanne

      I suggest you visit IMDb or Knights of Badassdom’s Facebook page. The abundance of repetitive and negative comments asking for Joe Lynchs coming from horror fans looks very much like a gag order. I would not go as far as to claim that online bloggers have the same kind of practices but their – perfectly understandable – loyaulty to Joe Lynch lead me to believe they are prejudiced against the movie.
      And by that I’m not saying the movie is good, I have no idea since I’ve not seen it.

      • Brian Collins

        Big difference though – the ones who are opposed to this cut version being released actually sign their names to it. Many of the ones defending the film being released this way are anonymous.

        And I don’t see the harm in telling people who may not know better that they’re paying for a compromised version of the movie. At least, in comparison to the film’s financiers pretending to be fans saying how great it is. If you’re still excited to see it even though it’s been hacked up, fine. Doesn’t mean everyone else will be.

      • RTurek

        Why do I need to visit either of those pages? Missing the point here.

        The fact of the matter is this: The director had a vision. He executed that vision. Someone came and took that vision away from him. They messed with that film and did things to it so it was not the director’s original vision.

        Horror fans want to see that vision. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve been following this movie since day one as “a film by Joe Lynch,” not as “a film from some faceless financier dude who took the film away and re-tooled it.”

        Let them be upset, they deserve to have that they were initially having.

        You, clearly being a Summer Glau fan, have every right to look forward to the film.

        My review says it’s bad. I believe that. I’d like to see Joe’s vision. If it’s bad, I’ll call it out for what it is, too.

        • chrisdvanne

          12 comments on your review so far (13 with this one). No need to thank me ;-)

          • Nick

            Uh, I like Summer as much as the next guy, but for you to think she has THAT much clout, you are mistaken.

            Even in the industry, she is a bit actor. She’s great at what she does, but she’s in too little too often to be any sort of top billing.

            As to your comment regarding her being a huge selling point… Anyone interested enough in Summer to sway their decision would already know she was involved.

            And, honestly, none of the cast can stand next to Dinklage right now. I’m honestly amazed they’re not capitalizing on that. He has much more of a broad appeal, one where his fans won’t necessarily be waiting on his next thing with baited breath, but if he’s in it there’s a good chance they’ll watch. I may have seen far more things Glau is in, but Dinklage is what would sway my decision on this.

            I think you need to try and step outside of your box with this one. You run a freaking fan site, so there’s no question where your preferences lie, but don’t forget that you’re a niche of a niche.

    • truthinfilmmaking

      I’m certain the distributor has better things to do than falsely push out positive buzz and/or respond to bloggers biased comments. I attended the North Hollywood opening and got first hand accounts from people who saw the movie in Cupertino, Dedham and Atlanta Tuesday night and they were all the same. The crowd throughly enjoyed the movie and laughed throughout. The ending drew cheers.

      Even Joe Lynch had to admit yesterday, albeit begrudgingly, that people are enjoying the film, despite his best efforts to stop them from doing so. Your sychophant relationship with this guy is really something. Have you seen this “hallowed” director’s cut? Or are you just blindly defending it? I don’t care if you didn’t like the film, but spare us your further conspiracy theories which frankly, embarrass you more than anyone else.

      • RTurek

        You must have missed the whole point of the comment you are responding to. I have not seen Joe’s cut and – it’s silly I have to repeat this for you – this criticism is based on the cut I did see and I did not care for it. I’m not alone (since you’re throwing around the ol’ “well, other people like it!” defense). If I saw Joe’s cut and I didn’t like it, you’d see a negative review here, too.

        And if you truly subscribe to “truth in filmmaking” you rightly know that studios, production companies and distributors use interns and assistants to run interviews. They’re called “plants” and they’ve been around trolling message boards since the dawn of the Internet.

  • RTurek

    Yep! That Erin Darling, indeed. We’ve been friends for a bit and wanted to do something. I think the approach to the series will be fun and informative – especially to those who want to get into horror and don’t know where to start.

    Evan’s one of the good ones out here in the horror community!

    • K. Lee Adams

      @RTurek:disqus Yeah, he’s a cool dude. Are you guys filming the new series yet? BTW, I wanted to tell you that one of my mom’s favorite movies is Maximum Overdrive, so you’re not alone in your love for it!