LKMYNTS: The Gamers: Dorkness Rising.

This is one of those movies you're either going to love or hate. And that all depends on how open minded you are. If you have to have Michael Bay-level special effects and action... you'll probably hate this. But, say, if one of your favorite parts to Role Models was the live-action RPG scenes, you'll love it. This movie is about as low-budget as they get (Napoleon Dynamite looks big budget in comparison). And those are most of the reasons people seem to dislike it... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Kevin Lodge (Nathan Rice) and his friends love Pencil & Paper Role Playing Games (RPGs), especially Dungeons & Dragons. Lodge is the resident Dungeon Master (the one who runs the games), and he's come up with his own world and campaign that tends to... play with the rules a bit. This really ticks off the other gamers, including Cass (Brian Lewis), Gary (Christian Doyle), and Leo (Scott C. Brown). Cass, especially, can't deal with Lodge's rule bending, as it keeps getting everybody killed... and he refuses to not win a campaign. So the group goes out to recruit new members to help before they try the campaign again--for the third time--though all they can get is not only a "female," but a complete newbie, Joanna (Carol Roscoe). And she also happens to be Cass' ex-girlfriend. So now that they have all the players, they decide to make up new characters to get through the campaign (without using "player knowledge"). Cass plays a "Western" Monk; Gary plays a chaotic "neutral" female wizard, and keeps forgetting he's a woman, so the character is shown as both the normal actor and another (Jennifer Page); Leo decides to forgo his warrior types and try out a Bard (how different could they be?); Joanna creates her own warrior woman... with high charisma and speed and low Hit Points and strength; and Lodge goes with a holy Paladin, who all the others see as a "babysitter" so they can't do anything wrong or whatever Lodge doesn't want them doing. But the trick is... can they get through the campaign without wanting to kill each other in real life, too?

I know all that sounds really nerdy, but outside any random MST3K episode, I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. I laughed harder at this than I did at The Hangover, which itself was a very funny movie. Actually, I started off really worried with the opening scene thinking "what have I gotten myself into?" However, thankfully, you grasp what's going on pretty soon, and the movie picks up considerably after the opening scene. But here's the question: do you need to be a gamer or have knowledge of the gaming community to "get" this movie? I don't think so. Especially because of Joanna's character, the movie is very "newbie" friendly. Rules are explained clearly, so you'll get most if not all of the jokes. Sure it helps if you've played (or at least watched somebody else play) at least one game of D&D. It gives you some perspective on the film that adds a whole other level of comedy to it (because you can relate so much easier to these people).

I got so many flashbacks watching this movie, it was great. Guys playing females and forgetting what gender they were... guys always wanting to seduce other characters... characters who are one orientation ("chaotic neutral"), but act another ("chaotic evil")... DM's using paladins as babysitters... rule nazis... rolling epic fails (1)... and so much more. This is a movie made by gamers for gamers (or previous gamers), but non-gamers will enjoy it just the same, much like viewers enjoyed the world of live-action role playing in Role Models, learning rules through the eyes of Paul Rudd's character.

Though there are so many more jokes in this film. And unlike other movies where D&D nerds are portrayed as, well, nerds... where they're seen in a negative light... this film honors them and really shows how much fun they have. I was laughing almost non-stop, and I've also experienced something very rare: the after-laugh. Just thinking about certain scenes of the film the next day is making me laugh. How could you not laugh at a wizard resurrecting a cooked chicken just for the hell of it, and having the chicken go ballistic on the characters (which ends in something so classic that I don't want to spoil it). Or at characters rolling charisma to distract the paladin while they torture another character for information?

If you couldn't figure it out, the film bounces back and forth between the "real world" and the "fantasy world." Of course, the "real world" actors play their "fantasy world" counterparts, except that Luster (the female wizard) goes back-and-forth between a male and female actor/actress, depending on if he remembers to stay in character or not. The fantasy world stuff is much funnier than the real world stuff, though I suppose the real world stuff is necessary for character development (no pun intended). But the best thing is when they mix the two. You can hear the rolling of die over the fantasy world scenes at times, or there's one scene where the Bard has to use his "Bardic knowledge" about information the Dungeon Master knows, so you see a hand pop from off-screen and hand him a cue-card to read from. And then, of course, the occasional "real world" discussion as they try to figure out what to do (most times it'll flip back to real world altogether here, but there's times where it just sticks in the fantasy world). Everything just adds to the awesomeness of the film.

So obviously the script is solid. What about other things? I wouldn't say the acting is as bad as the haters make it out to be. There's one actor who is obviously bad, but he's such a small character and only in the film for maybe a total of 2 minutes. The main people are all decent. They won't be winning any Oscars, but that's not the point of the movie. I loved what the director told them in the behind-the-scenes: just pretend this is real life; if you feel that you're acting, stop and start over. The guy who plays Cass was the best of the group, and I wouldn't be surprised if he broke out into mainstream films. But the thing is, while I could easily see this film made by the Apatow gang (for instance, Leo being Seth Rogen and Cass being Paul Rudd), I think it would take away the charm of the film. I think these particular actors bring something to these characters that those others wouldn't be able to--the heart of an experienced gamer.

But what got to me more than anything else, and what tends to get to the haters, are the special effects. They're pretty bad. Like... "I made this on my home laptop" bad. It makes Sci-Fi channel visuals look great. Thankfully, they just use visuals for powers and such, and not monsters or anything (the closest it gets, which is arguably the most cringeworthy of the bunch, is a ton of flies coming from an injured demon). However, this is how I think of it: this movie is an exploration of the imagination and comedy. Why wouldn't the special effects be cheesy? Part of me believes that the cheesiness of the special effects adds to the feel of the film, while part of me just wants more superb visuals anyway. Thankfully, the movie isn't too reliant on these effects, so it's not really distracting (or detracting).

And you know every comedy has the big 'fall out' moment where something happens between the main characters, and one or more have to come crawling back with an apology. Most movies usually go for some melodramatic speech with the apology... this touching, heart-felt moment. I have to say that this film handles it much more realistically (and more hilariously)... and it takes only two lines of dialogue between characters. Okay, so there's a mini-speech with one character, but the one to another character is better.

This movie can really only be found via Netflix or Amazon, it seems... but as soon as I finished watching it (at about 1 in the morning), I went right to Amazon and placed an order. It almost immediately became one of my favorite movies, bad special effects or not. This movie is truly the heart of extreme low-budget films. It's original, hilarious, well-written, and done to the best of everybody's ability. If you go to check it out, make sure you're getting Dorkness Rising and not the original, The Gamers, as this is apparently a spin-off of that short film. If super low-budget films don't bother you, I highly recommend this film, especially if you have any knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons or P&P role playing (first or second hand). And even if you don't, check it out anyway. I swear, you will find yourself laughing. Great, great movie.

Royale With Cheese


  1. nicely done... :) I really think, that special effect are intended to be ... very good in this film. As for the rest... Total waffle !


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.