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Playing Dungeons and Dragons for real
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (DVD)
Member Name: thereddragon
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (DVD)
Date: 04/06/09, updated on 08/06/09 (77 review reads)
Advantages: Geeks of the world rejoice - this is the film for you! Hilarious and fun.
Nathan Rice as Lodge / Sir Osric
Brian Lewis as Cass / Rennard / Brother Silence
Christian Doyle as Gary / Fastidian / Luster
Scott C. Brown as Leo / Turk / Flynn the Fine
This is a real oddity of a film that I had added via Product Suggestion because I totally love it and want to share it with others in the hopes that they'll enjoy it too. A 2008 independent US film made by a production company called, frighteningly, Dead Gentlemen Productions, it's not well known nor easy to find in the UK, but if you like side-splittingly funny geeky humour and/or are an avid computer gamer, you NEED to seek this film out! At present, it can be purchased at IGUK (www.iguk.co.uk) where I got mine, at £14.39 including postage as of the date of this review, and random copies can also be found on eBay.
This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and that's saying a lot when taking into consideration the sort of films I watch and review. Based on a role-playing game, it especially appeals to the PC-gamer geek that I am, but it's even funny if you're not a geek - my Significant Other who himself is a computer Luddite and only uses a PC for surfing the Net and going on eBay and has no interest in playing games, loves it. But if you are a gamer, it's specifically made by and for gamers and you are in for a rolling-on-the-floor hilarious hour and three-quarters.
The premise of the film is that it's a live enactment of a Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft type of role-playing game in which, sort of like the movie 'Tron', we go inside the game with the characters and watch them try to carry out their quest, meeting up with all sorts of villains, monsters and demons as they hack and slash (or, more often, get hacked and slashed) their way through.
We start with some dramatic opening titles depicting medieval-looking guys doing battle in a 'sword and sorcery' type of setting. Just as an evil sorcerer with a demonic laugh seems about to defeat the good guys, we suddenly cut to the present day and we see several geeks sitting around a table with various boards, cards and dice scattered around.
'Craaaaaap!!!' one of them shouts angrily. Everyone sighs dejectedly. 'Is there a reason you didn't turn those ghouls so that it would help us NOT die?' he bellows at the guy next to him. 'Oh, by the way', he says to the guy on his other side, 'Way to defend the cleric there, Conan - you lived for all of what, six seconds?' 'I didn't see YOU helping,' is the embittered retort. 'In fact I saw you DYING, like a whiny little PEASANT!!!' Lots more nerdy bickering ensues, and finally the gathering breaks up and goes their separate disgruntled ways and back to their everyday lives.
But not for long - their gamemaster, Lodge, has a big and significant scenario he wants to try out, and they are soon back at the gaming table - this time with the addition of Joanna, ex-girlfriend of Cass (the angry guy in the previous scene), joining them as a complete novice as they were not able to drum up enough male nerds to complete the team. This is met with scepticism, until Joanna demonstrates that she has very much done her homework.
Meanwhile, Gary announces the new character he's decided to play: 'I'm a wild Mage - WILD! But, you losers can call me Sorceress.' With a self-satisfied smile, he continues, 'Yes, that's right - I'm playing a chick.' Leo, sitting next to him, exclaims excitedly: 'Dude! Are you hot?' 'Seventeen charisma,' Gary says proudly. 'Wanna have sex?' Leo asks. 'Totally,' agrees Gary. 'Awesome! I seduce him! Er, her,' Leo says happily, making some notes. After an exasperated telling-off by Lodge the gamemaster, Leo declares that his character will be a Bard, and Cass informs everyone that he's going to be a monk with kung-fu powers.
Finally, the game gets underway. Our crew are now shown in the game world dressed in their sword and sorcery gear, including Gary done up as what is supposed to look like a hot blonde chick in a sexy skimpy red outfit, not a pleasant sight. They are in the process of being presented to the King ('King Erasmus the Randomly Biased') and being given their mission. 'There is a great evil in our land,' the King announces. 'Mort Kemnon has discovered an evil artefact, an accursed item known as the Mask of Death. Find him and kill him. Bring me this mask, so that its evil may not spread across our land. Go forth, noble heroes!' Well, I'm not sure about either 'noble' or 'heroes', but our raggle-taggle crew are now on their way. Untold hilarity ensues for the next hour and a half as we watch them ineptly endeavour to carry out their mission.
I simply can not recommend this crazy film highly enough. Just writing about it makes me want to watch it again. Made on a shoestring budget, it used non-professional actors, but the actors being just everyday guys and gals makes it that much more fun - you can imagine having friends like these. All of the actors and actresses are likeable endearing people you warm to quickly. They all have great comedy talent, especially 'Leo', 'Gary' and 'Cass'. The scripting and direction are totally off-the-wall wacky - it's one bit of zany dialogue and one bit of hammy acting after another. I was virtually in tears with laughter throughout all of this.
Despite the very low budget, the production values are surprisingly good and the sets and costumes of the game world are authentic enough to be convincing and enjoyable. There are even a few special effects, although obviously not of Hollywood blockbuster standard; they're more funny than impressive or glitzy.
All in all, this is a fantastic film of its kind and I would like to see more from this production company. This is actually a sequel to a 45-minute short called 'The Gamers' (2002), which had the same theme of a Dungeons and Dragons game but a different set of actors. You can see the potential in that film, but it was much better realised in the sequel - sort of like the original short was a 'rough draft' for this later full-length film
Those who like 'The Big Bang Theory' (which I love) will most likely really enjoy this - as my Significant Other remarked, 'Same nerds, different costumes'! It's the same type of fast-paced geeky humour.
The DVD is in Widescreen and the extras consist of outtakes, a short on the screening of the film, a 'Behind The Scenes' short, and a trailer. The DVD is Region-Free and Unrated (there are sexual references and some strong language, though, so not a film for small children).
The trailer can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvH4PskPZ4M
Highly recommended with several thumbs up!
Also on ciao.com as EsmeraldaDragon and ciao.co.uk as thereddragon.
Summary: A must-have for those who love computer gaming and geeky humour