Monday, January 3, 2011

Darkon, a review

At some point, a documentary film maker thought, "What sort of project should I do?" Somehow, defying all belief or logic, the answer was, "a bunch of nerds in costumes running around beating each other with boffers." Furthermore, and incredibly, that was the right answer. Andrew Neel & Luke Meyer have done an incredible job with Darkon.

Darkon is a brilliant documentary, managing to perfectly capture both the drama and excitement LARPers (Live Action Role Play) feel with the contrasting fear, revulsion, and judgement other may feel. The film explores a storyline that occurs within the game, where a small kingdom rebels against a large and imperialistic kingdom solely on principle alone, and the lives of some of the players including the two opposing leaders.

Darkon manages to put you inside the mindset of the players while, often simultaneously, showing you just how very nerdy the whole thing is. You get caught up in the drama of the brave little kingdom that opposes such an obviously crushing entity, and the drama of their individual lives. Kenyon Wells, a successful businessman who claims Darkon as the founding experience that brought him the confidence he needs to succeed. Rebecca Thormund, a former stripper who lives with her mother. Daniel Mcarthur, an overweight and incredibly awkward young man who has trouble fitting in even among the Darkon crew, who dreams of being accepted and finding the courage to talk to a girl.

The story is mainly, however, about Skip Lipman, the D&D playing house husband and dispossessed son of a mail-order game mogul who escapes into Darkon where he is the leader of his own kingdom. Skip is an immediately lovable loser, who cares about his wife and kids, dutifully cleans house, plays a lot of D&D, and occasionally stands up to tyrants. Skip discusses his life and how he came to his present circumstances, while engineering the resistance to the despotic Mordheim kingdom. Skip is a guy who doesn't know how to quit, and this fighting spirit shows on what are positively moving battle sequences.

Darkon is a D&D geek's movie, even if you've never even considered playing  LARP. Darkon is heavily influenced by D&D, including a clan of treacherous dark elves and actual gold pieces. D&D in part of the parlance in the game, and figures into the character's personal lives as well. Skip, in particular, plays with his children and uses the miniatures to make battle plans for Darkon.

It's a worthy watch for people who don't play D&D, and for D&D players this movie is a must. Skip is now part of the lexicon, and Darkon now has a place in D&D culture. It's on the Netflix Instant watch, or you can use the links below.

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