Justin does The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

“Please understand the horny Bard does not represent us.”

The Scoop: 2008 NR, directed by Matt Vancil and starring Nathan Rice, Carol Roscoe and Brian Lewis

Tagline: They’ll be taking a few liberties with the rules.

Summary Capsule: Five friends struggle to make it through one truly twisted D&D campaign

Justin’s Rating: A natural 20

Justin’s Review: Lodge is not having a good week.  As a D&D dungeon master, he’s in charge of leading a slightly psychotic group of gamers through his latest hand-crafted campaign module, but they’re dying like flies and blame him for it.  All seems lost for this group of roleplayers, until stubborn Cass demands that they try the game once more, this time with additional players to round out the party.

If I lost you at any point in the previous paragraph, it might be that you’re unfamiliar with the gaming geek culture, particularly the often-misrepresented Dungeons & Dragons crowd.  Then consider seeing The Gamers: Dorkness Rising as an educational seminar on just what makes D&D (and gaming in general) so beloved worldwide.  It’s part gaming mechanics and part roleplay, and even if D&D is completely foreign to you, chances are that you’d see echoes of sports (elaborate rules, points, etc.) and stage acting to give you a starting point for understanding.

The film is basically centered around this one game campaign, which takes place over the course of a week, which is run by Lodge (who also plays a goody two-shoes Paladin in the game), and populated by four hopeless geeks.  There’s Cass, who plays a smartmouth monk who’s always trying to twist the rules of the game to work in his favor; Gary, a “wild mage” who decides to roleplay a girl character for once (and keeps forgetting that he is a girl in the game); Leo, who gives up the role of a fighter and becomes a bard who’s very good at seducing, playing wacky tunes on his lute, and dying; and newcomer Joanna, who bucks tradition by playing a compassionate, intelligent fighter.

The banter between the group is hands-down hilarious, especially as they bicker over various points of rules minutia and argue with Lodge over what they want to do.  For his part, Lodge understands that left to their own means, the group would always choose to kill everyone, loot everything, and attempt to mate with what’s left, and so it becomes a legendary struggle to keep them on task and progress through the tale.

TG:DR transitions between the real world, with the gamers sitting around the table rolling dice and whatnot, and the fantasy world, where we can see their characters doing whatever insane act is decided.  The fantasy world looks like anything you’d find at a renaissance faire, and prepare to be underwhelmed whenever special effects (like magic) come into play – but the odd thing is that it doesn’t hurt the movie whatsoever.  Actually, the fact that the fantasy world is just a playing field for the game makes it okay that everything is so cheesy and low budget.

Most of the fun of the film – as it is in such games if you’ve ever played them with friends – comes with seeing how creative (or homicidal) the group gets when trying to figure a way out of a sticky situation.  At one point, the death-prone bard decides to offer a pile of his corpses as a barrier to protect the rest of the group, just to give the mage more time to prepare a devastating spell.  It might have been the noblest thing I’ve ever seen in a movie.

TG:DR isn’t the most slickly produced movie (it was obviously done on a tight budget), and once in a while you have to grit your teeth through some amateur acting, but I found myself incredibly surprised by the comedy flair that the small cast portrayed.  The group obviously had a blast doing this together, and it portrays D&D gaming in a pretty positive light – once the end credits roll, I’d bet that more than a few viewers would be curious enough to take a whirl at gaming themselves.

It's a good day to be a dork.

Intermission!

  • This is sort of a prequel and sort of a sequel to The Gamers, but there’s only a couple references to the previous movie, so don’t worry about it.
  • The character Nodwick is a direct nod to for the character of the comic strip of the same name “Nodwick”.
  • Flynn the Fine dies and is resurrected a total of 27 times throughout the film.
  • Munchkin the card game!  I love it!
  • Kevin’s cat, Guenhwyvar, is named after Drizzt Do’Urden’s astral black panther of the same name in stories by R. A. Salvatore.
  • At the conclusion of the first battle with the goblins the music playing in the background is the Final Fantasy victory theme.

Groovy Quotes

Daphne: You raised our dinner from the dead!

Joanna: What’s with the pirates?
Lodge: Everything’s better with pirates!

Brother Silence: As if killing the bard impresses us.

Flynn the Fine: [singing] Dear Goblin friends, dear Goblin friends, please hear my song…
[Flynn gets shot with arrows by the Goblins]
Lodge: [rolls] Yeah. Yeah, you’re dead.
Gary: [holds stopwatch] At 29 minutes, 42 seconds. New personal best, Leo.
Leo: There are so many places I could put that stopwatch!

Brother Silence: He who stumbles around in darkness with a stick is blind. But he who… sticks out in darkness… is… fluorescent!
[beat]
Lodge: Lose fifty experience.

Daphne: What did the barmaid say?
Flynn the Fine: “Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh gods, yes.”
Daphne: About Mort Kemnon, dumbass?

Gary: So, how much experience do I get for the peasant?

Luster (male): [after accidently killing Flynn] So, how much experience do I get for the bard?

[Leo’s employees are writing numerous copies of his character sheet]
Game Store Employee: How many of these do you actually need?
Leo: Let me answer that with another question: shut up!

Brother Silence: The four elements, like man alone, are weak. But together they form the strong fifth element: boron.

Flynn the Fine: What is that heavenly music?
Priestess: The Hymn to Therin. It calls to our goddess.
Leo: [voice-over] I seduce the priestess!
Lodge: [voice-over] She’s taken a vow of celibacy!
Leo: [voice-over] Dude, 20 ranks in seduction!
Flynn the Fine: [to priestess] Hey, baby. Wanna tune my mandolin?
[rolls and the priestess and Flynn leave the room]
Daphne: [to Hierophant] Please understand the horny Bard does not represent us.

The Inquisitor: Hail, Flynn the Fine.
Flynn the Fine: Hail, random creepy knight guy.
Lodge: [voice-over] Dumbass, bardic knowledge.
Flynn the Fine: Oh, yeah, right! You are totally…
Lodge: [voice-over] The Lord High Inquisitor…
Flynn the Fine: The Lord High Inquisitor…
Lodge: [voice-over] … of the Grand Illuminated Holy Order of Therin.
Flynn the Fine: [pause] What he said! Hail.

Gary: I’m a wild mage. WILD! But you losers can call me “sorceress”. That’s right. I’m playing a chick.
Leo: Dude, you hot?
Gary: Seventeen charisma.
Leo: Wanna have sex?
Gary: Totally.
Leo: Great! I seduce him, uh her.

Sir Osric: What do you have against peasants, murderous trollop?
Luster: Just a general, all-purpose loathing.

Lodge: You can’t use a lightsaber! It… it’s not even the right system!
Cass: I see no lightsaber. That would be a copyright infringement. I see a psionic spirit blade.

Lodge: [narrating] Flynn is alone with the Grimmoire.
Leo: I stab it! Wait! I BACKSTAB it!
Cass: Good call.
Lodge: Y-y-you can’t backstab it! You can’t *sneak-attack* an inanimate object!
Leo: Why not? It’s PRONE!
Lodge: It doesn’t have a discernible anatomy!
Leo: It’s got a SPINE! Doesn’t it?
[Leo rolls a fumble, causing Flynn to stab himself]
Leo: [in shock] Bards suck.
Lodge: That… was unprecedented, Leo.

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • The Gamers
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • Mazes & Monsters
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7 Comments

  1. I agree, the whole movie worked together. I wasn’t ‘underwhelmed’ by the lack of acting or special effects and actually think that was probably why this movie works so well.

    I used to RP with Vampire: The Masquerade and I remember how much fun it was to sit with other people who shared your interests and travel to a different time.

    The “Dungeons and Dragons” crowd gets a bad wrap, but I think most people, if they gave it an honest try, would find something that breaks down the monotony or rut people so often find them self’s dealing with in their life.

  2. I started watching this on Netflix, but my husband was bored so we ended up watching something else. I think I should give it another try, ’cause I was enjoying it. Also I’ll look up The Gamers. Thanks!

  3. The song is “Whip It” by Devo.

    When a problem comes along, you must whip it….

    They have a follow-up film, Gamers: The Hands of Fate. Takes a different path but has some good laughs. My main complaint with it is the language is a lot rougher.

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