There is nothing I like better on a rainy afternoon than making something special for Mrs Giant and the Brood and watching a movie.
Since it's not rainy, in fact it's too dang hot I am not cooking. Sandwiches, it's what's for dinner. At least tonight. And it is too hot to sit inside for a movie. Nope not going to do it. Not even if all three of my readers beg me to. Instead, I will review a movie I've already watched. You can imagine the Giant family eating a whole roast boar right off the iron spit while we sit around the living room eyes glued to the set.
Of course this movie has to do with gaming but it's not really a movie it's a web series. A gem of a web series created in the Pacific Northwest called JourneyQuest.
The utterly delightful Emilie Rommel Shimkus as Wren.
I watched the series on line and in installments. As far as I know there are two seasons produced to date. It is a 'Dead Gentlemen' production and they have only improved with time and experience. They are the people who brought you Gamers and Gamers: The Dorkness Rising. As well as Dark Dungeons based on the 'Chick Tract' of the same name.
JourneyQuest follows the adventures of Perf the Wizard, an elfess archer named Nara, a priest (of the D&D cleric variety) named Carrow and Glorion the Lawful Stupid knight. They are on a quest (as the title suggests) and their misadventures and mishaps are entertaining in every way.
The writing is top notch and the actors play their parts very well. If anyone has played a roleplaying game sometime between midnight and six am this movie will bring back memories. The gonzo nature of the characters and sometimes incomprehensibly crazy actions mirror many late nights and early mornings.
It is produced in the Pacific Northwest and anybody from the area will recognize a few of their settings. They use the natural beauty and history of the area to great effect including filming at one of the old coastal forts (perhaps Fort Worden or Spring Canyon?). The budget is a shoe string but they really make the best of what they have and the special effects while not Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter are very serviceable.
Some of the monsters are just monsters but some of the antagonists are fully fleshed characters in themselves. The orcs are simply a hoot while still being menacing orcs and I cannot say enough about the gargoyle Roderick played by Nathan Rice. Rice manages to put a humorous sarcastic spin on his character that is marvelous and never grows old.
Perf the feckless wizard played by Christian Doyle and Nara the archer played by Anne K. Brady have the main characters driving the narrative. Although, it is more Perf than Nara doing the driving so far. Their relationship is a little bland for my taste I believe both actors are capable of better so perhaps it is the script. The relationship seems shoehorned in as Perf is actually spending the best part of the first season running or hiding. Not much time for romance when you have your robe hiked up around your knees and your feet are flying.
Carrow the cleric is perhaps the most interesting character and Brian Lewis does a good job of portraying Carrow. The cleric goes through the most amazing series of pitfalls, pratfalls and outright tragedies and still maintains his faith. That's a good cleric right there. Lewis has a good range and he puts it to work here from comedy to menacing and back in one scene and he makes it look effortless.
Glorion (played by Kevin Pitman) in game terms has the intellect and wisdom of an actual bull but that's good because it perfectly matches his outlook on life. Glorion is too brave to take the surrender of his enemies and feels a good beating is a great motivator for flagging spirits. Glorion's answer to everything involves a sword and lots of killing. He embodies the old office poster, 'The Floggings will continue until morale improves' in his interactions with others.
Besides the quest there is a plot involving the bards who are recording the quest. Both of the main bards vying for the scoop on this quest are fun to watch and as interesting as the main storyline. Emilie Rommel Shimkus and Fran Kranz (of Cabin in the Woods) play the dueling bards and their chemistry on screen is fun to watch.
In the second season they add Bob Sapp as the barbarian king of a civilized country. Sapp plays Karn to the hilt and he is truly such a hulking, muscular guy that you can imagine he could chop his way to a throne. I don't know how they got Sapp but Dead Gentlemen have my thanks and respect. I cannot imagine a better 'Conan' type.
The downsides. Well the action could be more consistent sometimes it's good sometimes just adequate. The special effects are great for the budget but the budget isn't that big and occasionally the make up is off or odd. For instance Roderick the gargoyle inexplicably changes between season one and two.
Well, what's to add? the series is looking for crowd sourced funding for season three and I would say it is well worth it. If you are a gamer and like seeing movies by people who understand and respect your hobby. This is a good series to get. If you like fantasy lighthearted and fun, this is a good series to get. If you like the Northwest and enjoy seeing how much fun folks can have dressed as elves, orcs and wizards. Well you get the idea.
If you've seen this (or other work by Dead Gentlemen Productions) leave a comment and tell me what you think. If you have a movie to review from a gamer's standpoint drop me a line in the comments. I'm all about the gaming.
Link to episode one on YouTube.
Link to the JourneyQuest season three Kickstarter.
I hold nor claim any copyright for the picture of the lovely Wren whom I almost entirely and unfairly neglected.