Victoria Film Festival
Feb 4 – Capital 6 Theatre 5 – 9:45pm
by Ed Sum
In an unassuming world moreorless dominated by board games, video games, and traditional role playing; Live Action Role Playing (LARP) is a different kind of beast. Gamers do not simply sit down to play a concept conceived on paper. They are the character. Lloyd the Conqueror
takes a fun, whimsical, look at this subgenre.
For the down-and-out Lloyd (Evan Williams, "Degrassi: The Next Generation"), he becomes the unwilling hero. LARPing, the verb, can be described to be like playing real life Cowboys and Indians or re-enacting the fantastical times of King Arthur living in Camelot. Any kind of world can be imagined, including playing vampires, and fortunately, no real blood is spilled. Combat is not always the focus. When it does, dice are rolled to resolve disputes or to indicate a hit.
After all, in LARPing, all people need is their imagination, and this film is inventive in also mixing in a little romance as well. Lloyd is your less-than average student at South Calgary Community College. Even though he considers himself dull, he's also smitten with a very attractive female, Cassandra (Teagan Moss), who teaches martial arts. But he has no time for love these days. He's in danger of losing his financial aid, and unless he and his roommates, Patrick (Jesse Reid) and Oswald (Scott Patey), come up with a killer way to pass their Medieval Literature class, they are going to lose more than their education. The comedic irony is that they have to get medieval if they want to pass.
Their devil-may-care instructor Derek (Mike Smith, "Trailer Park Boys") offers a chance for the trio to even get an A+ and Lloyd shows that he is up to the challenge.
The character building that happens in the film is not just being restricted to the games these characters play. Slowly, eventually, Lloyd, Patrick and Oswald learn a little bit more about each other during the film, and they get a lesson in how to be more socialable. The screenplay is a very well written to show how anyone can improve their life with the right kind of motivation. Here, Lloyd shows that he can be a leader of more than his gang and the guy who gets the girl. He learns that he is able to overcome adversity.
Williams has a familiar kind of charm that may lead people to make comparisons to another Canadiana product, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil
. There are a few similarities in both products’ structure, especially with the stereotypes being played out, and that is not a bad thing at all. In both, the leading villain loves to ham it up, and Smith really does steal the show with his Skeletor ("He-Man and the Masters of the Universe") type performance. Even Moss gives a wonderful spunky performance that contrasts well against Williams' nerdy style.
This film is very much all Canadian. More than half the cast is familiar in the Canadian TV scene. To name them all would be pointless. For gaming enthusiasts, The Sentry Box (Canada’s largest gaming, science fiction and fantasy book store), was used as a real life set that will bring back memories to some and nostalgia for others who moved away from Calgary for warmer climates.
The movie is also very evidently a labour of love, and the film’s finale in the field of battle is clear evidence of everyone getting in on the act, having good times on the set. After all, isn’t that what LARPing is all about? Having fun is a must, and that's this film’s beautiful central message.