Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Who Wants to be a Hero?: Darkon movie review

Do you ever feel like you were born out of time? Does chain mail armor excite you? Do you think your name should be more along the lines of Gonwyn, Elora, or Valkor? If you could be any type of hero, who would you be?

Darkon explores the lives of those who yearn for something greater -- Live Action Role Players. Directed by Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer, this 89-minute documentary follows members of The Darkon Wargaming Club, a full-contact fantasy wargaming group in the Baltimore area. The film primarily focuses on Skip, also known as Bannor of Laconia, and his quest to overthrow the empire of Mordom, lead by Kenyon, or Keldar of Mordom.

Once the audience gets past the first few chuckles at the thought of grown-ups in tights with foam swords, they begin to see the real people behind the costumes. Neel and Meyer take great care to show the role players' everyday lives. Some are stay-at-home moms and dads. Many work 9 to 5 in an office. Through a calm camera lens, the audience sees what is a very normal, suburban existence for those in the game. How they choose to express themselves through their player characters is what makes them individuals. What all of the people of Darkon want is a little control in their lives and to make a difference.

The film is a wonderful combination of fantasy and real life. On one side there is Darkon, where honor and loyalty rule. The audience learns about the inner workings of the game. They see the campouts and the battles. They learn about the weaponry system. It may seem like a completely different world. However, soon it is apparent that the lives of those in Darkon are just like everyone else's. Role players are husbands, wives, and the barista at Starbucks. As Skip points out, "Everybody wants to be a hero."

Perhaps you have picked up a 100-sided die at Forbidden Planet and wondered, "How does this thing work?" Or maybe you've glanced through a Dungeons and Dragons book on your way to the anime. Maybe you know all of this and are a level 50 Mage named Gylggewich. In any case, Darkon is a revealing, fun film for young and old, informed and uninformed, Paladin and Dark Elf alike.

Darkon is playing Sept. 14th - 27th at Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th St. www.darkonthemovie.com

- Miyoko Conley



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