More and more, we have instant access to everything ever made, so it’s too bad we so rarely post our Summer Reviews of older films. Summer 2021 is half over, the big global games continue in Tokyo, and we’re spotlighting this 2008 low-budget indie look at fantasy role-playing gamers.
Available on YouTube and Amazon Prime, it demonstrates that you don’t have to spend a fortune to be at least somewhat entertaining.
Title: The Gamers: Dorkdom Rising
Cast and Crew
Director/Writer: Matt Vancil
Nathan Rice as Lodge/ Sir Osric
Carol Roscoe as Joanna / Daphne
Brian S. Lewis as Cass / Brother Silence / Rennard
Scott C. Brown as Leo / Flynn / Turk
Christian Doyle as Gary / Luster / Fastidian
Jennifer Page as Gary’s Professor / Luster
Geoff Gibbs as Mort Kemnon
Ed Gibbs as Hierophant
Don Early as Mort Agrippa / Mummy / Goblin
Sean K. Reynolds as Inquisitor
Chris Duppenthaler as Mark
Julia Vancil as Goblin Queen
Steve Wolbrecht as Nodwick / Voice of Drazuul
Emily Olson as Therin, Goddess of Light
Matt DeMille, Jeff L. Thomas as Paladins
John Frank Rosenblum as King Erasmus the Randomly Biased
Chris Ode as Herald
Vanessa Philipp as Healer
Paige Barnett, Cindy Messler, Erin Flood as Priestesses
Monte Cook as Bill the Cleric
Chris Ewick, Kiff Kilpatrick as Game Store Employees
Dirk Kahler as Game Store Customer
Ed Stark as Farmer
Rob Stewart as Innkeeper
Tallis Moore as Drazuul / Noble
Phil M. Price as Willem the Peasant
Robert Odekirk as King’s Guard / Zombie Ninja / Peasant
James DeMille as King / Pirate
Dee Dee DeMille as Queen
Camille Mesmer as Barmaid
Calye Shovan as Chainmail Bikini Girl
Matt Vancil as Mitch the Roommate
A dungeon master uses his gaming nights to inspire his fiction, but his friends, all at varying levels of maturity, have a habit of derailing his efforts. In an attempt to complete his campaign, he brings in a new player, who might also become his love interest.
Much of the film’s humour comes from the interactions between the real and gaming worlds, and these provide a good many genuine laughs. While many of these require some familiarity with Fantasy Role-Playing Games, others work on the strength of their own absurdity.
While the film occasionally uses cheapness to its advantage, you really have to watch it with the appropriate expectations. If you’ve seen some of their other Dead Gentlemen Gamers films, this one is better, but it still falls a little short of its engaging comic premise. Details follow:
Originality: 3/6 The premise has been used before—the same people, in fact, have made short films, before and since, using similar concepts and different characters. This one features some entertaining and original takes on the premise.
Effects: 2/6 A low budget can drive good ideas that actually work, and I can think of several low-budget and indie films that deliver impressive visuals. This film attempts a few but, for the most part, it uses the cheapest effects possible and tries to make that a virtue. The approach does not consistently work. I couldn’t help but think that some improved visuals, even low-budget improved visuals, would enhance this movie.
Production: 3/6 Some entertainment value can be derived from seeing how they realized their Epic World on a Community Theatre budget.
Acting: 3/6 The core actors are, at least, adequate, but it’s clear we’re dealing with a very indie production. I suspect the director’s friends figure prominently in the cast.
Story: 4/6 The story holds up, and features decent character development.
Emotional Response: 4/6 If you’re a gamer, a Comic/SF con-goer, or anyone involved in the larger nerd community, you will recognize these people, and you will understand the film’s humour.
Overall: 5/6 They receive a +1 bonus here for getting this thing made and then accepted by a major platform. Despite some obvious shortcomings, Dorkness Rising succeeds at being an amusing film about gamers with a few genuine character moments.
In total, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising receives 24/42