Director Michael Peterson takes a stab at the world of LARPing with his first feature film, Lloyd the Conqueror. There are some rocky moments in terms of character purpose and delivery of story, but not without some strong moments to help balance out the film’s shortcomings.
Through an over world map drawn on scroll (similar to what we’ve seen recently in the show Game of Thrones or the Lord of the Rings trilogy), the opening credit sequence to the film is done right. It presents the film in a fashion that you would ask for, taking the fantasy aspect of LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) and creating a cinematic aesthetic that you could only do with movies.
Unfortunately, this direction is only taken for a short time and is forgotten throughout the film, never really making a presence again. The idea behind LARPing is a chance to immerse one’s self into a world where, within in a set of rules, you’re allowed to imagine yourself as a fantasy based character. But the film in hand feels as though it never takes that view point into consideration and presents an outsider’s perspective to the pass-time rather than those who actually do throw themselves into that world.
In the end, the idea of LARPing within the film feels more of a vehicle for the main character to go through the traditional steps of character development you’d expect a protagonist to go through. This furthermore creates the feeling that the movie is more about the idea of LARPing, rather than being about LARPing itself.
Case in point, for the very few LARPing scenes present in the film the characters spent their time waving their duct tape and foam weapons around, making it hard for the audience to actually understand what was transpiring and instead laugh at how silly the game looks. It removes the entire fantasy aspect of the game.
Despite this though, Lloyd the Conqueror still has a strong presence as a comedic film thanks to the lively performances of headlining actors Brian Posehn, Mike Smith (Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys), and a strong lengthy cameo from Harland Williams. Each actor made their characters their own providing most of the film’s laughs based on their delivery of lines (both scripted and improvised as it is Harland Williams), and provided plenty of audience-pleasing jokes and moments. In particular, the scene with Brian Posehn and Mike smith eying each other down as sworn enemies, made for some of the best minutes of the film. On top of this, it was nice to see Posehn play a role that was more than a character saying a weird thing or two before walking off camera, and seeing Smith breakaway from his claim to fame and resident of the Sunnyvale Trailer Park, Bubbles.
Not only did the film have strong comedic moments, the cinematography had a pleasing aesthetic that provided some gorgeous visuals. In particular, for the very few moments where the protagonist and his friends strap on their LARPing gear and step outside, the picture pops with colour and contrast that highlights the fantastic park and landscape locations of Calgary, Alberta. It is such an aesthetic that helped present the LARPing matches in a more dramatic nature (accompanied by a fantastic Canadian metal soundtrack). One LARPing match in particular had two factions of characters fighting against the fall foliage at magic hour. It was moments such as this that you found yourself wishing the film took the extra step and actually presented the matches as battles through the eyes of the characters, instead of showing what we as an audience see.
In the end, and to be brief, the main characters go through all the paces of character development you’d expect, the story is told with some fantastic visuals, and, once again, the Canadian metal soundtrack sets the tone for the film. Overall, Lloyd the Conqueror is a predictable film with some good moments despite its shortcomings and because of this you leave being satisfied but wishing the film took the extra step in presenting LARPing as an actual fantasy world.