Movie Review: Gamer becomes “The Chosen One” in sword and sorcery C-movie, “Alpha Rift”

Lance Henriksen, Baron of B-movies and Tsar of the Cs, lends a little in-on-the-joke twinkle to “Alpha Rift,” a silly and unexceptional sword-and-sorcery tale that doesn’t skimp on the cheese.

Henricksen presides over this “heir to the bloodline” warrior against evil tale anchored in Nerdland, amongst the role-players, cosplayers and D&D folk who love their “lore,” “legends” and “origin stories.”

It’s got a flippant attitude, recycled one-liners and more hams than Smithfield. But if you’re on its wavelength…

Veteran bit player Aaron Dalla Villa has the lead role, playing Nolan, a gaming store proprietor “chosen” for one of the Helmets of the Noblemen, his “destiny” in a real-world showdown against evil that inspired this game he and his co-workers (Rachel Nielsen and Christopher Ullrich) are really into in his store.

Some robbers bust open a vault, looking for sellable rare coins. One of them drops this green crystal orb, green lights flash and the career-criminal known as Blades (Phillip N. Williams) now has green eyes and a new mission.

“I have been waiting in eternity for this moment!”

His rampage is why Nolan gets this helmet delivered to his store. That’s why his not-really-his-landlord (Allyson Malandra) shows up with a SWAT team with strange emblems to protect him until he listens to everyone who shouts “Put on the HELMET” at him.

Next thing he knows, this old man growling on about “your destiny” (Henriksen) and a fellow named “Gerard the Butler” and others are training him for the fights to come. He will be initiated into a real life “Knights of the Noblemen.” His fave game? Not just “a fairytale” or “legend.”

“Knights of the Noblemen,” BTW? Stupid, redundant name, even for a fantasy game in a C-movie about said fantasy game.

The dialogue is a whole lot of “Ninjas, are you friggin’ KIDDING me?” and “I’ll see you in Hell!” “Already been there!”

Henriksen lends a raised-eyebrow gravitas, inspiring “Is this the part where you tell me my flesh tastes better with chianti and fava beans?”

The dialogue is “no time for another take” agrammatical at times, rehashed and recycled and cut-and-pasted-from-other-movies in others. Bad puns follow the bad guy, who doesn’t like being compared to somebody from a trilogy he never read.

“Who is this ‘Sorry Man’ (Saruman) of which you speak?”

Williams and Henriksen are the best things in it. The acting is nothing to put on anybody’s demo reel, although the modest effects are OK, somewhat more convincing than the fight choreography.

“Alpha Rift” is nonsense, and everybody involves knows it, which is a plus. I just wish it had been funnier and tighter. The intended laughs just aren’t there, not enough of them anyway.

Rating: PG-13 for violence, language and suggestive references

Cast: Lance Henriksen, Aaron Dalla Villa, Rachel Nielsen, Philip N. Williams, Christopher Ullrich and Peter Patrikios

Credits:Scripted and directed by Dan Lantz. A Vertical release.

Running time: 1:34

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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