Once upon a time, the words "Nation Lampoon" used to carry some sort of value; now it's just a stamp slapped on any stupid direct-to-home video movie devoid of comedic content. I dare say nothing dubbed "National Lampoon's" has been worth watching since the first three 'Vacation' movies. I'd even go so far as to say that 'National Lampoon's' is something now worth avoiding at all cost, a scarlet letter warning that the (supposed) comedy you're about to watch has been whored out to the lowest-common-denominator of comedic writing.
Because they're too bad to be screened for press, I've only seen one of the many movies that touts itself as being written "by the guys who brought you 'Scary Movie,'" but I don't see how 'The Legend of Awesomest Maximus' can be any different from their 'Epic Movie.' 'Awesomest Maximus' is nothing more than a mash-up of every epic movie you've ever seen - 'Troy,' '300,' 'Braveheart,' 'Gladiator,' 'Kingdom of Heaven' and 'Clash of the Titans' - but instead of intelligently mixing them together, this awful movie flows from one to the other, dragging on through each unfunny sequence just to make sure that you say to yourself, "Oh. This part is supposed to be just like (insert any epic movie's title here)."
Imagine everything that sucked the life right out of 'Your Highness' applied to historical war movies (instead of the fantasy genre) and performed by a cast that's utterly incapable of drawing a single laugh. That's what you're getting yourself into with 'Awesomest Maximus.' At least 'Your Highness' featured cast members and content that made you chuckle a few times. 'Awesomest Maximus' doesn't even have that going for itself. Just like 'Your Highness,' consistently vulgar language is the basis for all the "comedy." Modern swearing in a period piece is funny, but not when that's from where all of the laughs are supposed to come. The vulgarities are overkill within the first five minutes.
The entire film reeks of filler, as if the filmmakers are doing everything possible to stretch this 15-minute bad sketch comedy segment into a feature length movie. The overly indulgent opening credits marks the beginning of this disease, showing slow motion CG spears and wartime weapons fly across the screen with a black fog-filled backdrop – not unlike the opening credits of 'Final Destination 5.' The saddest part of these credits is that the CG used is one hundred times better than the atrocious effects used throughout the film.
The production value of 'Awesomest Maximus' is so low that you can't even laugh at it. The movie feels like it was shot in my backyard for ten whole dollars. There's one desert location, three sets that appear to have been made by a community theater troupe, and a slew of slew of green screen shots with some of the very worst artificial backdrops I've ever seen.
Matching the horrendous production value is the effortless screenplay. Awesomest Maximus (Will Sasso) married into Trojan royalty. His wife Hotessa (Kristanna Loken) is the daughter of the king (Rip Torn). Hotessa wants to be queen so that her gay brother Orlando (Gary Lundy) won't take the throne. The closet homosexual Orlando doesn't want his dad to know he's gay, so he convinces the Greek king's wife (Sophie Monk) to come back to Troy with him and pose as his wife. King Erotic (Khary Payton) is furious, so he gathers his "million man army" and his best warrior, Testiclees (Ian Ziering), to sail across the sea and storm Troy. Hotessa and her father look to Awesomest Maximus to resolve the impending doom, so he consults the Elders and stripper oracles for council. The Gods command Awesomest Maximus to compile 300 of his best soldiers to face the million man army. After falling off a cliff during the first battle, Awesomest Maximus washes ashore and is mistaken for a slave and sold off to fight in gladiator battles, during which he kills Testiclees' cousin. Pissed-off Testiclees becomes hellbent on destroying Troy, so he and a few soldiers hide out in a giant wooden Trojan Penis and gain access to the city that way. Of course, Awesomest Maximus shows up just in time. Roll credits. Yes, that's all that happens in this 91-minute movie. Talk about stretched thin.
Only making matters worse is the fact that all of the jokes fall flat. When not banking on vulgarity for laughs, it's throwing out extremely offensive gay jokes. When those don't work, it stoops to racial and handicapped humor, making fun of Jews, blacks, little people, and kids with Down Syndrome. Classy stuff.
There isn't a single redeeming characteristic to 'The Legend of Awesomest Maximus.' Through and through, it's a terrible movie that Comedy Central wouldn't even consider playing at three in the morning. Do not under any circumstance mistake it for anything that might be deemed entertaining.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment has placed 'National Lampoon's The Legend of Awesomest Maximus' on a Region A BD-25 that's housed in a blue vortex keepcase. The cover art is exactly what you'd expect from a spoof movie – it's cluttered with silly unfunny images of people making goofy faces and doing stupid gestures. 'Awesomest Maximus' isn't rated, but it would surely be rated R for language, sexual content, nudity and violence. Prior to getting to the main menu, there's the forced FBI warning, an Image vanity reel and a trailer for a movie that looks even worse than 'Awesomest Maximus' – 'Division III: Football's Finest.'
Considering the on-screen content, I expected the video quality of the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode to be downright awful, but it's actually not half bad.
The sharpness of the image is consistently strong. Fine details like facial pores and object textures can always be seen. The overly indulgent opening credits sequence looks fantastic. Even the CG in this scene is a lifelike treat, but not a single other CG effect in the whole movie looks like good. The negative thing to come from the movie's sharpness is the fact that it makes all of the bad CG landscapes and effects look even worse by comparison. If anything, the great depth and details hurts this transfer by allowing the low production value to shine through.
Aside from several instances of banding and noise, my biggest complain with the film is its overuse of the generic sepia filter. It completely messes with the color scheme and becomes such a monotonous killer that they might as well have shot the movie in black & white. Black levels are deep, but a few times result in crushing. DNR, edge enhancement, noise, aliasing and artifacts are not an issue.
Only one lossy audio selection is available for 'Awesomest Maximus' – English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Just like the CG video effects from the opening sequence, the audio starts off in the most fantastic manner, but it doesn't stick around for long.
As the opening credits roll, the grand scoring triumphantly emits from all speakers. Combined with imaging effects and sounds originating from the rear and surround channels, the dynamic mix gives you high hopes for what's to come – but it all goes drastically downhill after the intro.
The voice-over narration by Ludacris is loud, crisp, clean and full of resonant bass, but when we hear the dialog spoken by the movie's characters, it's much softer. The narrator interjects quite often, so the contrast between the two volumes is an easily noticeable distraction.
Aside from a handful of instances where music and effects can be heard in the surround and rear channels, the mix is front heavy. Just about everything seems to originate from the front and center speakers, causing this lossy track to feel almost as flat as the jokes.
I dare say that there is nothing worse than bad spoof comedy. Every single amateur open mic night I've ever been to is worlds funnier than anything found in 'National Lampoon's The Legend of Awesomest Maximus.' I'm frequently picked on by friends and peers for admittedly enjoying 'The Love Guru,' but even those guys would admit that 'The Love Guru' is downright hilarious compared to 'Awesomest Maximus.' This snoozer couldn't even manage to get me to crack a smile once, let alone laugh. It resembles 'Your Highness' made with a $10 budget. The strong video quality only makes the low production value noticeably worse. The lackluster audio is right on par with other direct-to-home video movies. The void of special features made for a painful but quick reviewing experience – which can actually be considered the part of the Blu-ray. No matter how much you like bad comedies, avoid this offensively stupid and unfunny spoof at all costs.