Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (2014) - CONTAINS SPOILERS

So, nearly 5 years (well, 8 years if you count the fact that he came up with the idea some time in 2006) after it was announced, its finally here....and, unlike Ashens film "Quest for the GameChild", you have to pay to watch therefore it must be good eh?, eh?, eh?....

Costing $325,000 (approx £201,576), which was entirely accumulated via crowd sourcing means, including Kickstarter etc, the film represents James Rolfe's ambition to make a full length movie about the subjects he cares most about, namely films and video games.

The plot is very simple, the Nerd (James Rolfe ) is beginning to get sick of people asking him to review the Atari 2600 game E.T , widely condemned as the worst video game of all time (although throughout the film the game is referred to as "EEE TEE", in order to avoid having to pay Steven Speilberg a lot of money) , however one day, a video games company, "Cockburn Industries" decides to make a sequel to the game, imaginatively titling it "EEE TEE 2". However, in a twist to normal video game marketing practice, they decide from the get go to make the game even worse than the original, as their marketing manager, Mandi (Sarah Glendening ) has noticed that the influence of the Angry Video Game Nerds video review series on "YouPooed" has led to gamers actively seeking out and playing games that are crap in order to rage at them.

The Nerd and his never seen before friend Cooper (Jeremy Suarez ) accept a deal from Cockburn Industries to travel to New Mexico to dig up the supposed site of where Atari buried 2 million unsold copies of the original game in order to firstly prove that it never happened, and then for the Nerd to review EEE TEE 2 and say its crap, which will therefore guarantee millions of sales worldwide. Cockburn Industries sends along Mandi, who is posing as a gamer girl/nerd to act as producer for the documentary and to ensure nothing goes awry, however, things are not all as they seem, cue lots of bizarre occurrences and wacky subplots.

So, was this film worth waiting nearly 5 years for? a word...


Its good that Rolfe got to realise his dream of making a full length movie, him being interested in film making since an early age and all that, however the film has numerous problems that someone who claims to love film as much as Rolfe really should have spotted and nipped in the bud during planning and production...

1. The film is advertised as a "Comedy/Farcical" film.
O.K, I can go with that, the AVGN review videos are the same, however, this film falls into the trap of many an attempt at takes itself too seriously.... No this isn't me being a cunt and not "getting it", there is a difference between playing a role "tongue in cheek" and playing the role as a "straight man". Rolfe spectacularly fails on both counts, as during many scenes where obviously ridiculous stuff is happening, Rolfe over plays his character to the point at which the Nerd becomes an overly cynical and unlikeable character. In this respect, he is out acted in his own film by literally everybody else in the damn thing. You cant even argue that the excessive cynicism and strait-lacedness is in keeping with the character, because it isn't, and trying to cover up the flaws with lots of swearing doesn't work in a feature length movie the same way it does in a 15 minute Youtube video, because it gets tired and stale after the first few attempts.

2. The film cant seem to decide whether its going for the "B-Movie" look, or the "Hollywood blockbuster" look.
The film is brilliantly shot, with extremely high quality camera work, lighting and locations, well worthy of anything that a major studio would put out. The films special effects go for the "cheapo" look, with dead obvious scale miniatures and cheap looking effects used for comic effect, as well as heavy use of green screen to show locations where the producers couldn't afford or just didnt want to go to. This is good, however, the two styles of film making clash horribly with each other, and don't mesh very well. Granted, this film is a low budget production, and they had to work within their means, but by going all out for slick filming and then having crap and cheap looking special effects filmed in the same way doesn't add to the films charm, it makes it look decidedly amateurish. Again, this isn't a case of me "not getting it" this is a case of me being able to spot the difference between a well shot movie and a movie that has been cobbled together with poor planning. Again, this bizarre meshing of filming styles makes the film farcical for all the wrong reasons, to the point at which some scenes are just painful to watch.

3. The whole point of the film is its downfall.
Right from the very beginning when it was announced that this film would be made, it was hinted that the plot of the film would centre around the Nerd finally reviewing the game he had been most requested to review, but as yet, had not, supposedly because he didn't want to review it.
After sitting through the length of the film, the Nerd finally gets round to reviewing the original "EEE TEE" as the films credits roll, however, the "review" is nothing like the Nerds traditional review style, instead, he adopts a more mainstream "good points/bad points" style of review, and then launches into a faux inspirational monologue about how whether a game shouldn't be judged on whether it is good or bad, but on how it makes the user feel while playing it. I can agree with him to a point, however, I find it disappointing and somewhat laughable that Rolfe would decide to go against everything he has built up with the AVGN character and produce a mediocre review in someone elses style without adding any of the touches he has spent over 10 years incorporating into an established persona. Much less, you have to sit through nearly one hour and fifty seven minutes of fairly unentertaining storyline to get there.
As much as people hate him, I have to say that the "IrateGamers" Review of the game is much funnier, and to the point, and was produced on a significantly less high a budget than AVGN: The movie, simply because it doesn't take itself as uber seriously. I know it is a bit of an unfair comparison, but when it takes AVGN nearly 2 hours and $325,000 to do something someone who is blatantly copying off him managed to do in 10 minutes, you're doing it wrong.

4. Tampering with an established successful formula is usually a bad idea.
AVGN became famous because of his short skits in which he gives a foul mouthed review of crappy games before launching into over the top scenes of violence or ranting...this film contains very little of this, and, introduces new characters for no apparent reason. The character of "Cooper" exists seemingly to firstly provide a token black protagonist character to the piece, but also ask questions in order to fill in or move the plot on. For no apparent reason, the other two people most associated with being secondary characters in the AVGN shorts, namely musician Kyle Justin and illustrator Mike Matei, receive less than 10 seconds of screen time in a cameo role in the mid to late film.
Of course, the "road trip" is used as a plot device in order to place the Nerd and his two new friends into an unfamiliar locale in order to take the Nerd out of his basement, because a 2 hour long film in which the Nerd sits in front of a camera and talks about crap games would get boring, however, the convoluted and cliched plot used to get them from A to Z really doesn't make this film a spectacular must see.

So, to sum up, this film is a very disappointing watch, but its good that James Rolfe finally managed to make his dream of making a feature length movie a reality, and every penny of the money that was donated towards making it has been well spent, but, that doesn't mean that the end product is a good one. In many ways the film ends up being a parody of its premise by hyping itself up but then delivering an average result.
I cant say this is a film that I would watch again and again for laughs, and it is certainly not worth the value of renting it for viewing via Vimeo, If anything, it, like "Quest for the GameChild", is more of a curiosity than a serious attempt at breaking into the film industry.

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