“Nerd” is fun but short of blockbuster
For those who have been living under a rock, filmmaker James Rolfe created a webseries persona called the “Angry Video Game Nerd” that has been viral since 2006. For past eight years, he has chugged every bottle of Rolling Rock in existence to null the pain of the many bad video games and (sometimes) video gaming consoles. This webeseries has a massive fanbase ranging from those who enjoy his bashing and rants on “what where they thinking” as well as his dictionary of obscenities that feel more like adjectives to the dreaded 8-bit nightmares and less like tossed swears. I admit I enjoy his episodes and the satire of the current generation with their thoughts on nostalgia from the 1980’s and 90’s. But little did we know that somewhere down the road would there be a big screen adaption to complement just how far James has come as a reviewer, actor and director.
“Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie” made its theatrical run last month and is currently available as a digital download. The hype for this one has been huge as the teased hat trick surrounds the promise of a review on the notorious Atrai game E.T. and the whole story centered around the mythos that tons of game cartridges are buried somewhere in the Nevada desert. Recently, that myth was proven true. But this movie gives it own fictional account with a few humorous twists. But with all that hard effort making the script, getting massive fan support from Kickstarter and seeing it finally completed, was that wait worth it? The answer is yes. Now when I first heard about this movie, I didn’t know what to expect. My initial thought was to be a “Rocky” style picture with a video game tournament almost like a parody of “The Wizard.” I was far off but what we got in the end was enjoyable and fits the series.
The Nerd is recognized by his fans for his video game bashing but he fears his criticisms are being used as advertising than a warning. Its not until fan pressure puts him on the edge of doing a review of E. T. (spelled Eee Tee in the film to possible avoid copyrights from Amblin). His cameraman/fan/companion Cooper (Jeremy Suarez of Brother Bear fame…yes, Koda is in the Nerd movie) also joins in on the peer pressure to the point the Nerd wants to see the truth of Atari Landfill debunked. If that wasn’t enough, a video game corporation is crafting a sequel to the infamous video game and one of its scheming executives (Sarah Glendening of soap opera fame) plans to use the Nerd to sell it seeing his rants create revenue.
Somewhere tossed into the mix is a subplot about an Area 52 base that might have some connection with the horrible video game. Led by the deranged General Dark Onward, he plans to see the truth be buried while his leg-less body is stuck in a mobile wheelchair that would make the handicap envious as it is built like a tank (literally). Needless to say, watching a crazy war general has never been this fun since George C. Scott and his crack ups in Dr. Strangelove.
As Nerd and company battle off the Army and even other-worldly beings at one point, we get treated to one action scene after another as the viewers keep wondering just how will that video game review make an impact. To fans and viewers eagerly waiting to hear the Nerd’s thoughts, you might be disappointed. After countless chase scenes and moments that pay homage or parody classic movies ranging from Dirty Harry to even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, the last third of the Nerd movie starts to drag. All that build up and potential comes to halt with more chaotic scenes and cameos that are nice but I kept wondering how this will all add up in the conclusion. Even moments in the early start like a road trip montage and a never-ending nightmare scene could have been easily cut down or possible removed to strengthen the pace. There’s even a scene where the Nerd team has to pass through a live-action video game stage in a scientists’ house but its quick and could have been easily cut or expanded to be a highlighted moment. I understand this is padding it out to an explosive finale but with so many good concepts and ideas seeing the first two-thirds, it gets a little fatigued near the end as a giant robot god terrorizes Las Vegas while destroying some casinos in the process.
A lot of this stuff is good but after some great scenes in the first portion, I feel those elements weaken the conclusion. But even then some things do feel rushed like a last minute moral about how “life is a video game” and concepts that were introduced as a minor plot element get treated like a crucial part at the end. And yet, it doesn’t feel that crucial. Perhaps if more time was spent developing these other-worldly things (which I desperately wish to spoil but can’t) there would be a feeling of impact or resolution to it. Even some of the things in the first half like the evil corporation’s desire to sell Eee Tee 2 to the public doesn’t feel full resolved. Video gamers are taught a lesson, they make a certain decision with the new sequel and that’s it. No reaction from the boss as all the video games are dealt with and not the company. Such a wasted opportunity.
However, for all that its worth, is “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie” worth seeing? Of course! Despite its problems, I do feel Jame’s film holds up in the first two-thirds. I will admit its a great change to see practical effects being done considering how much CGI work has dominated Hollywood’s films. For an independent feature that parodies and celebrates everything nostalgic, its decent and harmless but I don’t think this is a movie for everyone. There are some references and jokes that might go over a mainstream viewer’s head and I do feel the conclusion is so rushed to the point it will leave viewers wondering if all is well in the universe of the Nerd or is this all build for a second entry. As it stands, this is enjoyable with a lot of care obviously placed into making feel like a watered down version of a Troma movie but in a good way. If your the kind of viewer that likes “so bad, its good” with extra cheese, this one is for you. And I have a thought to address to James Rolfe. If he does plan to make a sequel, have it be called AVGN 2: Montezuma’s Revenge. And for those who get the in-joke behind it, then I’m sure you won’t have a hard time enjoying this flick.
Posted on September 9, 2014, in In Theaters (Sort of), Rental Corner and tagged adaptaion, Angry Video Game Nerd, Atari, Atari Landfill, E.T., Independant Film, James Rolfe, Nintendo, The Movie, Worst Video Game. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.