Produced by Cinemassacre productions and Skinny Ugly Pilgrim
I have been a fan of James Rolfe and his Angry video game nerd creation for many years, I’ve wiled away many an hour watching his Youtube videos. He certainly helped me get back into playing some of the old games I used to enjoy as a kid and I think it has played a big part in the boom in retro gaming that has occurred over the past few years. When I heard he was going to create a film I was actually excited to see what he could do and how he can transform a short webisode character into one that can feature in a full movie. I imagine this isn’t an easy thing to do but I have seen some of his other movies he has worked on and, for the low level finances involved in these productions, he has made some interesting short films.
The movie follows the Nerd as he tries to dispel the urban myth that Atari buried thousands of cartridges of the utterly shameful E.T. game in the Nevada desert. He has refused to review this frankly embarrassing title in his webisode series as it is just too bad, so he has to confront both his fear of this game and the urban myth that surrounds it, which is actually making people want to play it. His journey sees him chased by the authorities led by the bizarre General Dark Onward who mistakenly thinks he is try to investigate the secrets of Area 51.
The film is on a tight budget, it was effectively funded by the fans to the tune of around $325,000, which doesn’t go a long way when you are producing a feature length movie. The funding did however allow them to keep full creative rights so no compromises have been made and there was no outside interference with regards to the story or characters found wherein.
I was not expecting any spectacular computer generated effects, but I was pleasantly pleased to see a lot of physical effects used and whilst many do look homemade, which is to be entirely expected, they also help with the ‘look’ the film is after. It is after all a B movie and makes no attempt to be anything more, the digital effects are really impressive for such a small scale project and I enjoyed the look and direction of many of these scenes, some good camera work has been used to cover up the lack of real sets and varied locations so I have to say well done, this film does look a step up from many straight to the home flicks I have seen in the past.
So far it all sounds good, but sadly the downfall with Angry Videogame Nerd is its story, which is the biggest part of any film, good effects and nice locations mean nothing if there is a lack of anything that binds it all together and keeps you interested until the end, hopefully leaving you wanting more. Sadly this film is a mess when it comes to the plot, whilst basic in premise, it is far too long. Take it down to around the 90 minute mark and I feel it would have been a more enjoyable romp. As it is, it’s just boring with scenes seemingly just thrown in because they could, especially during the middle section.
I know James is a huge fan of the Godzilla films and he is clearly paying homage to them during the latter stages, but this movie didn’t need it and really seems to be an odd decision that just doesn’t fit. Sometimes less is more and when you are on a tight budget that often proves to be the best way to go, sadly it seems they dreamed a little too big and kind of forgot that this was an AVGN film. I was really disappointed that there was no real development with regards to the Nerd himself, after all it was his name in the title. The support characters are so clichéd that they have little impact and you just don’t care for them and the poor script didn’t help much either as they do very little to progress the story forward. I can’t really judge if the actors hired were of a good standard as the writing is so bad, it’s difficult to separate the two.
In the end I was really disappointed, I wasn’t expecting it to be amazing but I was hoping it would be enjoyable to watch and it just wasn’t. The story is awful, a day in the life of the Nerd would have been a far better choice. It seems that the time spent on the film was weighted more on some good looking effects and not on the actual star himself, the Nerd. This could have been so much more and really given some life to the AVGN character and that was what I was expecting, not a hodge podge of ideas that just don’t work at all with the central character on screen but not for any reason other than to make a film, any film.