I'm sitting here typing this from an office in Los Angeles, California. It's pretty rad. Last night I attended a movie premiere in a quaint little place called the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
Disclaimer: the photo was shot on a phone and this computer doesn't have photoshop. I cannee work miracles cap'n. She willn't get any expose-ier.
Pictured: (left) an awesome dude whose hand I shook, and (right) another awesome dude whose hand was preoccupied at the time. Don't make your own jokes, you know what I meant.
With me were Ray Friesen, (author/illustrator: Ninja Chicken vs Pirate Penguin, and Fairy Tales I Just Made Up) and Ben Paddon, whose show Ports Center you should check out if you are the kind of person who already knows who the AVGN is, and are finding this intro tedious and just want me to get on with the review already.
Pictured: (left) Ray, (right) Ben. Both of whom's hands are constantly occupied. Make as many of your own jokes as you want.
On that note, I promise the review is coming,, but first, a word about the AVGN for the uninitiated.
In 2004, James Rolfe made an overly pedantic video about an old video game because he was bored. Two yers later he began uploading videos to a new website called "U Tube" (did I spell that right?). It became popular, prompting him to make more, and the whole thing snowballed. The gist is that a bitter nerd is angry about the games he hated from his childhood, and so he loudly and crassly complains about them despite the fact that we all have Xbox 360s and iPhones now.
Believe it or not Rolfe is a big inspiration for me because he made a career out of goofing off with his friends and being creative, all while being his own boss. So the fact that his weird little side project has now seen a Hollywood premiere makes me immensely happy for him.
Which brings me to the movie:
Basically my fears for this one was that it was going to too closely resemble the-direct-to-internet Channel Awesome movies, which are entertaining enough for the right people but try to cram in so many cameos they run out of time for plot. AVGN: The Movie certainly is a busy film but I was pleasantly surprised by how the cameos were executed.
The movie does however suffer from Spider-Man 3 syndrome. Without giving too much away there are three sets of villains, and each of them lose relevance as the plot goes on. By Rolfe's own admission, the narrative is pretty insane, and I feel like this was done to up the stakes of some of the situations the nerd has gotten himself into in the web series. That's fine: even though the movie switches from being grounded in reality to being fantastical quite quickly, it didn't bother me too much. As a fan it was nice to see the nerd leave his room and show the audience the world he lives in during the first act, but once the equilibrium of the beginning was established there was no reason to necessarily stick with that motif.
The problem comes from the fact that the real stakes of the plot are revealed towards the end, which doesn't give them much time to sink in. When the nerd has a new dilemma being thrown at him by the minute it's tough for any of them to really sink in.
The advantage of this though is the diversity of the sets and locations which the movie features. When Rolfe announced the movie would have a deliberate campy B-movie look, my worry was that there would be nothing nice to see. But the scope of it, while maintaining a low budget feel, was large and cinematic. Plus, while the stakes are constantly shifting, they do feel worthy of a feature adaption.
The nerd's motivations for getting involved in the plot felt organic, which was well pulled off because the risk of his actions seeming forced by the necessity of the story was likely a risk James Rolfe & Kevin Finn encountered while writing it. His co-stars also played their parts well, with instantly likable performances from sidekick/manager Cooper (Jeremy Suarez) and girl/gamer Mandi (Sarah Glendening). The villains individually aren't un-engaging, it's just that they get all up in each others' screentime.
For non-fans, I think it would have been more accessible if it had been more focused and down-to-earth. If you are a fan though, I'd say you'll probably be a fan of the movie too. It has its flaws but they won't bother you if you're a member of the figurative club. Angry Video Game Nerd the movie has screenings throughout the US, and they're adding new screenings all the time. It's expected that it'll eventually be on DVD. See cinemassacre.com for details.
Four Fuchs out of five.
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