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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Sean Kelly

Indie Spotlight: Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie

AngryVideoGameNerd

Indie Spotlight is a series focusing on reviews of independent films

The popular retro gaming web series gets turned into a feature length adventure in Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie.  The Nerd (James Rolfe) is a gamer and internet celebrity, who works in a videogame shop with his friend and protégé Cooper (Jeremy Suarez), aka the Super Rad Video Game Dude.  The Nerd is constantly asked by fans to review Eee Tee for the Atari 2600, considered to be the worst game of all time, with two million copies rumoured to be buried in the desert.  Videogame executive Mandi (Sarah Glendening) recruits the nerd to review the intentionally worse sequel Eee Tee 2, in the hopes that the Nerd’s popularity would boost its sales.  The three go on a road trip to disprove the urban legend of the original game’s burial and they find out that this rumour is just the tip of huge conspiracy.

Started in 2004 by James Rolfe, Angry Video Game Nerd is a web series, which stars Rolfe as a foul-mouthed nerd, who plays so-called bad video games (usually for retro systems) and complains about their frustrating play mechanics and/or extreme difficulty.  The episodes of the series, which are typically ten to twenty minutes long, consist of game footage and commentary, usually accompanied by a related narrative.  In a nutshell, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is a feature length episode of the series, with the plot of the film being structured around the failure of the Atari 2600 adaptation of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (respelled as Eee Tee for the film).

While the episodes of the web series typically feature Rolfe solo, with the occasional guest star, the film adds a supporting cast of characters, who join The Nerd on his adventure. This includes Cooper, who is learning to be a nerd himself, which includes the anti-female mantra of “nerds before birds,” which becomes somewhat complicated when Mandi joins the two on the road trip.  The film features an antagonist in the form of General Dark Onward (Stephen Mendel) and his subordinate Sergeant McButter (Helena Barrett), who are trying to keep the truth about the Eee Tee games from being revealed.  There are also a few surprises in the cast, including a cameo by a certain cult filmmaker.

While best known for Angry Video Game Nerd, James Rolfe has a background as an independent filmmaker, posting a number of short films on his website Cinemassacre.  Co-directed by Kevin Finn, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is Rolfe’s feature length debut.  The entire budget for the film was acquired through crowdfunding and it has obviously been made for fans of the web series.  In fact, a knowledge of the series would be an asset while watching the film, since it features many in-jokes and references to the series.

The biggest challenge for Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie was taking its concept and expanding it to feature length.  Probably the weakest element of the film is the horribly bad dialogue and very clichéd characters.  While this may be intentional to give the film a bit of a campy vibe, the dialogue did get a little too much at times.  Also, elements that work for a short form web series, don’t really come off the best in feature length form.  There are some scenes in the film, such as a zombie-filled nightmare, which came off more as filler than anything else.  One element of the film that can be excused, based on the low budget, is the noticeably bad special effects and heavy use of green screen.  I also have to say that the film does get really fun to watch during the climax, which slightly raises my overall opinion.

When it is all said and done, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie can be seen as pure fan service and will probably most appeal to those familiar with the web series.  The film as a whole doesn’t really take itself too seriously and if you can get past the campy action and the bad dialogue and special effects, the film does have some pretty fun moments.

7 | FAIR 

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is now available to rent or purchase from Vimeo On Demand.

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).