Angry Video Game Nerd The Movie hits blu-ray shelves tomorrow. Here's Blake's review!!!
|"Oh. My. God. It smells so bad."|
Eight years ago, a fellow nerd put on his white button-up shirt and khakis for the first time, complete with pocket protector, and sat his ass down in front of his VHS camera to speak about one of the worst Nintendo games of all time: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If you haven’t played the game, consider yourself lucky—it’s one of the single most maddening and incomprehensible events of my generation’s childhood pastime. You play as Jekyll, walking around while being attacked by the townsfolk for no discernible reason. Your only weapon is a cane which does absolutely nothing; braille copies of Playboy have been put to better use. When you take enough damage, which will be in about 15 seconds flat, you turn into Mr. Hyde. This is when it actually starts to feel like a game, since you can fire projectiles, but no sooner are you getting into the groove when suddenly lightning will strike your Hyde sprite, the screen will turn black, and those two words appear that inspired most of us to drop our first F-Bomb as children: Game Over.
If you were looking for the cure for the will to live, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was pretty much it, and it was an almost spiritual experience to see this young dude staring out at you from behind his glasses and across the internet, to bond with us over our childhood trauma, his mouth agape, his frustration absolutely real, screaming, “This game is f**kin’ horrible!!” Yes, yes it is, and it would be just one of many horrible games covered by James Rolfe in his now iconic internet series. Playing everything from Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest to the litany—or should I say, “shitany”—of titles released by the abhorrable LJN, all while sporting his trademark comic frown, he’s the angriest gamer you ever heard. He’s the Angry Video Game Nerd. And now his feature film debut, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, is available on Blu-ray exclusively through Amazon.
The plot of the film involves the landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico that was the site of a mass grave for over 2 million copies of “the worst game of all time”: E.T. (or Eee Tee so they don’t get sued) on the Atari 2600. The opening sequence of AVGN: The Movie tells this whole story in exhilarating detail, a story that, until recently, was thought to be a myth. Not long after Rolfe had completed making his film, the landfill was excavated to discover it was all true, and the cartridges were unearthed. I’m not sure if that qualifies as life imitating art, but it’s one hell of a coincidence that’s fun to keep in the back of your mind while you’re watching this film.
|"Nope. No crack rock in here."|
A video game developer known as Cockburn Inc. decides to capitalize on the recent resurgence in popularity for old bad video games by making a sequel to Eee Tee that’s even worse than the original, and getting the Nerd to “endorse it” with his shit-stamp of disapproval. Cockburn sends a pseudo-nerd gamer girl Mandi (Sarah Glendening) to get the Nerd on board, but the idea of playing the game at all is enough for him to upchuck what looks like Ecto Cooler all over the demo. His ensuing nightmares—amusingly depicted in all their CGI-rendered Atari glory—convince the Nerd that his mission must be to save the fans by digging up the landfill and proving the “dozens of eyewitness accounts” were all a hoax. Only then will the fans let go of the legend, and as a result, the new sequel can die with it. But what if the legend is true? Then the Nerd will have no choice but to review the game, in fact he’ll “play every single one of them.”
It’s not long after arriving in Alamogordo that a scenery-chewing military general with a tank for legs (Stephen Mendel) shows up with some equally over-the-top military henchmen, thinking that the Nerd, the nerdette, and his cameraman Cooper (Jeremy Suarez) are there looking for government secrets. This is when the film really takes off and continues to divert course in about twenty different directions, hitting all the key notes of B-movie cult status with all the self awareness you’d expect from a film whose main character once took a dump on Bugs Bunny’s face. We get aliens, we get miniature nuclear missile silos, we get a giant man in a plastic suit breaking the Eiffel Tower over his knee. Yeah, it looks fake as hell, but to tell you the truth, I loved it. This feels more like Godzilla than the new Godzilla. In this age of oversaturated CGI everything, I was downright grateful for the chance to laugh at a man in a suit made from old furnace parts and popsicle sticks. Oh, and do we get a group of Asians running away from a green screen with fearful expressions? You bet your sweet ass we do. It’s glorious.
Let me just say that this is not a movie for everybody. This is a film that was not just made for the fans of AVGN, but was completely financed by them as well, with a successful Kickstarter campaign that yielded a budget of just over $300,000. It’s littered with in-jokes for fans of the series, including some of Rolfe’s signature lines, re-packaged and re-delivered for our pleasure; it even includes special appearances from AVGN regulars like Kyle Justin and Mike Matei, as well as many who sent in video responses to an online request for fan footage to incorporate into the film. Rolfe knows his audience, knows what they love about his show, and knows how to put together one hell of a Blu-ray.
|"Damn, this looks a lot better than that Godzilla movie."|
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie may have standard packaging, but it’s what is inside that counts. Over 10 hours of bonus features are on this bad boy, including commentaries, a beautifully rendered 5.1 surround sound track, a live audience reaction track, numerous production vlogs, outtakes, bloopers, featurettes on everything from here to the moon, and even a special Nostalgia Critic review of the movie. Anyone who is a fan of the Nerd knows about the “feud” between Doug Walker and James Rolfe that was a few years back, resulting in one of the funniest fight scenes ever committed to video. To have him as an extra on the blu-ray is not only fun for fans of both personalities, but another in-joke all on its own for Rolfe to let the fans know he was thinking about us.
While the final result may not be perfect, it is precisely the B-movie love letter for the bygone age of practical effects I was hoping for, and more—much, much more. Anything goes in this movie. Rolfe and his co-writer/director Kevin Finn have thrown everything into their feature debut, to include the kitchen sink as well as the dishwasher and several other major appliances, utilizing the leftovers to create their cardboard box robots, sugar glass casinos, and alien sock puppets. “Even my dreams are low budget,” says the Nerd, after waking from a nightmare in which he’s attacked by a hilariously bad monster hand puppet. Well that may be so, but with more visual effects shots than the original Iron Man, and a loving look that feels handmade from start to finish, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie just might be the most ambitious low budget independent film ever made.
-Blake O. Kleiner