Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (James Rolfe, 2014)

I remember a couple of years ago when I saw the queues of young girls stood outside the theatre awaiting the release of the latest One Direction Movie, 1D: This Is Us. I’m pretty sure I passed a snide comment to whoever I was with at the time berating the popularity of the film, which was clearly not aimed at me. I wasn’t the “target audience”. Nonetheless, what a bunch of idiots standing there to watch such a rubbish film.

One for the fans

One for the fans

It took me until last night to realise how wrong I was to do this. My wife was out of the house and so I saw it as a perfect opportunity to finally watch the imported copy of Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie [1]. Alas, my wife returned home and walked in just as The Nerd threw up over a copy of Eee Tee 2 and the woman holding it. As I looked towards the door, I saw myself reflected back: bemusement, disdain and a lack of willingness to understand. I guess that means that I’m a teenage girl and James Rolfe is Harry Stiles. Maybe.

And that’s the point. This is by no means a film for everyone. It is specifically a film for the fans of James Rolfe’s character The Angry Video Game Nerd, the central character in his webisodic (it’s now a word) series in which he reviews terrible old games in a foul-mouthed and occasionally aggressive manner. It’s a film full of references to the series, made for the fans, and a pet project for Rolfe to flex his big-budget muscles and show exactly what he can do once he leaves his underground lair.

The storyline concerns the release of Eee Tee 2, the sequel to Eee Tee, the biggest flop in video game history (and barely hiding the reference to E.T.). The Nerd has always refused to review this game, but when an opportunity arises to go to New Mexico and dig up the infamous New Mexico Atari landfill as a tie in to the sequel, he agrees. The Nerd and his two assistants start the quest but are pursued by federal agent General Dark Onward, who believes The Nerd is trying to investigate Area 51.

It is quite a convoluted plot but it’s not really there to win any awards for screenplays. It’s a platform on which Rolfe bases some quite hilarious moments and I see the film as a success. Yes, it’s probably a little long but I can forgive Rolfe for this – he was bringing his own dream to life and wanted to make sure his fans got the most out of it. Some of the script feels a little like it’s deliberately trying to aspire to be a cult film, and it gets very silly at times, but it’s delivered with enough charm to be forgiven for a few misfires.

There’s a nice bonus at the end, where he finally reviews E.T. The Extra Terrestrial on the Atari, which he has never previously done. The bonus features on the disc are plentiful and give a bit of insight into the film (though many of the featurettes were previously available during the making of the film on Cinemassacre).

Steer clear if you have never heard of The Nerd before but if you want to see what he’s capable of it’s worth the plunge.

[1] For those in the UK, the best option to see the movie in HD is to import from Amazon.com. Be warned though – you will pay through the nose for the postage and then get slapped with import duty when it arrives. It’s expensive and if you aren’t fussed about the HD then you have an option to stream from Cinemassacre for a small fee.

Upcoming Crowdfunded Films Preview Part Two: AVGN The Movie

I’ve been following the foul-mouthed ranting reviews of terrible old video games by the Angry Video Game Nerd (portrayed by James Rolfe) for many years. They’re one of my go-to videos on the net when I have 10 minutes to kill and want a sure-fire way to give myself a shot of humour. For someone who grew up with these infuriating games, seeing him struggle to play through Silver Surfer or Wayne’s World is a hilarious blast from the past and if you’ve not seen them I heartily recommend you check them out.

One thing you will pick up on if you watch his videos is just how much he knows about his subject matter, and it doesn’t stop at video games. I remember being blown away by his cross-referencing of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series with the classic horror films they were paying homage to. There is no way he could have looked any of these up; he just knows his stuff.

So when he announced he was doing a movie based on The Nerd, I was immediately excited. The subject matter – his quest to unearth the legendary hidden ET Atari cartridges in a landfill in New Mexico – is ideal. At the time the film started production, these cartridges were one of the biggest myths of the video game industry and the story had taken on a life of its own. Some believed it was a complete fabrication, whilst others were convinced they were buried somewhere. Nobody knew how many would be found if they were ever located, and many doubted the increasingly renowned story.

avgnscreenshot

What has been frustrating is the recent unearthing of the Atari cartridges, itself documented a the Zack Penn film to be released later this year. I personally thought it was a shame the myth was proven to be correct (to some extent), as it meant the speculation was over. It was terrible timing when the AVGN film was so closed to completion, but it hasn’t deterred Rolfe from powering through and completing his first big-budget feature film. Indeed, he posted a blog post on the week the cartridges were unearthed discussing how he felt about the excavation and he raises some interesting points.

It has been released in the USA already and has been receiving solid reviews. It looks like it’s aimed directly at his already vast fanbase. For newcomers it might be a little alienating, but staying true to his character is the most important thing here. The effects were something he has poured over and the team have done an excellent job with a comparatively low budget. So much love and care has gone into the film already and I can’t wait for the UK Blu-Ray release early next year [1].

The AVGN Movie is out now to stream from Vimeo via Cinemassacre, the home of AVGN.

[1] I’m a complete snob when it comes to picture quality and resolution. I know how much effort has gone into this film and I’m not about to short-change myself and the filmmakers by streaming over the internet. My connection is so bad (thanks BT!) that I know it would wipe out a whole evening waiting for it to load. I’d rather just wait. In the meantime, I’ve noticed he’s uploaded a new AVGN review (an increasingly rare event). In fact, this one (Tagin’ Dragon) is part of a series of reviews called “The Twelve Days of Shitsmas”, which promises twelve AVGN reviews over the next twelve days. Clocking in at over one hour of running time, Christmas really has come early!