Written by Dylan Brandsema
If you’ve been keeping up with popular culture on the internet for the last ten years or so, chances are you’ve heard of The Angry Video Game Nerd. In 2004, amateur filmmaker James Rolfe started his own web-series The Angry Nintendo Nerd on his website Cinemassacre.com, in which he played an exaggerated version of himself reviewing the worst of the worst of classic 80’s and 90’s NES games. To avoid trademarking issues with Nintendo, he later changed the character to the Angry Video Game Nerd, and over time he’s made a name for himself as one of the most popular entities on the internet, primarily with the gaming community due to his acute bashing of what he simply calls “shitty games”. As his cult status grew tremendously over the years, it was only a matter of time before he gave his beloved character a feature-length film, and in late 2014, an entire decade after the initial incarnation of the Nerd, that’s precisely what he did.
The central plot of the film centers around The Nerd as he sets out to discover the truth about the legend surrounding the story of the Atari Landfill, which is reported to be the burial site of over 2 million cartridges of E.T. for Atari 2600, a game infamously dubbed by gamers everywhere as “the worst game of all time,” and finally fulfill his fans’ long-heeded request to review the game. Along his quest, madness ensues as he encounters corrupt military authorities, killer robots, zombies, giant cyborgs with the power to erase the entire universe, E.T. himself, as well as enjoyable cameos from other internet personalities like The Nostalgia Critic, Pat The NES Punk, James Rolfe’s partner in crime “Motherfucker” Mike Matei, comedian Eddie Pepitone, and even legendary cult director Lloyd Kaufman (E.T. programmer Howard Scott Warshaw even makes a brief appearance as himself).
Fans going into Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie expecting nothing more than a 2-hour long AVGN episode with the traditional review format are going to be sadly disappointed. However, if you’ve been an avid visitor to his site, Cinemassacre, you’ll know that James Rolfe is an extreme movie buff and an enthusiast of the classic 70’s and 80’s action/adventure genre — it is with this film in which he applies his love for that category into his own work, and it shows through in the best way imaginable.
Luckily, while feature film adaptations of web series have a tendency and a potential to typically be ghastly, Angry Video Game: The Movie is pretty damn awesome. If you’re the kind of moviegoer who expects every movie that comes out to be expertly made, high quality cinema, then this is not, by any means, the movie for you. However, if you’ve been even a moderate follower of the series, this is guaranteed to satisfy. The performances might not be top notch, the effects are cheap, and the production value is low-brow, but none of that matters because it’s just so much fun. This is the kind of movie where viewers can chuck their brains out the window, forget any sense of logic or reasoning, and just enjoy this insane, wild ride of a movie for what it is.
Of course, though, The AVGN Movie is not perfect. It would be shortsighted to go without acknowledging the technical issues — frequently, certain audio stands out as louder or quieter than others, sometimes the lighting changes are distracting, and more often than not, editing flubs can interrupt the flow of a scene (even if there are some scenes that drag on for way too long anyway). Despite these complications, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie oozes passion. Even if it’s not technically sound, Rolfe’s affection, appreciation and dedication for the craft shines above all else, and it is in this area where the film truly succeeds. What the Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is, is a testament — a testament to the art of modern-day independent filmmaking. Made on a slim budget of $325,327 via crowdsourcing and internet fundraising, Rolfe proves himself a lucrative and prosperous filmmaker with this ambitious, lively directorial feature debut.
In conclusion, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is everything you would expect and everything you could ask for. Regardless of it’s evident pitfalls, It’s wildly funny, absurdly fun, and above all, wonderfully entertaining. If you’re a fan of Rolfe or of the series he has created, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie assured to tickle your fancy, but it’s also not impossible to like if you’re not.
Overall Rating: 7/10