Tag Archives: NR

Review: The Art of Organized Noize

organized noize poster
via iDigital Times

The Art of Organized Noize (2016)

NR

Documentary / Music

Starring: Rico Wade, Ray Murray, Sleepy Brown

Director: Quincy Jones III


Outkast.  Goodie Mob.  TLC.  These groups have done a lot for hip-hop and music in general.  During their rise to fame, they provided a unique sound that was unlike anything anyone had heard before.  They fundamentally changed the landscape of hip-hop.  It’s true that these groups did a lot of good for the industry, but what about the crew behind them…the crew responsible for their music.  The underappreciated group Organized Noize, comprised of Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown, were the production visionaries behind groups like Outkast and Goodie Mob.  Their story, told by director Quincy Jones III in his documentary The Art of Organized Noize, is a fascinating story full of ups and downs.

organized noize 1
via E! Online

The Art of Organized Noize charts the rise of Organized Noize from their days working out of a basement in Atlanta to their days in major recording studios working with higher profile artists.  The documentary covers a lot of ground and does a good job at pulling everything together in a nice and easy timeline.  We get to see some early photos from their early days, which is some pretty cool stuff.  The crew talks a lot about their Dungeon Family days (The Dungeon is what they called their old basement where they did a majority of their work) and the family-first comradery that they developed with each other.

A good portion of the story is told through the eyes of Rico, Ray, and Sleepy but they are not alone.  Guys like Andre 3000, Big Boi, Big Rube, Cee-Lo Green, and Big Gipp, members of the Dungeon Family, are also on hand to give their accounts as well.  Notable producers like LA Reid, a big factor in Organized Noize’s success, make appearances as well.  One thing that’s nice about the documentary is that a lot of the history comes organically.  The guys do a lot of reminiscing as they sit around together, which leads to stories being told.  At times this led to some incoherence and off-topic conversations but it never got too out of hand.  There was a bit where they went into their time with drug usage which didn’t really seem to fit with the whole mantra of the story.

the art of organized noize
via Hip-Hop Wired

Towards the end, legacy started to become the topic at hand.  Quincy Jones and Organized Noize brought in a lot of people to talk about their legacy in the rap industry.  There were a lot of Atlanta based rappers that made an appearance, like 2 Chainz, Ludacris, and Future, that talked about their effect on Atlanta as well as the rap game.  Popular producers today like Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital also talked about how Organized Noize influenced them as producers.  This stuff was necessary for a documentary like this because that’s what makes Organized Noize so fascinating.  They never seemed to get the credit they deserved (the documentary talks a lot about this) yet they had such a profound impact on modern artists in the rap game.

It would have been nice if there was a little more archival footage featured in the documentary.  You get an occasional image flashed here and there, but nothing substantial.  The portions were they walked around their old house and their old studio space were cool, but I would have liked a little more.  You could see their Stankonia recording studio in the background of some of their interviews, but it would have been nice if they showed us around a bit.  I appreciate the abundance of interviews, but I would have liked a more substantial visual supplement to go along with them.

organized noize 2
via Okay Player

A lot of rap fans are not familiar with Organized Noize, a crew of producers responsible for a lot of the trends we see today in rap music, which is why this documentary is an important one.  It tells a really evoking story about the most underappreciated group in rap.  They worked day in and day out but never seemed to get the recognition that they’re peers, like Outkast and Goodie Mob, got.  The Art of Organized Noize is a story that you should make yourself familiar with.  Any fan of rap and hip-hop should enjoy this one a lot.

organized noize score

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Review: Fuller House Season 1

fuller house poster
via Ruck Makers

Fuller House (Season 1) (2016)

Netflix / NR

Comedy / Family

Starring: Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber

Producer: Kelly Sandefur


Oh Mylanta! That’s what the internet shouted upon the announcement that the original cast of 90’s sitcom Full House would be reprising their roles in the new Netflix comedy Fuller House.  The sitcom, which cemented itself as a cultural mainstay, holds a special place in a lot of 90’s kids hearts, so when the reboot was announced (with the original cast), I was pretty excited to return to everybody’s favorite San Francisco townhouse.

fuller house 1
via Pop Shifter

Let’s first break down the cast.  Almost everyone from the original makes it on to the show, including Danny (Bob Saget), Joey (Dave Coulier), Jesse (John Stamos), Becky (Lori Loughlin), D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), Kimmy (Andrea Barber), and even Steve Hale (Scott Weinger).  Notice how the Olsen twins aren’t present on the billing?  Yep, unfortunately these two were the only main cast members to not make an appearance.  (Don’t worry, the show does a pretty good job of reminding you about that.)  There’s also some new additions in terms of the kids.  D.J. Tanner’s kids, Jackson and Max, are played by Michael Campion and Elias Harger (a big ball of energy) respectively.  Twins Dashiell and Fox Messitt play D.J.’s youngest, Tommy Fuller Jr.  Finally, the other primary character we see is Kimmy’s daughter Ramona, played (pretty well) by Soni Bringas.

If you’re from the outside looking in, you would probably expect that Danny, Joey, and Jessie would be present throughout the entirety of the series, but that doesn’t hold true.  Instead, Fuller House centers around the story of D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy who end up inheriting the house from Danny who, along with the older crew, are moving out and doing their own things.  (Don’t worry, the likes of Danny, Joey, Jesse, and Becky make sprinkled appearances here and there!) The majority of the story focuses on that fact that the girls are now older, living more adult lives.  Relationships, parenting, and other adult things tend to be the new focus.  Also…a lot more boob and sex jokes, furthering the show from its predecessor’s squeaky clean image.

fuller house 2
via IB Times

Longtime and fervent fans of Full House should find bundles of things to love about Fuller House.  The show’s producers and directors did a pretty bang-up job of recreating the look and feel of the original series.  The interior of the house (albeit some minor changes) looks like a carbon copy of the house we have come to love and the actors fit right back into their characters with ease.  The new theme song, sung by Carly Rae Jepson, is pretty amazing and the show provides a good bit of flashbacks to the original.  Not an episode went by without some reference to the old show.  It made Fuller House fun to watch.

However, if you take away the nostalgia and present the show as it is…there isn’t that much there unfortunately.  The show leans a little too heavily on the nostalgia factor, sacrificing good writing in the process.  A lot of the humor is a little too on-the-nose for my tastes.  A good bit of the jokes fell flat as well.  There were some genuinely funny moments (D.J. Tanner and her plumber, the whole SF Giants episode) but a lot of the humor just wasn’t working for me.  There’s also a love triangle that develops between D.J. and two other guys that has its moments, but just comes off as cheesy and predictable in the end.  I’m not going to spoil the final episode, but let’s just say I predicted it from a couple of miles away.  It wasn’t the payoff that I was expecting.

fuller house 3
via Hypable

I enjoyed my time with Fuller House best when I just forgot about the parts that make it an average sitcom and instead enjoyed the heavy doses of nostalgia that it shovels at viewers.  I’m willing to bet that most people who will watch the show are coming for the nostalgia, so it should bode pretty well with fans.  However, if you take off the nostalgia-goggles and view the final product as a whole, it’s a show that has some issues.  Did I enjoy Fuller House?  Sure, for the most part.  Is it a good comedy?  No way, Jose! (Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh…but it’s not good) To no surprise, the show was just renewed today for a second season, so this gives them another chance to right their wrongs and put out a second season better than the first.

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Fuller House

Review: The Babadook

the babadook poster
via Rotten Tomatoes

The Babadook (2014)

NR / 93 mins

Drama / Horror / Thriller

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall

Director: Jennifer Kent


Everybody remembers the classic ritual of bedtime stories.  As kids we would brush our teeth, put on our pajamas, and then climb into bed excitedly as we would wait for night’s fairytale or children’s story.  At least that’s how I remember it.  The Babadook, an indie horror flick directed by Jennifer Kent, is an example of bad parenting.

the babadook 1
via Cine-Nerd

The movie stars troubled mother Amelia (Essie Davis) and her delinquent son Sam, played by child actor Noah Wiseman.  Through the use of flashbacks, we discover that the two are grieving the death of their father.  Things are not easy and over the course of the movie we watch as the two spiral down a dark path.  Sam is a problem child, throwing frequent tantrums that begin to turn violent.  He’s fascinated with the idea of fighting and protecting his mother from monsters.  This soon leads to a mysterious book, called “The Babadook,” which Sam asks his mom to read.

This is where the bad parenting comes in.  The book is introduced around halfway through the movie and by that point Amelia should have noticed that her son wasn’t doing well.  The decision to read her son a (rather frightening) book about a dark monster who lives in the dark side of the bedroom is probably not the best.  As one would expect, this drives Sam’s mental state into a deeper downward spiral and things start to go pretty bad very quickly when the demonic book starts to haunt their house, and everything in it.

the babadook 2
via Joblo

I’m normally not a huge fan of horror movies; not because they are dumb but because the premise behind most of them are stupid and often times predictable.  The concept behind The Babadook is not entirely new, but it provides enough dumb fun to make it enjoyable.  A lot of the scenes, especially the ones dealing with the storybook, are kind of silly and stupid, but they aren’t bad enough to make the movie unwatchable.  I found myself snickering a lot more than getting scared, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Speaking of getting scared, the movie is generally tame when it comes to the spooks.  Although, there are some disturbing scenes and imagery that will make anyone cringe.  One of the best parts about the movie is its reliance on disturbing imagery, rather than jump scares, to frighten viewers.  It made the movie feel less cheap and gives the movie a more authentic quality.  The imagery used during the storybook sequences are really well done and the pages literally come to life on screen, which was really fun to watch.

the babadook 3
via TVQC

Performance wise, you can take it or leave it.  The movie primarily focuses on Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman, with some supporting cast here and there.  Their acting isn’t necessarily the best, but it is good enough to be passable.  In the end, I didn’t really care because when all’s said and done, The Badadook is a B-movie affair.  The acting took a backseat for me, as I was too caught up in the fun that was happening on screen.

Perhaps the big takeaway from The Babadook is that you shouldn’t read your young kids a dark storybook about the monsters that make noises in the night.  C’mon, that’s a disaster waiting to happen, as evidenced by the movie.  There are a plethora of better horror films out there, but this one holds its own as being a dumb fun kind of movie that you can just give a mindless watch.

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‘Bone Tomahawk’ Is My Bone Daddy

bone tomahawk posterBone Tomahawk (2015)

NR / 132 min

Horror / Western

Starring: Zahn McClarnon, Patrick Wilson, Kurt Russell

Director: S. Craig Zahler


A review by Tristan Mowat of Evade Gismo

Whatever you’re doing right now probably isn’t as important as watching this movie. It is customarily routine for me to keep a watchful eye on interesting films in some of my favorite genres: Horror and Westerns. I think we can all raise a guilty hand to being some form of genre fanboy or girl. Neglecting a shitty flick for a great set or setting- for the flavor of the story alone. But we need those bad movies don’t we? They are just as important as the good ones because, of course, they elevate the great films and show us what ‘good’ is supposed to look like.

You ever find something online so perfect that you covet it and share it with your friends with your own ‘trust me it’s awesome’ seal of approval? Only to watch those friends turn around- claim it as theirs? Isn’t it hard not to claim it as your own treasure? And doesn’t it hurt a bit when your friends fail to acknowledge that it was you who found it in the first place? This is one of those treasures for me but I’m sharing it with you guys in case you might have missed it.

It is what it looks like. It’s a Western Horror movie. Two things I’ve unknowingly and unconsciously desired for quite some time. Probably ever since i saw Unforgiven as a kid and fell in love with the Western genre. It’s well written, all the sentences are complete and courteous. With every syllable perfectly accounted for. Back in the good ole days when using slang was like saying ‘CUNT’ to your grandmother.

IMDB is showing that the budget for the movie was $1.8 million. So virtually nothing. With all the great acting littering the story you can almost see Kurt Russell reading the script and calling all his friends to climb on board. Everyone is here because they fell in love with the script. Clearly they are not as interested in the money as they are with telling a unique story. It’s original, oddly compelling and suspenseful.

You will hear us talking about tension and suspense a lot, so you’re going to have to get use to that. It’s an intriguing device in storytelling. It’s cheap (pretty much free) but rarely used effectively. But when it does- WHOAH BABY! Although the tense moment means nothing without the payoff. Usually the payoffs, in this case, look like somebody getting their head blown apart, point being the film doesn’t chise out on you. Also the jaw bone tomahawks are magical and can cut anything in half. The action is very brutal and gave my wife a rough ‘sleep.’ The violence here felt like a rich meal –  something you can understand and fill up on with a few bites.

bone tomahawk 1

So the deal here is some drifter walks all over some cannibalistic native predator monsters ‘sacred ground’ and get chased into town. They kidnap sheriff’s deputy and some hot chick doctor. Sheriff “old Kirtypants” heads out to recover them. Nice and simple, like a western should be.  The ‘savages’ are a cartoonish version of a ‘Native’ It’s the furthest thing from human. I’m glad they took the enemies to the extreme physically, it would have been awkward if they hadn’t gone so monsterish.

bone tomahawk 2

All told this was a well thought out surprise from, not a first time director, but someone getting the hang of things. Thanks Craig Zahler your bones are really sharp.

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Review: Hot Girls Wanted

via IMDB
via IMDB

Hot Girls Wanted (2015)

NR / 84 min.

Documentary

Starring: Farrah Abraham, Rachel Bernard, Tony D.

Directors: Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus


Documentaries about porn.  Usually I tend to stick away from them.  First of all, they are not the kinds of things you are going to sit down and watch with other people…because that’s just weird.  They also tend to highlight the glamorous party lifestyles that the people involved in the industry usually tend to lead on.  Bottom line, most of the documentaries are not good.  However, Hot Girls Wanted has been getting a lot of buzz ever since it debuted in February.  I decided to give it a look…with a slight tinge of hesitancy.

What we get from Hot Girls Wanted, produced by actress Rashida Jones, is a documentary about a certain slice of the porn industry…the amateur portion of the industry.  It’s an exploitative atmosphere for young models wanting to make it big and the documentary’s goal is to show how easy it is for a girl, turning eighteen, to get her foot in the industry’s door.  How easy you say?  All it takes is a craigslist ad and proof that you are eighteen.  Before you know it, you can be whisked away on a plane to the amateur porn hotspot they call Miami, Florida.

via Variety
via Variety

Viewers often get a candid look at a plethora of different “porn actresses” with various experience in the industry, but the main focus is put on young eighteen year old Tressa Silguero, a seemingly innocent girl who finds herself given the opportunity to make a lot of money.  She stumbles upon the craigslist ad created by Riley Reynolds, founder of Hussie Models.  (Side Note: this Reynolds character is pretty much the exact stereotype of a guy in the amateur porn industry, sleazy as can be)  Before she knows it, Tressa is making a lot of money, gaining a new following on social media, and becoming a popular teen porn star.

The documentary reveals that she has not told her parents about her new job, which is mind-blowing for me.  I cannot imagine the type of parents that would be okay with sending their baby girl, straight out of high school, on a pretty lengthy trip to Miami.  Things start to slip for Tressa and she ends up telling her parents, as well as her boyfriend, about her newfound fame in the porn industry.  The interactions between Tressa and her family were some of the weak spots of the documentary, considering all of the cameras probably take away from the authenticity of these conversations.  The interactions seem fake, especially given the subject matter that they have to discuss.  Parents who find out that their daughter has been making porn without telling them would be bouncing off the walls with anger, along with a plethora of other emotions.  Instead, we see a calm and collected mother lecturing her child.  It does not have a profound effect on the viewer.

via Movie Pilot
via Movie Pilot

Amateur porn has not been a focus of most porn documentaries, which makes Hot Girls Wanted a rare and unique breed.  The direction and focus of the documentary lacks clarity however.  The goal is to open people’s eyes about how easy it is for young women to get into porn.  Its almost meant to shock viewers.  Tressa’s story sticks with the theme, but the rest seems to glorify the young women getting into the industry.  We often see the girls having the time of their lives.  The documentary is quick to tell viewers that these models are making a lot of money pretty quickly.  All it takes is a couple of months of hard work and you can net yourself a pretty penny.  The documentary even ends with a “where are they now?” segment that shows a couple of the actresses still making it big in the industry.  Tressa ends up leaving porn behind, but it was not clear by the end of the documentary if it was trying to argue for or against the amateur porn industry.

Hot Girls Wanted did succeed in opening my eyes to the seedy underbelly of porn and the types of things that models have to endure on their rise to stardom, but the documentary lacked direction.  The cameras were intrusive as they could be, following these girls in the most candid of ways, which was interesting but led to some fake and unauthentic interactions.  I have to give Rashida Jones some credit for giving us a unique look at the industry from a different angle, but it could have been a lot better in what it was trying to accomplish.

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Review: No No: A Dockumentary

via Google Play
via Google Play

No No: A Dockumentary (2014)

NR / 100 min

Documentary / Sports

Starring: Dock Ellis

Director: Jeff Radice


Baseball is a sport that has had a lot of characters throughout its long storied history.  Among the long list of famous baseball players, Dock Ellis is one of those guys that probably flies under the radar. How he flies under the radar, I do not know.  He is probably one of the most intriguing players, if not one of the craziest pitchers to play the game.  No No: A Dockumentary tells his story.

Director Jeff Radice does not waste his time in the beginning of the documentary, starting with Dock’s claim to fame; his no-hitter with the Pittsburgh Pirates under the influence of LSD.  A feat like this is almost impossible, but somehow, some way, Dock Ellis found a way to pull history off against the San Diego Padres.

via The Dissolve
via The Dissolve

The title is misleading though, as the documentary starts to branch off into other directions.  We indeed get the story of Dock’s no hitter, but we get a much bigger exploration into the crazy life that Dock Ellis led.  He was an alcoholic, a drug addict, and was never afraid to ramble off what was on his mind.  He’s a player that would not last a second in today’s world, but managed to create a name for himself back when he first played for the Pirates.  He was a talented pitcher, managing to pitch under the influence of a number of different drugs.  The drugs “took the edge off” and managed to loosen up his appearance on the mound.  He was a pitcher that had an effect on the psyche of hitters.  They never knew what kind of state the man was in.

With that many drugs going through his system on a daily basis, it was no surprise that his personal life started to take a downhill direction.  He had different girlfriends, but these relationships never seemed to all end abruptly thanks to Dock’s drug problem.  He also led a party life that often got him into trouble.  These effects changed him however, and the last part of the documentary documents Dock’s return to sobriety, and his defeat of his drug and alcohol addiction.  It was a change for the better, and it led him to teach and counsel others going through the same types of struggles that he went through.

via PGH City Paper
via PGH City Paper

The story is told by friends, family, former players and Dock himself, who was present for some interviews.  They all had interesting things to say about Dock, painting him as a good man, with a lot of vices.  Radice does a good job of framing the story with music from the era as well, giving the documentary a cool psychedelic feel straight out of the 70’s.  It was a good fit.  As far as actual game footage go, it was pretty scarce.  Most of the footage came from his famed no hitter, but the majority of the film was still photos and interviews from others.  It would have been nice to see some other footage, perhaps from his game against the Cincinnati Reds, where he was on a mission to hit everyone in their lineup until he got taken out.

Another thing that came to question was the documentary’s sudden end.  The documentary does not disappoint and managed to keep the story going through its 100 minute runtime, but it came to a quick end.  It almost seemed like there was a little more story to be told.  I do not know if Radice had to make some cuts for time concerns or what, but it just did not seem right.

via Youtube
via Youtube

No No: A Dockumentary manages to tell a compelling story about one of the craziest and lesser known players of the game.  He was outspoken, pitched a no-hitter, started an all-star game, and played for a number of teams during his wild career.  He has not received a hall of fame nod, but perhaps that is because the kind of life he led does not necessarily match up with the kind of example you want to set for young players of the game.  Either way, the now deceased Dock Ellis deserves a nice comfy spot in baseball history as one the most storied players of the game, and his documentary demands your attention.

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Review: Atari: Game Over

via IMDB
via IMDB

Atari: Game Over (2014)

NR / 66 min.

Documentary

Starring: Zak Penn, Joe Lewandowski, Robert Rentschler

Director: Zak Penn


Everybody remembers the Atari 2600.  The legendary home video console was one of the biggest cultural phenomenon of the 1980’s.  It was considered the system that caused the home video game revolution, and arguably the gaming revolution as a whole.  It had a massive impact, delivering some of the most classic and revolutionary games to a generation of gamers.

With Atari sitting high and mighty on top in terms of commercial success, what brought their empire tumbling down?  That is the question that documentary Atari: Game Over aims to answer.  Director Zak Penn tells the story of the infamous “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” Atari 2600 game cartridge that ultimately brought on the eventual demise of the Atari 2600.  This statement has been argued by many game critics and theorists, but the failure of the game, which was considered to be frustratingly tough and boring, could not be denied.

via Film Pulse
via Film Pulse

The game, created by Atari software engineer Howard Scott Warshaw, did so poorly for the company that they decided to literally bury the game and leave it behind them.  Urban legend detailed how Atari buried millions of the E.T. game cartridges in a landfill all the way out in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  The story is pretty interesting, although kind of silly at the same time.  It was a story so interesting that Zak Penn decided to chronicle the investigation of the mysterious burial of the game.

Penn brings on a lot of people onto the project to tell the story.  Joe Lewandowski, a waste disposal expert and historian, was fascinated by the urban legend, which caused him to investigate the scene of the burial.  We also get to hear a lot of input from the likes of Warshaw himself, former mayor of Alamogordo Robert Rentschler, screenwriter and novelist Ernest Cline, game historian Mike Mika, and Manny Gerard, the chief operating officer of Warner Communications.  Although some of these guests had more interesting things to say than some of the others, they all seemed necessary to tell the tale.

via Xbox News
via Xbox News

The documentary’s main focus was the rise and fall of Atari.  Although this information was an important farming piece for the landfill excavation, it was a shame to see less of the attention given to the actual dig itself.  Throughout the documentary we got bits and pieces of the set-up for the dig, with a big portion towards the end focusing on the actual event itself.  However, most of the running time was devoted to the history of Atari and some of its other successful games like “Adventure” and “Yar’s Revenge.”

The documentary is a gold mine of information however.  If you have never heard of Atari and its place in gaming history, the documentary does a good job of filling you in.  It also gives some fresh tidbits of information for those already well versed in the company’s history.  I was quite surprised to hear about the “party-all-the-time” lifestyle and work environment that took place at Atari back in the day.  It was these kinds of facts that made up for the information that we have heard before in previous documentaries.

 via Science Fiction
via Science Fiction

Some of the interactions that Penn had with some of the story’s key players were a little cheesy and on the nose, but entertaining to say the least.  The dig itself was captured quite well, giving us a good look at the crazy, and arguably silly, event.  The archeologists faced a tough challenge with the dig, but they ultimately found what they were looking for.  After some hard work and intense heat, the cartridges were eventually found.  It was a moment of triumph, as well as emotion, especially for Warshaw, who was pleased with the amount of recognition and publicity that the terrible game was getting.

Atari: Game Over tells a zany story about digging up glorified trash in the middle of the desert.  It is a concept that seems like it would not deserve its own documentary, but Zak Penn did an alright job at providing us with a lot of information and stories to make the experience generally worthwhile.  It was also pretty interesting to hear the experiences and perspectives from some of the key player in the story.  Atari’s handling of the situation by burying the ET cartridges is one of gaming’s weirdest story, and Atari: Game Over does a pretty good job of putting it all into perspective.

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Review: Video Games: The Movie

via MCM Buzz
via MCM Buzz

Video Games: The Movie (2014)

NR / 105 min

Documentary / Animation / History

Starring: Sean Astin, Al Alcorn, Peter Armstrong

Director: Jeremy Snead


Movies and video games have always had a weird relationship.  Big corporate companies would often cash in on the big movie releases of the summer, making video game adaptations to go alongside these blockbusters.  They always fell short, with the exception of a few.  On the other hand, we are starting to hear a lot about movies based off video games.  Assassins Creed, World Of Warcraft, and Uncharted have all been in talks to receive movie counterparts.  What about a movie based on video games as a whole?  Well, Video Games: The Movie had the heart and soul, but ultimately didn’t make the mark.

The documentary takes a look at the story of video games, and the people and events that got them to where they are today as one of the entertainment world’s biggest industries.  The documentary wasted no time displaying the graphs and charts that proved video game’s dominance in the entertainment market.  I didn’t think this portion of the project was necessary, considering I didn’t need any convincing that video games are on top.

via Geek Tyrant
via Geek Tyrant

Narrated by Sean Astin, Video Games: The Movie contains a bunch of interviews and bits from some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as the journalistic industry that covers them.  We saw the likes of Cliff Bleszinski (who was also the executive producer on the project), Al Alcorn, Nolan Bushnell, Will Wheaton, Chris Hardwick, Donald Faison, Peter Armstrong, and many more.  I was pleasantly surprised about the amount of talent that was on board.  There was little narration during the course of the story.  The story was told by the game’s creators and the people that influenced them as time went on.

via Film Dump
via Film Dump

There was a timeline of video games that basically served as the backbone for the documentary.  We went up and down the timeline, exploring the games, systems, creators, and other events that impacted the industry, as well as its fans.  Along the way, the documentary covered some of the industry’s biggest issues, like the big Industry Crash, as well as the influence of games like Grand Theft Auto on violence.  All of these issues were covered on a surface level depth, and they don’t really dive deep into any one of them.  They did a good job at mostly covering everything, but maybe that’s the problem of a movie trying to document video games as a whole.  How do you cover everything at a satisfying level?

The biggest problem about the documentary was its lack of new material; stuff we haven’t seen before.  I’ve read a lot about the history of the video game industry, and I’ve seen a fair share of historic videos.  Nothing that Video Games: The Movie covered was necessarily new, or enlightening.  There was a notable absence of talk about the mobile gaming industry, including smartphones.  They have had a profound effect on gaming, and they were nowhere to be seen.  I also would have liked to have seen some other issues plaguing the industry, like the free-to-play arena, as well as the issue of online gaming and harassment.  Perhaps this documentary wasn’t the right venue for issues like these, but I would have liked to see something different than just “the history of video games.”

via Highsnobiety
via Highsnobiety

There were times were the documentary felt like a promotional video for video games.  In between periods of interviews, I would see these drawn out highlight reels showing scenes from video games of yesteryear, as well as the games we are playing today.  These “highlight reels” of sorts weren’t really needed, and they didn’t offer anything to the table.  They were just there to get people excited about gaming in general.  If I wanted to do that, I would just go watch a batch of trailers.  I didn’t need a feature length film to do that for me.

Hearing the story from some of the industry’s greats was a nice touch, but Video Games: The Movie could have been so much more.  There was a lack of depth, which was surprising to me.  Instead, we got a bunch of fan service and highlight reels to get everybody feeling good about games.  I would much rather have a documentary covering specific issues or events in video games’ history, with more insight.  The documentary suffers from being too broad, and trying to do too much.  If you want a good documentary on video games, I would probably point you to Indie Game: The Movie.  It’s much more intriguing than Video Games: THE HYPEFEST VIDEO GAMES ARE GREAT YOU GUYS!

video games the movie score