“From everything Rolfe stands for being included somewhere in the film, and an ending that will definitely satisfy any fan’s appetite that has long been unrecognized, the film lives up to the web series and honors the principles of Rolfe’s career accordingly.”
For several years now, I have long admired filmmaker James Rolfe and his online series The Angry Video Game Nerd for a barrage of reasons. For starters, Rolfe and his “nerd” persona have single-handedly resurrected a low-key demographic of retro gaming, bringing it more into the mainstream, to the point where, I believe, he deserves some credit for etching the names of consoles like Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System into the vocabularies of this generation (hell, he was the direct motivation for me purchasing my NES and a library of games in 2011). His series, which, for over one-hundred episodes, picks a game from a classic console and critiques it in a manner that is extremely vulgar, often juvenile, but so well-written and slickly edited and produced that quickly becomes part of its charm. Rolfe, in addition, manages to remain so eloquent and informed despite sounding so graphic with his descriptions. The Angry Video Game Nerd remains a staple in some of my favorite internet-exclusive content.
The Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is a blatant, one-hundred and fourteen minute tribute to the fans that have kept this series going for an upwards of one-hundred episodes, and it’s a damn fine tribute at that. It concerns our beloved Nerd, who is informed by his pal Cooper (Jeremy Suarez) that Eee Tee 2 is in production, which will serve as a sequel to the infamous Eee Tee (not called E.T. for presumed copyright reasons) video game for the Atari 2600, which is widely considered to be the worst game of all time. Despite being known for reviewing and ripping apart awful games from decades past, the Nerd has still not reviewed Eee Tee in any sense and is constantly badgered and reminded of his failure to do so.
Frustrated by the requests from his fans after persistent “no’s” and disillusionment because he works a video game store, where businesses like Cockburn Industries, Inc. pester him to review their abysmal games, the Nerd faces a predicament of the highest order. On top of the multitude of requests to review “Eee Tee,” Nerd is also sick of hearing about the rumored burial of hundreds of thousands of Atari 2600 cartridges after the commercial failure of “Eee Tee” among other things led to Atari going bankrupt in 1983. The Nerd, Cooper, and Cockburn executive Mandi (Sarah Glendening) embark on a trip to Alamogordo, New Mexico in order to see if the urban legend is true or not. The trio faces trouble when they are mistaken as extra-terrestrial hunters by General Dark Onward (Stephen Mendel), who demands the capture of the three.
As one can see, to take this material seriously would be not only an insult to one’s intelligence but unfair to the film at hand. The Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie makes about as much sense as the storyline to some of the horrendous Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis games the Nerd has made a career out of reviewing. With this, the film adheres to one of the Nerd’s nods to his unexpected career and legacy, with the second nod is being the relatively low budge visual effects, greatly adhering to Rolfe’s love for B-movies and classic monster movies from decades past.
Several reviews have criticized the film’s poor special effects, which makes me question how well they know the online series. The series, from the get-go, has utilized poor special effects because of Rolfe’s love for practical effects of computer generated imagery, and communicates an essence of amateur, home-video quality that is incredibly close to home. “The Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie” exercises those kind of cheap special effects on a larger scale in a way that adheres to the principles of his older episodes. If the film looked any glossier or more aesthetically accomplished, I have a feeling many would criticize it for being overblown and insincere.
Then there’s the fact that if you’re a fan of The Angry Video Game Nerd, I struggle to see how one could be disappointed by the film at hand. From everything Rolfe stands for being included somewhere in the film, and an ending that will definitely satisfy any fan’s appetite that has long been unrecognized, the film lives up to the web series and honors the principles of Rolfe’s career accordingly. It’s a fun, joyous romp through the glories of low-budget filmmaking, and a successful film adaptation of a series that still has a lot of uncharted territory.