Max Reload and The Nether Blasters, 2020.
Directed by Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp.
Starring Tom Plumley, Hassie Harrison, Joey Morgan, Lukas Gage, Joseph D. Reitman, Richard Lippert, Greg Grunberg, Kevin Smith, Lin Shaye, Martin Kove, Jesse Kove and Wil Wheaton.
A small town video game store clerk must go from zero to hero after accidentally unleashing the forces of evil from a cursed Colecovision game…
Who doesn’t love a slice of old school retro fused nostalgia? It’s hot right now, and between a love of pop culture referencing in film and TV, to a show as loaded in reverence as Stranger Things, a love of the retro and nerd culture often combine effectively. Which brings us to Max Reload and The Nether Blasters. Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp weave the tale of Max (with his online moniker Max Reload), a gaming obsessed nerd who works in a games store with two not quite equally nerdy cohorts, for his boss, the extremely nerdy Kevin Smith (essentially playing an OTT version of himself). Max is a lover of online role-playing games, but with a distinct appreciation for retro games, notably a particular series of games that began on the Colecovision console. If you’ve heard of that particular console, then this film will almost certainly tickle your fancy, and I’ll say that right off the bat.
When Max happens upon a supposedly lost final instalment in the franchise, he unwittingly unlocks a curse and sets about a chain of events that puts everyone in mortal danger. Only he and his friends (and the games creator) can save the day. This comedy adventure film, is packed with some colourful visual FX as game elements meld with real life, whilst retro animation ‘cut scenes’ often permeate the story in places too. There’s definitely a sense of the young adult cast evoking a Stranger Things-esque adventure, crossed with Jumanji (particularly the gaming-centric Dwayne Johnson era films), but on a smaller scale.
It’s often silly, though when it plays things a little straighter, we get a few standard tropes from this kind of film (Max has to learn to be team orientated and responsible, and also has to deal with local jocks etc). The key to the film working though, lies in a general sense of fun everyone appears to be having and there’s a good sense of camaraderie in the cast. Tom Plumley is a likeable lead as Max, whilst Hassie Harrison is the cool and sassy gamer girl who makes her trope character likeable and engaging. The established cast members like Martin Kove, Lin Shaye and particularly Kevin Smith enjoy their roles and boost the star power of the film.
Visually there are plenty of eye catching effects that look knowingly game-like. Rather than going for extreme realism, which wouldn’t work, they go for bright neon colour for a sense of a game world bursting out into life. Additionally, the synth score has a definite and welcome nod to the 80’s. It’s not ground breaking, but it is enjoyable, and gamers, retro gaming enthusiasts and nostalgia hounds will find plenty to enjoy here.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due in 2020/21, including The Witches Of Amityville (starring Emmy winner, Kira Reed Lorsch), War of The Worlds: The Attack and the star studded action films, Renegades (Lee Majors, Billy Murray) and Crackdown. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see here.