• Paul Fingleton

Movie Review: Lazer Team

When four small-town losers stumble across an alien crash site containing an incredible battle suit, they soon find themselves responsible for the fate of the entire planet. With this new alien equipment genetically bound to them, and the government hot on their heels, the foursome have no choice but to work together as one to save humanity. Simple, right?

Lazer Team, the movie, hit headlines when Rooster Teeth announced that they were seeking crowd funding to make their first full-length motion picture. The company had previously made its name on the internet making various short films and more especially known for their hit web series Red vs. Blue - filmed entirely in Microsoft's Halo video game engine - cataloguing the misadventures of two hapless Spartan teams stranded on a deserted location with only their opposition for company.


The crowd funding campaign smashed the crowdfunding record for a movie on Indiegogo by raising $2.4 million, almost $1.8 million more than was initially sought.


With a successful funding campaign behind them, all that was needed from Rooster Teeth was to make the film and please everybody who had set their expectations high, based on the past experience of Rooster Teeth productions.


Review


After millions of years of thinking we are alone in the universe, an intercepted message from an alien race warns us of an incoming invader who plans to destroy the planet. Luckily, this benevolent messenger advises that a Suit of Power will be sent to help the human race to survive. An Earth Champion would be chosen to fight against the chosen Champion of the invading race - much as in biblical times - and to the victor the spoils.


A child is chosen and would be raised by the military to prepare for the day that craft containing the Suit of Power would arrive from Altaria, some 20-30 years hence. Every day would be spent preparing this Champion to defeat the invaders.



A quick training montage, of which Rocky would be proud, later and we see that a small town has built up near the military base. The local high school is where we are introduced to our heroes - Zach, the high school quarterback; Hagan, the small time, small town Deputy; Herman, the washed up, one-time school Football star and Woody, his redneck, idiot, drinking buddy.


Events conspire to bring these four misfits together and stumble across the Suit of Power when it arrives, and rather than leave well alone, end up genetically bonded to the suit. Sort of. Each of the four has a different part of the suit and gains the ability to use the features of that part.


The military, unhappy that years of preparation for the Alien invasion has gone up in smoke look to make lemonade from these four lemons - the brash kid who always shoots his mouth off, has a gun; the overweight, washed-up, injured football star has to be the runner; the Deputy who can't even protect his own police car has the shield and Woody, the redneck, has to become the brains.


It would be safe to say that if the fate of the world hung in the balance, that the scales just tipped in the invaders favour.

Of the quartet, it is Michael Jones who really stands out as Zach the small town football hero. A loud-mouth smart talking kid, whose mouth is writing cheques that his body can't cash. His first thought when discovering the Alien technology is not to worry for his safety or look around for any threats - his first idea is to take a selfie and post it online and #Lazer Team is born.


Gavin Free often gets to deliver and be the butt of many punchlines in the film and the film makers work in a useful way to save him from keeping up his redneck accent for the whole film.


Dunn and Burns round out the team nicely, but their roles and any conflict that they may have existed between them feels a little lost because the movie is not sure whether to pitch them to the fore in the story, or to have them remain to the back and have this more as a teen movie.


Over the course of the film, we see conflict within the team and against the alien invaders as the dysfunctional team break up and get back together more times than Ross and Rachel in Friends until eventually remembering the 'team' part of their moniker.


The film comes with the added expectation and hype from such a successfully crowdfunded film. There are more people invested in the film, so they will want it to be good. Many of the backers would have been Rooster Teeth fans and will be spoiled for choice looking for the cameos of their regular performers - Gus Sorola as the dishevelled army scientist - and this is both a blessing and a curse for the film. There are many nods and winks to not only Rooster Teeth franchises but many popular culture references that take you slightly out of the story. If the camera takes a moment too long panning through the crowd, you can bet there's a Rooster Teeth nod there somewhere.

Verdict

Lazer Team is first and foremost a comedy and there are plenty of moments that will make you laugh out loud. It's not a parody nor spoof of alien or Sci-Fi films but feels very much like a homage to some well-known films in the genre such as The Faculty (starring Elijah Wood, who coincidentally voiced a character in a Rooster Teeth's Red vs Blue series).


You know where the film is likely going as the Team come together to set up the final battle with the Worg and settle the fate of the planet once and for all. , but you have so much fun on the journey that you forgive it the occasional misfire.


A solid feature-length movie debut from a production company that was previously best known for internet shorts. If they can produce this on the budget they had for Lazer Team, I look forward to seeing what they can do with more money - to paraphrase Mel Brooks from Spaceballs, "God willing we will meet up in Lazer Team 2" … or wherever Rooster Teeth want to take use next.


Lazer Team is available on limited release in Irish cinemas and will be available for purchase and download later in the year.


For more details of Irish cinema dates, see LazerTeamTheMovie.com

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