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Videogame movies reviews: Videogame Warriors (or The Controller) (2008?)


Yeah, my DVD says Videogame Warriors, so that's what I'm calling it, okay?

Let's just jump into this one: Videogame Warriors is a straight-to-DVD, $1.99 budget movie about a hip new videogame sweeping the globe and becoming the new sensation. The owner of the company responsible, William Fence, has his wife kidnapped from his home and is forced by her kidnappers to play the game, Liberation Force Earth, in order to save her. The only problem? He hasn't played a game in his life. Hilarity is meant to ensue. It kind of does, but not in the way the directors were expecting.

Videogame Warriors is pretty clearly a low-budget movie with no imagination and no motive for making besides as a foothold onto bigger and better projects, the kind that floods my local video library all too often. You can see one of these a mile away: dopey looking characters, lower quality cinematography and shot clarity, among other things.

This film is no different from that breed. In his mission to free his wife, Bill has to enlist the help of six pro gamers across the country: Fragmaster, a generic black guy who brofists Bill through his online avatar as seen in one of these posters, PappaPooh, a father whose gags situate him getting annoyed at his kids intterupting his playtime (such a socially progressive character, mirite?), Athena, some dumb chick seemingly put in the movie to remind us that girls exist, Master Chief, that hunk of flesh you see in the picture above you, Knarf37, one of those slacker/stoner types who lives at home in a lavish basement, and Mr. Lee, who you never see, but is presumed to be a disabled person playing LFE in order to be equal.

Director Frank Michels obviously wants the humour to deride from how all these personalities play off each other, but you've seen this done before and better. Again, this movie stinks of the cheap budget it's running on, which means that the writers figured little money meant little effort to be put in as trade.

No, the real humour comes from Bob Rue, who plays William. I wish I could show you all some footage of him in this movie. His acting sits right up there with Tommy Wiseau's, his emotionless shell leading to any line coming out of his mouth to die as soon as he speaks. He just maintains this one stagnant emotion throughout the script which leads to some lines completely conflicting with the mood that's meant to be presented. This man needs a Razzie.

Half of the film is set in the game, played on an Xbox (more on this later) and presented through 3D animation. I won't rag on it too much, as there's not much anyone can do with it without any sort of major financial backing (have you seen most of the XBL Indie games? Eugh.) but grenades will always get thrown with pins still in them, the aliens look incredibly stupid and the whole thing just looks embarassing. The original Xbox could easily do better.

Speaking of which...

Yeah, this is a poser movie. No one "gets" the gamer culture at all. As said before, each character has some one-note stereotype attached to them, with a dudebro gamer and slacker fulfilling mainstream society's perception of gamers, and much like all those 90s flicks with games shoehorned into them, all of the characters just mash as buttons as they can when they are playing. It's a bit insulting, to be frank.

The inadequacies don't stop there. One of the biggest flaws is that the film seemingly started filming in 2007...and yet the only console being played is the Xbox. The original one. And it's not like the 360 doesn't exist yet; you can see it on a website ad in the film, and apparently the boot-up sounds for the two consoles were the same. Could they not afford at least one 360 to be shared as the one prop? I know it was more expensive then than it is now, but common peple.

Liberation Force Earth itself is too mainstream a game to be taken seriously. Whilst the rules are gamey enough, simulating the first Halo to a T, the actual flow doesn't make a lot of sense. It's implied that the experience is entirely cooperative, and yet there are ranks. You might think it's in terms of total kills or total campaigns won, but there are also tournaments. Versus tourneys, presumably. It doesn't work.

There are more mistakes besides, but it's kind of the usual stuff: the avatars are completely lipsynched and do actions you couldn't do if you played it, apparently it was the Xbox and not the PS2 that had pressure sensitive buttons on its controllers, stuff like that. All in all, a waste of time except for the main character's acting.


Was this review too long winded for something so trivial? Maybe. I plan on reviewing more videogame-based movies, both direct adaptations and "homages", but I feel this formula needs to be worked on a bit. I would appreciate some feedback on this review in preperation for the next one.
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About Lowlander2one of us since 4:06 AM on 05.10.2011

I am an Australian journalism student, currently in his second year. There isn't much out of the ordinary about my upbringing. I'm just a guy wwho has been playing games for quite a while and enjoying them for the most part. My favourite genre is probably the rhythm game genre. Used to be RPGs, but I haven't really connected with any for a while.

I wouldn't consider myself a very theological or philosophical gamer, and I do tire of some of the devates that occure around games. STFUAJPG and all that. That doesn't mean I have nothing to say, just that I'm not the guy you come to for any sort of real opinion on serious gaming issues. My forte is the more spartan, critical stuff, like reviews and lists and what have you. Moost of my blogs have been reviews on game movies at this point, as a matter of fact.
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