“This movie is the epitome of a popcorn-flick, and that is not a bad thing…”
So I just saw Lazer Team, which is about four guys who are thrust into the position of defending the planet from an alien attack after they stumble upon a suit of power armour and each adorn one piece. The film is made by Rooster Teeth Productions who, for those who don’t know, create web-based content and have done so for years.
I am going to preface this review by saying that even though I have been a fan of Rooster Teeth for many years, and even contributed to the funding of this film through indiegogo, these things will not affect the way I review this movie. I do not feel connected to this movie at all through donating to their crowd funding campaign, all I did was throw them a couple of bucks and they threw me a T-shirt and some memorabilia.
So let’s get started. Lazer Team is the first major motion picture made by Rooster Teeth, and boy does it show. I’m going to start airing my grievances first stating the most unforgivable, and scaling downward from there. The first problem I had with Lazer Team was the CGI. the CGI in this movie is so fucking terrible that it looks like they just took assets from the cartoon ReBoot (if you don’t want to look this up, my point is the effects are shitty) and plopped them into their movie. Listen, I understand that having great special effects costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time, but if you are willing to put in the time and money for said effects then MAKE A MOVIE WITH FEWER AND/OR EASIER TO ACCOMPLISH EFFECTS. I apologize for typing in all caps, but it really bugs me. The funny part is, there were times where they totally could have not shown the thing that was completely CGI, or used some camera trickery to make us think it was there, but they opted to go for the “fuck it!” route and throw in as much shitty CGI as their budget could handle. I’m not joking when I say the look of this movie will be it’s Achilles heel. The movie just came out and already it looks outdated. The next thing I want to talk about is the use of cameos by members of Rooster Teeth. To clarify what I mean by that, people who work at Rooster Teeth and are seen regularly on Rooster Teeth shows were featured in the movie. I’m perfectly fine with that. The part I’m not fine with, is having completely unnecessary shots to accommodate these cameos. Seriously, the first half of this movie felt like complete fan service. Having an action scene unfold and then suddenly cutting away to a completely different shot of a crowd reacting to said action scene just to feature a personality from your company smack-dab in the middle of the frame is not okay. I know this is isn’t the case, but it felt very narcissistic. I understand that everyone from the company probably wanted to be in the movie, because who doesn’t want to be in a movie, but having scenes that are completely unrelated the story show up just to showcase someone who wanted to be in a movie is poor film making. And just like the CGI augment, there were ways that this could have been implemented while still keeping the movie bearable.
Those were my two main complaints with the movie, but I also have some minor complaints that I want to get off of my chest. Right off of the bat, the acting isn’t great. I’m not going to go in depth, I’m just going to say that it is painfully obvious who the professional actors are in this movie. The next problem I had was the editing. Now this problem was only really prevalent during the first part of the movie, when all of the aforementioned cameos were taking place, but the editing was very all over the place, some shots only staying on the screen for the blink of an eye. I’m not against fast edits, but when you have so many in such a short time, it just gets confusing and feels more like I am being subjected to subliminal messaging than enjoying a movie. To go along with editing, the ADR in this movie was a little fucked up as well. For those who don’t know ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) is when actors re-record their lines in a sound booth to get better audio, that audio is then merged with the video and voila, you can hear that person perfectly. The problem I had with ADR in this movie is it rarely matched up with the actor’s mouths. Sometimes the actors would walk away while still saying their lines, and sometimes the line would continue after the actors mouth and stopped moving. There was also a couple of times where the actors mouth didn’t match up at all with what they were saying, it was kind of like watching a weird dubbed movie.
Some other things I didn’t like about the movie was the choice of music, as well as the use of slo-mo and explosions. For the music, most of the music choices felt out of place. Rooster Teeth has a relationship with musician Jeff Williams and pretty much just used all of his songs for this movie. This seemed kind of lazy to me (which is easy for me to say, I’m just some asshole who watches movies) as well as the music choices either didn’t fit the tone of the scene, or in parts where they actually used an orchestra for original music, fit the tone of the scene so well it was over the top. Also, a lot of the music had lyrics, which is just really a poor choice for scenes where the actors have dialogue. These are the kinds of mistakes I would expect from student film makers. As for the use of Slo-Mo and explosions it was just too gratuitous. One of the members of the company, Gavin Free, owns and professionally operates a slow motion camera, and it seems that they really milked this fact for their movie. It seemed like every 5 minutes there was a shot of something in slow motion. I understand some things being in slow motion (like the presentation of one character’s super speed power) like explosions, but some shots were just people running. The use of explosions was also gratuitous, and I feel this is due to the use of slow motion. People chastise Michael Bay for over using explosions, but he has nothing on Lazer Team. It seemed like everything in the universe was rigged with C4. I’m happy the explosions looked nice, I just could have done with a lot less of them. It almost feels like they knew their movie didn’t have a whole lot of substance, so they tried to make it as pretty as possible.
Finally, what I want to talk about is the story. Lazer team is as basic as you can get, hitting every single beat from every single unlikely hero story since the beginning of time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I’m just a little disappointed they played it so safe on the story front. All of the characters were super personified archetypes, and many times they broke the ‘Show, don’t tell’ rule. But every once in a while, you see a shimmering light of a fucking funny script break through the otherwise basic popcorn-flick. And that is why I enjoyed it. The parts that are funny, are hilarious, and the parts that aren’t particularly funny are still pretty funny. This movie knows how to do one thing better than most movies, have fun. You can tell that everyone on set had an absolute blast filming this movie, and believe it or not that absolutely transfers to the audiences enjoyment of the film. Despite all of the negative things I said about this movie, I will give it praise because it didn’t try to be something that it isn’t. This movie is the epitome of a popcorn-flick, and that is not a bad thing. It is a completely enjoyable ride from start to finish and I can’t wait to watch it again.
I give Lazer Team a B (4/5)