Max Reload and the Nether Blasters is fine enough filler for the kickstarter crowd that gave it life, but someone outside the bubble of financiers/friends/family probably won’t find much entertainment here aside from amateur mocking target practice. It’s probably reasonably kid-friendly as well since I don’t recall any harsh language, sexuality, non-video game violence, or anything by way of even mildly offensive–except to good taste of course, zing!
Video game store employees Max (Tom Plumley), Liz (Hassie Harrison), and Reggie (Joey Morgan) fill most days at work with talk about gaming before spending their night hours on some fantasy quest before happily repeating it all the next day. Things change when a long lost copy of old school 80’s video game Nether Dungeon mysteriously shows up and begins turning players into possessed, red-eyed minions of an unknown enemy. Max and his friends find assistance in Nether Dungeon’s creator, Eugene (Greg Grunberg), who’s spent his life trying to ensure the demons of his game stay buried, in addition to Steve the helpful delivery man (Jesse Kove) and a few others as they try to save the world from supernatural magics of ages long past.
This shoots for silly, dumb fun with its various hijinks, banter, video game graphics, chosen one tropes, and references galore but at a certain point the childish interactions feel more like failed humor or repetitive filler. Once the surface level, consequence-free, and rather humorless shenanigans become the only game in town we’re left with the fairly limp characters. A supportive & chubby best friend, a strong & sassy love interest, a douchebag bro bully, Gramps the Veteran (Martin Kove), a muscley idiot, and man children galore!
Between Kevin Smith as himself (not really, but kind of) and Greg Grunberg’s “off the grid” (he lives with his mom) Eugene there’s a steady presence of schoolboys feeding off one another’s immaturity and adolescent bickerings. Those things can be hilarious, of course, as can pretty much whatever in the right hands–these were just not those hands. If watching Kevin Smith do his Comic Book Nerd Manchild schtick or suffering through Grunberg’s grating efforts at humor works for you then I’m sure it’s loads of fun. I prefer some action, adventure, or comedy in my action adventure comedies.
It feels a little cringe worthy sometimes thanks to a bunch of awkward lines and references that aren’t exactly subtle–more the kind where characters explicitly state what they’re quoting from or the quotes themselves are shoehorned in so as to call attention. I guess the audience can’t be trusted to follow without spelling it out? Also, things like someone stumbling only to regain their footing with an “I’m good! I’m good!” or saying “Momma…” at the sight of a scary obstacle have been so overused at this point that you better have a hilarious take on it. Max Reload and the Nether Blasters does not. There’s a tangent I could go on about how the loser guy with no prospects in life being “the chosen one” who has the power to save us from blah blah blah is a bit of wish-fulfilment I think we can put on the shelf for a while, but I won’t and didn’t just now.
I think reference & inside joke kind of humor can be hilariously effective when done well and was reminded of two things that had entertaining/interesting characters while dropping references like crazy–Spaced and Shaun of the Dead. To me, those are good templates of how to cram inside jokes galore into your feature while also actually telling a story that works on its own. Overall, this one’s simply a bit too slight, toothless, and in need of more target practice for me but I can see a gamer, some teenagers, or a teenager-at-heart finding entertainment here.
4 out of 10 Manchildren
|Max Reload and the Nether Blasters|
|Runtime:||1 Hr. 40 Mins.|
Scott Conditt &
Scott Conditt (screenplay) &
Jeremy Tremp (story)