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Video Games: The Movie - Movie Review

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Video Games: The Movie - Movie Review

2 stars

Like the movie industry, video games and the people who design them have had their fair share of ups and downs. There is a landfill full of E.T. Atari cartridges to remind folks of the low period if you are in doubt. Unlike the movie industry, they’ve always had a target on their back largely designed to dismiss the technology as a mere passing fancy.

It’s just a fad. It’ll never last. From Atari to PlayStation 4, the same claims still plague the makers and, to an extent, the people who play them. Video games; however, are at their very best when they remain challenged and the game designers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Director Jeremy Snead covers the basics with a brief history lesson on his subject and then divides the movie into sequences that should have their own sub-titles. He recruits Sean Astin to provide narration and – completely in Easy Mode – coasts through the documentary.

The problem with the movie is that this is completely one-sided and most of the gamers who might be interested in its subject already know the material. He’s created a love letter of sorts that merely preaches to the choir. There is, quite literally, nothing new offered in the whole video game discourse.

The interviews with industry insiders sprinkled throughout the documentary include the film’s coproducer, Zach Braff, and Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis, as well as celebrity gamers like Wil Wheaton. They explain how they came to gaming and their history with certain games and the memories connected with them. We can all relate to their stories and the interviews give the flashy history lesson through the ups and downs of each platform a little more personality.

But, largely, Snead keeps the conversation void of any meaning. There is no debate about the violence in video games; there is no firm direction for video games and their future. We have a publicly known history recap, some speculation as to the virtual reality future, and nothing else besides looks at popular titles as they are made.

From Donkey Kong to the excellent reboot of Tomb Raider, video games are still a hot topic but Snead, perhaps afraid to ruffle fanboy feathers, doesn’t suit up for hardball with his documentary. I wanted a bit more than a history lesson via a MacBook Pro. A back-and-forth pattern is quickly established and we spend the rest of the movie suffering from a sort of subject-headline whiplash. Back and forth and back and forth but no depth.

I am a supporter of video games and their future. I believe they have a strong one in front of them. Snead does, too. Maybe he has too much love for them. Video Games: The Movie would have been better played with some objectivity.

Game over.

Video Games: The Movie - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
105 mins
Director
: Jeremy Snead
Writer: Jeremy Snead
Cast:
Sean Astin, Zach Braff, Al Alcorn
Genre
: Documentary
Tagline:
Video Games: The Movie.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I felt if I could bring Space War to the arcade, I could make a lot of money"
Distributor:
Variance Films
Official Site: http://www.videogamesthemovie.com/
Release Date:
July 18, 2004
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available
Synopsis: Video Games: The Movie, a feature length documentary, aims to educate & entertain audiences about how video games are made, marketed, and consumed by looking back at gaming history and culture through the eyes of game developers, publishers, and consumers. The film is not just another film about the games industry, but attempts something much more ambitious; the question of what it means to be a 'gamer', a game maker, and where games are headed. Storytelling and the art of the video game medium are also explored in this first of it's kind film about the video game industry & the global culture it has created.

No details available.

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