Before it expands to theaters this weekend, Lazer Team, the first film from web giant Rooster Teeth, has already grabbed headlines. When the film closed its Indiegogo campaign two years ago it did so with a record-breaking $2.4M to become one of the top crowd-sourced films, and with a rabid fan base backing it the feature has pushed its way into theaters. It’s a big moment for this style of distribution, but unfortunately, it comes with some growing pains.
Opening in the 60s, it is discovered that an alien race has set its eyes on our planet and plan to attack. Thankfully, a friendly species has spent years protecting us and have sent a power armor to Earth, so humanity can defend itself against the incoming threat. When the package finally arrives, it misses its mark, landing in the hands of four backwoods losers instead of with the government-trained soldier it was meant for. The rag-tag bunch must come together if the planet has any hope of surviving.
There are two ways to look at Lazer Team: as a theatrical film or a product made for the Internet. Because of its crowd funded success it has found itself trying to wear both shoes, but only one fits. The film’s presence on Youtube Red is fitting because it feels exactly like the fan-made trailers you’ll find littering the platform. Don’t take that as a knock on the product though, as many of those shorts are immensely enjoyable in their own right. There’s a reason I’ve watched last year’s Power Rangers film multiple times.
The kind of over/underacting found in those kinds of films makes for a fun experience, one that translates to Lazer Team. The team (Bernie Burns, Gavin Free, Michael Jones, and Colton Dunn) is clearly having a lot of fun goofing around, and often times it’s charming in an adorably dumb way. I found myself smiling at the stupidity of it all especially when it came to the over-seriousness of Alan Ritchson’s take on the screwed over soldier. So when the aliens make their presence known with Syfy channel quality CG, it all came together in a silly way.
However, any endearment felt towards the film turns sour once it’s remembered that Lazer Team is trying to pass off as a theater-worthy experience. The great thing about the aforementioned fan films is that they are free and often short experiences. Lazer Team crosses the 90-minute mark and will be charging premium theater prices. There is an enormous quality gap between it and other wide releases. To think it’ll be sharing real estate with the likes of The Hateful Eight and The Revenant is laughable.
Rooster Teeth’s first film is an amatuer that got pushed into a battle against professionals. When up against others of its ilk it can shine, but when playing with the big boys what starts off as cute quickly turns ugly.
Categories: New Releases