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Lazer Team (2015)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
DVD Released: 8/2/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/27/2016
The term "comedy troupe" may seem pretty benign to most people, but to me, it's a red flag. I've found that a group of "funny" people who come together to make something, especially a movie, may be the ultimate example of two many cooks in the kitchen. While Monty Python and to a lesser extent, Broken Lizard may be the exception, most projects like this turn out likeMiss March from the group known as The Whitest Kids You Know. Even The Kids in the Hall have misfired when they've attempted to take their brand of comedy to a longer form. Rooster Teeth has made a name for themselves with their web-based animated series Red Vs. Blue and RWBY. Will their first try at a feature film, a project called Lazer Team, be a success?
As Lazer Team opens, a montage informs us that in 1977, the U.S. government received an alien transmission which contains a warning of an impending conflict and information on an alien-based suit of armor. Heeding this alert, the military hand-picks a male, which they train for decades to be Earth's champion. The story then leaps to the present, in a sleepy Texas town. When Sheriff's deputy Hagan (Burnie Burns), who has the local dumb jock, Zach (Michael Jones), in the back of his squad car, attempts to stop Herman (Colton Dunn) and Woody (Gavin Free), who are both drunk, from setting off fireworks, one of the rockets shoots down an alien spaceship which is passing overhead. The four men approach the wreckage and they each extract something from the ship. Zach takes a cylindrical object, which he places on his hand, Hagan takes a glove, Herman takes a pair of boots, and Woody takes a helmet. They each don these items and quickly find that they can't remove them. They are captured by the military, who explain that they've each taken a piece of the alien armor which was meant for Adam (Alan Ritchson), Earth's champion. Now, this unlikely quartet, none of whom like each other, must work together to save Earth from an alien invasion.
(Just for the record, the film's opening implies that the military got instructions for and built the armor, so it's surprising when the alien ship delivers it.)
Again, Rooster Teeth had gained a following with their on-line stuff and in their attempts to make a feature film, utilized the fund-raising site Indiegogo to gather funds for the project. Fans flooded them with nearly $2.5 million to achieve this dream. Thus, Lazer Team does look like a real feature film, complete with visual effects and at least one actor that I've seen in something else. Despite the "Youtube" logo appearing at the film's opening, this does not look like an internet video and Director Matt Hullum, who worked in visual effects before joining Rooster Teeth, has given the movie a slick look.
So, the comedy troupe was able to exceed their fund-raising goal and made the movie a reality. And, they chose to pursue a fairly high-concept idea, instead of making something more mundane. But, as I had feared, the comedy troupe forgot the comedy. Here's a good rule of thumb for comedic groups -- "Just because it makes your friends laugh, that doesn't mean that it's going to make anyone else laugh." I didn't know much about Rooster Teeth going in, but they are clearly another bunch of males who aim for lowbrow humor, with little to no desire to be clever. Lazer Team is filled with dick and fart jokes and it never misses an opportunity to have a character get hit in the groin. In fact, the characters here beat up on one another a lot and none of it is funny. There are a few funny lines here and there, but the only truly creative things appear in the on-screen graphics in the newscasts seen in the movie.
Lazer Team is ostensibly a comedy with a science-fiction/action plot, but, if anything, I found the sci-fi part of the film to be more interesting than the supposedly comedic stuff. However, the plot is a mish-mash of Independence Day and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, mixed with a healthy dose of Ghostbusters, so even the more appealing part of the movie is stuff which we've seen before. (And the movie makes it quite obvious at times that it's aware that it's ripping off these things.) Here we have yet another movie which takes an idea with potential -- four morons who must save Earth -- and aims it directly at 12-year old boys. When are filmmakers going to understand that adults like wild comedies as well?
Lazer Team should expect from legal action from either Mega Man or Metroid on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer had been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fine and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is somewhat lacking in detail and takes on a vaguely flat look at times. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences produce some noticeably stereo and surround effects, while the appearance of the alien ship delivers obvious subwoofer effects.
The Lazer Team DVD contains only a few extra features. We get six DELETED & EXTENDED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. The majority of these are simply longer version of scenes from the finished film, with two being new. There is a 7-minute reel of BLOOPERS. "VFX Breakdown" (8 minutes) allows FX Supervisor Ray Pena to walk us through some key scenes and show how layering visual effects was used to create the final product.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long