**** (out of 5)
January 29, 2016
Burnie Burns as HAGAN
Gavin Free as WOODY
Michael Jones as ZACH
Colton Dunn as HERMAN
Allie DeBerry as MINDY
Alan Ritchson as ADAM
Studio: Rooster Teeth Productions
Directed by: Matt Hullum
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If you’re tired of the standard big-budget mainstream films that fill the multiplexes each month but you still want a slice of wacky fun, “Lazer Team” is the way to go. The production got its start with an Indigogo campaign that topped $1 million, the film is pioneering a new way to make films outside of the studio system.
However, as interesting and uplifting as it is to see a new distribution model unfold, it isn’t worth a damn if the film isn’t any good. Fortunately, “Lazer Team” is a whole heck of a lot of fun with contemporary humor but a nod to 80s sci-fi action.
The story follows a rag-tag group of losers who stumble across a crashed UFO. Inside, they find a super suit that, when attached to their bodies, gives them a variety of powers. Of course, this suit was not meant for them, but rather for another man: a warrior trained from birth to do battle with an alien invader. Oops.
As this unlikely team of heroes begin to figure out how to use the suit, it becomes clear that they must train to fight the alien in order to save the planet. Of course, unlike the warrior the suit was meant for, the Lazer Team has only four days. And they are a bunch of idiots, after all.
There’s a throwback feel to “Lazer Team” that touches my heart as a child of the 80s. It’s not that the movie takes place in the 80s or that it is attempting to look like a movie filled with 80s style. Instead, the manner by which it plays off the whimsical alien technology and the mode of thinking of the characters exemplify that decade. It’s as if these guys in the Lazer Team once pretended they were the Goonies or the Explorers in the 1980s as pre-teens but then grew up to get thankless jobs and have pathetic lives.
In this sense, the effects are pretty top-notch, especially for an independent, grass-roots production. Sure, there’s a lot of digital work, but the effects team doesn’t stretch beyond their limits. They use effects when necessary, and they blend them with on-set designs and visuals that augment the scene (whether that particularly scene is highlighting drama, action or screwball comedy). The big boys in movies and television could learn a bit from the team behind “Lazer Team.”
The movie also plays in a safe humor field, being silly enough and oddball enough to pay tribute to its independent roots but not deliberately crass or raunchy to necessitate a hard R rating. It doesn’t have to do this. In fact, “Lazer Team” feels like it earned its PG-13 rating with a single pass, not because it was aiming for that moniker but rather that’s just the movie they delivered. And this works for the tone of the film, which I previous stated as the Goonies all grown up with depressing lives.
In short, “Lazer Team” is meant to be a fun science fiction adventure that should appeal to those who grew up watching these kinds of movies as kids. However, with the filmmaker’s background in YouTube and Internet obsession that the younger generation can enjoy it as well.
And it’s funny, so that helps the broad audience appeal. Not every joke sticks the landing, but enough do that it’s a fun ride through and through.