Published on February 19th, 2016 | by Jimmie Dodger0
Lazer Team – Review
Lazer Team is the first feature film of the internet production company ‘Rooster Teeth’; which was founded in 2003 and creates the longest running web series Red vs Blue amongst many other web based productions, such as RWBY and Immersion. The film was mainly funded by an incredibly successful Indiegogo campaign which needed $650,000 but was instead gifted with over $2.4million. At the time this marked the campaign as the most successful on Indiegogo ever; personally I am a big Rooster Teeth fan and one of those backers, I’m even wearing my crew hoodie as I write this, and you can see my name in the credits.
The film’s premise is that in the late 1970’s, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project received a signal from outer space which told us ‘you are not alone, and conflict is coming’. This was sent to us by a friendly alien race the Antareans who also plan to send a unique four-piece suit of power for one chosen earthling, the Earth Champian, to wear, and help defend ourselves against any unfriendly attacking force. The Earth’s Champian, Adam (Alan Ritchson) is chosen at birth and trained to be the most powerful and intelligent soldier known to man. On the night this suit is to arrive, our other four lead characters, local cop Hagan (Burine Burns), high school jock Zach (Michael Jones), alcoholic ex-football player Herman (Colton Dunn) and local idiot Woody (Gavin Free) accidentally shoot down this alien spacecraft with a firework. This leads to the four of them arming the suit themselves and unintentionally become the Earth’s Champion; giving the army four days to train these misfits how to work together as a team to defend their home world.
The film from here on isn’t overly original and contains a lot of expected film tropes, such as Zach the jock is sort-of in a relationship with Hagan’s attractive and ditsy daughter Mindy (Allie DeBerry), Herman holds a long time grudge against Hagan but forgives him over the course of the film, also the team initially are useless and can’t work together, but come through in the end forgetting their grudges and prioritise teamwork. As the film plays through, it starts to feel more like the film is laughing at these plot lines itself, and you come to the realisation that the suit’s pieces are direct metaphors for each person’s characteristics and story arcs. Hagan is given the shield as not only was his role on the football field at college to defend other players, but also because he plays a huge part in trying to stop the team from hurting themselves. Herman is given boots which remove his limp from an old football injury, and give him the running power he misses (which is the basis of his grudge on Hagan), Zack is given a laser rifle which shows just how much of a loose cannon he really is; and lastly Woody is given a helmet which makes him more intelligent as the film continues. The suit’s origins lie upon Greek Mythology with the gifts Perseus was given, the army’s project title is even called Project Perseus – and later on Project Pegasus is discussed.
The film’s genre of Sci-Fi comedy is a a relatively small sub-section of film and TV culture, Netflix doesn’t even have a dedicated area for the genre, but it often has a huge following, the likes of Galaxy Quest and Firefly don’t necessarily hit the biggest figures, but are in the hearts of many die-hard fans. Lazer Team is definitely sci-fi, and also funny, it has many jokes/gags for the general audiences, such as Hagan making Zach bash his head off the cop car’s internal window, by using his brake as Zach makes inappropriate comments, and then there is Officer Vandenbloom (Kirk Johnson) who is possibly the weirdest officer ever depicted in a film, with his shifty awkward glances and overly excitable personally; somehow he even makes the Lazer Team members seem cool ‘you guys are trending by the way, can I friend you guys?’. For Rooster Teeth fans there are plenty of references and in-jokes, with numerous cameos of RT staff, with Joel Haymen as a news reporter, Josh Flanagan as a crazed youtube conspiracist, Gus Sorola as a scientist and many others including cos-players in various outfits from Rooster Teeth’s multiple web-series.
One thing that worried me prior to seeing the film, was the quality of the acting, with the majority of lead actors not being necessarily actors: Burnie Burns, Michael Jones and Gavin Free. There are a few parts of the film that do feel a little ham handed and not quite in character but mostly the acting is fantastic and impressive. One very clever way to make things easier and funny was the use of Woody’s helmet, initially Woody (Gavin Free) speaks with a generic put-on south American accent but the helmet makes him speak British, as one of the Army Scientist explains ‘that is what dumb people think smart people sound like’, and as Gavin is originally from Oxfordshire this accent fits him much better.
The film as a whole is brilliant and is defiantly top quality for the genre being aimed at and exceptional for the budget. I would say most of the VFX don’t look Hollywood quality and there’s the odd bit of prop error, such as Herman’s boots sometimes looking loose, however there is some excellent prop work towards the end of the film. In general the film exceeds expectations of a first attempt, and a film so heavily based around sci-fi, which often costs hundreds of million to look perfect, Lazer Team does a great job, and will be in the heart’s of many for years to come. It’s a definite must watch for any sci-fi comedy lovers out there.