Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Arcade

of 8 viewers "Liked" "Arcade" (1993, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

The Berkeley Blazer - "I'm glad I never saw Arcade as a lad in the 90's because it probably works better as a unique phenomenon out of a cultural context. For starters, this movie is fucking rad. I don't mean that so much as a superlative adjectival phrase, though I did ultimately enjoy the film, but I mainly mean it in the historical sense: 90's high school counterculture is expressed so delightfully here, perhaps most potently in a tint-bespectacled side character played by a young Seth Green. These fashionable youths are led by our heroine and resident troubled teen Alex Manning, and we the viewers have the privilege of observing how this group reacts to a videogame called Arcade, named after the robotic overlord AI that seems to control the game on the inside. Of course, Arcade himself is a total digitized dick, and talks mad shit about how he's going to fuck everyone up and take over the world or something. What may sound like a Tron clone on paper plays out as a bizarre journey that, despite all the silly nonsense going on, has a tonal under current of somber isolation in the way the characters relate to each other, the CGI effects, and in the farcical ravings of Arcade. If the special effects and CG have a visual corollary it would be the PlayStation One cut scenes that we used to marvel over in games like Colony Wars and the original Legacy of Kain. What was revolutionary (probably) for '93 is of course at one level hilarious in 2017, and on another level made me feel an abstracted sense of dread and emptiness due to the empty textures and jarringly awkward 3D animations. This 90's sci-fi jaunt has a special dark strangeness that goes beyond its 90's after school special trappings. TGIF a la Camus with a neo-surrealist videogame aesthetic? That's probably giving Arcade too much credit, but if none of that interests you, then at least let me have the pleasure of informing you that this movie features John de Lancie ("Q" from Star Trek: TNG) as a desperate videogame sales associate #worththepriceofadmission." - 3.5 Stars

Math Mage - "An expression of the early 90's that could never exist at any other time. Girls can game too! Optimus Krueger will call you a bitch and suck you into his shitty video universe. Also: stop fucking up the liar's paradox! It doesn't work if the liar is the one who tells you the rules!" - 2 Stars

Speed Demon - "Going into this film as a gamer myself I was excited. I start thinking of other films like Brainscan for its virtual reality based gaming & The Lawnmower Man for its pretty cool 90's CGed environments. Some of the actors drew attention to this film to such as Seth Green. Obviously Peter Billingsley from A Christmas Story. Having some high expectations, I have to say I was let down and this film was such a snore fest for me. It was extremely boring with no care of what happened as the movie progressed. The characters just simply sucked. Don't waste your precious time on this one. Skip it!....Don't waste your twenty five cents either." - 2 Stars

Dabbles - "Wow what a blast to the past. It's so 90's which is why I liked it. The bad thing is the story just dragged on but then it was just the 90's. If you want to see a young Seth Green with real 90's production, I say watch it, if you aren't into 90's stuff just pass." - 3 Stars

Lord Battle - "In the 90's video games were drugs. Parents would constantly wage war with these new fangled electronic devices whose only purpose was to glue eyeballs to the TV and melt brains with nonsense. Arcade personifies this cultural era in what feels like a feature length episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark or Degrassi's "Schools out!" (1992) with the addition of a cyber-Freddy. And even though Arcade was filmed in L.A., they still managed to nail the Nowhere, USA vibe of Canada with Seth Green thrown in for good measure. With CGI that rivals The Lawnmower Man and a climax that really does Degrassi proud and "goes there", Arcade may not be a perfect film but it's a-hell-of a 90's time capsule." - 3 Stars

Huntress - "I think the only video game I played in the 90's was Tetris and PacMan, so it's safe to say I didn't exactly relate to the arcade going teen group, but that didn't matter one bit. I feel like anyone could have fun watching this movie, whether they remember those awful graphics personally, or they weren't even alive early enough to experience them. My favorite detail had to be the dark, windowless, underground arcade that felt like a casino where you'd spend all your daylight without even realizing it." -3 Stars

Trash - "For this era of Full Moon productions, Arcade is on the memorable side for being a ridiculous and completely outdated techno-thriller. A bunch of cool kids get chosen to test play an addictive VR game simply titled: Arcade! It might be sentient and it is certainly attacking their brains with fractals or something. This movie had the production value and tone of an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, with early 90's low budget special effects. Highlights include my new best friend, a video game monster named THE SCREAMER, and an awkwardly young Seth Green. Sadly nothing raises it to that weird iconic level you hope for from a Band production, which normally have puppets with dumb names or a specific monster you latch onto the image of. This might be because the main enemy, a creature named Arcade who controls the game, looks so shitty that it's hard to get a grip on what it even is. Either way, I was pretty entertained the whole time, and it's shorter than 90 minutes, always a plus!" - 3 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Oh, hi, Trash here. After we watched Arcade I stole Lord Battle’s computer and I’m hiding in a closet with it. They haven’t found me yet, but when they do I figure they’ll kill me, so I’m going to use my final few minutes to do what I do best: rant about bad movie history and the best film production company of all time, Full Moon. So, it was started by a guy named Charles Band, who prior to calling his production company Full Moon Pictures, called it Empire Pictures and Wizard Video. Then Empire shut down and thus Full Moon Pictures was born, which later became Full Moon Studios, and now it’s Full Moon Features. In the middle of all that, there’s roughly a dozen side projects and alternate brands, like Moonbeam Entertainment which made the schlocky kids movies that basically raised me after I found them in a dumpster behind a blockbuster. Why so many names? Well, I imagine there’s a ton of rights issues, debt, quietly shutting down and then reopening under a slightly different name, complicated business matters, et cetera! 

Band is kind of like a con-man Corman, churning out cheap films that have to hit a few specific notes, including a Hollywood score, a good monster, and a catchy title. And like Corman, some interesting people started out working on Band productions, like Helen Hunt, who was in Trancers, and Demi Moore in Parasite. But let’s focus on the writer and director of Arcade: David S. Goyer and Albert Pyun, respectively. Q: Where did they come from? A: Jean-Claude Van Damme. In 1989, a still unknown JCVD had collaborated with director Pyun on a disastrous movie called Cyborg, the final theatrical release for Cannon Films, cobbled together from the remains of a failed Spider-Man, a failed Masters of the Universe, and a few quick concepts Pyun had lying around. 1990, one year later, young JCVD was doing splits in a movie called Death Warrant, written by David Goyer. A college student at the time, it was the first script he ever sold. And in 1991, fate brought Goyer and Pyun together at last to write and direct, respectively, JCVD in KICKBOXER 2! Following that, the two began working regularly in the Charles Band movie factory, which is where Arcade gets made. 

Anyhow, this ends with David S. Goyer’s career taking off, him working on all the scripts for Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, getting a ton of acclaim, and just being a really successful dude. He also wrote all three Blades and directed the masterpiece Blade: Trinity and a Jewish horror movie called The Unborn that maybe you saw and said “This is terrible!” about. It’s crazy to see a guy going from Demonic Toys and Arcade to a hot ticket Hollywood writer while still maintaining a lot of trashiness. And Albert Pyun? He’s my friend on Facebook. Time for me to die, bye!

- Trash

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a residence for a special screening on  1/5/2016
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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